By Said Ouissal
In today’s hyperconnected world, companies need a way to scale and analyze data faster, cheaper and better. The only way to do that is to move out of the cloud and on to the edge of the network and internet, where most of the future data will be generated.
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The inevitable shift in the adoption of edge computing is driven by the strong force of data gravity—a term coined years ago by software engineer Dave McCrory to describe how large sets of data attract applications and services, much like gravity attracts planets and stars.
The center of data gravity has traditionally been in a data center and, more recently, in the cloud. But as we connect billions of devices to the network at the edge to collect data from the real physical world, the amount of data these devices generate is surpassing anything we’ve seen before.
The latest predictions estimate that 75 percent of all data will be processed at the edge of the network by 2022, and by 2025 nearly one-third of all the workloads in the world will run at the edge. These are staggering numbers and make edge computing one of the largest and fastest shifts we have ever seen in our industry.
That shift has grabbed the attention of the biggest players in tech. Microsoft’s Satya Nadella has talked about how he future-proofed Microsoft’s business through edge computing, and Michael Dell forecasted a $700 billion capital investment on edge infrastructure over the next 10 years.
“In this do-anything-from-anywhere world,” Dell told an audience at Dell Tech World this summer. “It’s a future that will unfold at the edge.”
In the near-term, spending on edge computing hardware, software and services will reach $250.6 billion through 2024, according to IDC. The wave will be led by industrial companies, energy companies and transportation companies, which are already seeing the benefits.
Edge computing helps wind and solar farms meet their renewable energy goals. Manufacturing plants become real-time and make small changes on the fly to optimize production lines. And the edge is a key player in automotive service, both updating software and pulling data from vehicles to determine what needs to be repaired.
Companies and investors should watch for three key factors that will continue to drive the growth of edge computing. Now that 5G networks are being widely deployed, the ability to improve network coverage and performance will make it easy to do edge computing everywhere.
Secondly, edge computing at its core is an ecosystem play. While every deployment is unique and vertical, those ecosystems are beginning to come closer together.
And finally, just like cloud computing, open-source will play a big role in edge computing. We’ll continue to see stronger open-source collaboration between different projects and foundations, ultimately creating a better and easier way to build and deploy software at the edge.
Ultimately, edge computing solves bandwidth and latency problems while addressing security and privacy. Those will be some of the foremost concerns of business as the center of data gravity shifts to the edge to support a large and continuous stream of data. This is a truly exciting time for companies to embark on the mission of building the last cloud that needs to be built—the one at the edge.
Said Ouissal is the CEO and founder of ZEDEDA, a leader in orchestration for the distributed edge. He has extensive experience in senior leadership positions across IP networking (routing, switching and security), telecommunications, cloud and mobile broadband. Prior to ZEDEDA, he held executive product management and (technical) sales roles at various infrastructure companies, including Ericsson, Juniper Networks, Redback Networks and Violin Memory.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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