There is lot of excitement this year about the coming maturity of the Internet of Things (IoT), particularly when mentioned in the same breath as 5G, the new network which will be fully launched later this year. With 100x more bandwidth than 4G, 5G is set to revolutionise the way that the world not only communicates, but also delivers improved services, capabilities and enhance our way of life.
But there is an equally exciting revolution happening, and it’s closer than you might think. By that I mean really close. It is called Edge Computing, and it is going to make a huge impact on the way we do things. Let me go into what it is, and why it matters.
Most organisations have either looked to or are looking at the cloud for their major IT functions. There are huge, hyperscale data centres that are running some of the world’s largest enterprises and even governments. Not only day to day systems but they are also handling key decision-making processes; who should do what, why, when and where. This is all being driven by data analytics, which traditionally requires huge processing power. This is where the cloud wins, by enabling vast amounts of processing power at our fingertips to drive improved decisioning – faster, better and smarter.
But what about those instances where we don’t have access to the cloud? What about those situations where time makes all the difference? What about if it’s too costly to have a cloud with capacity for every satellite site, delivery truck or remote worker? Welcome to the Edge.
The Edge is the area right at the coal face of data creation, where your connected device first sends its information prior to being sent on to the cloud. It could be a specific device, or it could be a micro data-centre. Traditionally, the technology used at the edge has been very low power, low capability devices which are used as gateways to the Network. No real analysis other than aggregation can happen due to the constraints of the hardware, and the requirements of the software.
Things are changing.
New advances in hardware and software are bringing data centre and cloud power to the edge. It is now possible to run data analytics, data science, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) at the edge, getting results when they are needed. Imagine turning every emergency vehicle into a data platform, capable of decision making based on real time data, even if the network goes down. Imagine engineers in low bandwidth, high latency environments armed with a device powerful enough to deliver analysis on actual events, as they happen. Just a couple of examples of what can be done using the edge.
‘We cannot solve our problems using the same thinking as we did when we created them’
This is just the beginning; if you have any ideas about using the edge or want to see how Zizo can deliver big data analytics on any device, drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org.