We are now solidly in the world of cloud computing. Just about every company makes heavy use of both SaaS (Software as a Service) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) . However, the future of computing might be slightly different and we’ve started witnessing one of the greatest change of the decade. We’re speaking of ‘edge computing’. In this article, we’ll take a detailed look at it.
Definition of Edge Computing
Edge computing refers to the process of computing data ‘at the edge’ of the network.
An edge computing infrastructure literally consists of computers and small-scale data centers at the ‘edge’ of a certain network or geographic location. Computing is done directly at – or near – the source of data, as opposed to relying on a cloud-based data center that may be thousands of miles away.
The small-scale data centers that process this data are usually called ‘cloudlets’. As the diminutive name implies, they are smaller versions of their ‘big brothers’ – the enormous, enterprise-scale data centers that could handle cloud data from tens of thousands of companies.
Instead of focusing on raw power and long-term storage capacity, edge computing cloudlets focus on:
- Fast response rates
- Low latency
- Streamlined processing of basic data
This allows them to provide a much faster response, and minimize delays, because they’re closer to the source of data.
Speaking of the source of data, it could be:
- Common end-user devices such as smartphones or tablets
- Wearables such as fitness watches or virtual reality headsets
- Sensors such as temperature sensors, motion sensors or smoke sensors
- Healthcare applications using real-time data for patients
- Connected cars, including self-driving vehicles
- Offshore drilling rigs used in the oil industry
- Access control devices using voice command for authentication
And of course, this list is not exhaustive. These connected devices can be referred to as IoT devices or edge devices. Most of them require real-time data processing that they can’t do by themselves.
Benefits of Edge Computing
Reduced Network Latency
One of the biggest reasons that edge computing has become more popular in the recent years is that cloud-based systems have high latency. The truth is, even giant cloud companies like Amazon and Google have failed to find ways to reduce that latency.
So, why are cloud platforms slower than edge computing platforms? It’s because no matter how fast a cloud server farm is, data transfers are still bound by the speed of light. While cloud data centers are deployed in a few cities, real-time data processing demand is everywhere the users or devices are – at the edge of the network. Data transfers remain relatively slow across long distances because data cannot go faster than light speed.
Simple test, sending a ‘ping’ request from Auckland, New Zealand to a server farm in Amsterdam that’s more than 11,000 miles away could take 300 milliseconds – each way. Now say, an application in one location has to interact with a database in the other location. Combine the transfer time with the time it takes to process the data, and you’re faced with multiple-second delays. This means slower responses – which can be crippling when critical and urgent decisions have to be taken based on the calculations.
The solution then is a system that uses both centralized infrastructure and smaller cloudlet environments.
Distributed Processing Power and Increased Security
Edge computing is, by design, a distributed architecture, rather than a centralized one. It responds to the processing need for one application or set of applications, connecting smart devices in one regional area to processing power locally.
In other words, edge computing tends to have an overall lower processing load, compared to centralized cloud computing architectures. However, this is not a bad thing – because systems in cloudlets are used to:
- Quickly analyze data they receive from client devices
- Send back the results of the computation to these devices
- Increase application security as the data is not transferred over multiple routers
Also, because they act as ‘gateways’, they’ll send the processed information to a central cloud system for long-term storage or further treatment. Thus, the name ‘edge server gateways’ or ‘IoT gateways’.
Cloudlets can take many forms. Any computer that analyzes data from an edge device before sending it to another cloud server farm is a ‘cloudlet’. This could even include a desktop! In fact, most IoT server gateways run on x86 architecture.
How to Build Your Infrastructure for Edge Computing
As a developer or a service provider, you might be working on your next application or service with a local, regional or global outreach. Or, maybe you’re struggling to deliver fast and reliable services using a public cloud infrastructure and you’re looking for an alternative. An edge computing deployment is exactly what you need.
So, how do you get started? The answer is Ormuco Stack. Ormuco Stack has everything you need to deploy processing at the edge of the network.
1. It will deploy quickly and easily on x86 commodity hardware, not just enterprise systems. This means that even a desktop can run it – so you can quickly begin experimenting with edge computing.
2. Ormuco Stack allows easy management of multiple clouds, including both edge computing ‘cloudlets’ and full-scale enterprise cloud systems. Workloads can be deployed on bare metal, virtual machines, and containers such as Kubernetes. So you get to manage your edge and cloud deployments within the same tool.
3. Ormuco Stack automates your infrastructure. It combines artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide you with an infrastructure that self-installs, self-operates and self-heals. You can deploy thousands of cloudlets in different regions of the world with only one person overseeing all. Nothing can stop your growth.
4. Ormuco Stack gives you all the tools to build applications. Do you need a database? The platform offers popular data stores such as MySQL, MongoDB or Redis. Need WordPress, RabbitMQ, Joomla or Jenkins? It’s all there.
With just a few pieces of basic IT equipment, such as edge sensors, gateways, and networking equipment, you can start implementing edge computing for yourself. Offer your company benefits from a more widely-distributed approach to computing.
Edge Computing Vs. Cloud Computing: Which One Should You Choose?
The question of edge computing vs. cloud computing is not a question of which one is better. It’s rather a question of how you can integrate both services into your service options, as a service provider.
Cloud computing and edge computing work the most effectively when they are used together – and in an intelligent edge cloud full stack platform, such as Ormuco’s software.
Start Your Edge Computing Project with Ormuco!
If you need to know more about computing at the edge, we’re the best resource in the business – and we’d love to talk to you. Ask for your custom demo now so we can help you with your project. We’d be happy to answer all of your questions about edge computing.