Edge computing can be a solution to data center strain. Source: Shutterstock

Is edge computing the answer to a data center overload?

Just 20 percent of business executives believe that their current data-center is meeting their needs. Only 6 percent are confident that these facilities are sufficiently updated for their day to day use.

As demands continue to ramp up rapidly overburdened data centers won’t be sustainable for long. To manage new challenges around bandwidth, security and emerging technologies such as AI and 5G, more processing power will be required by businesses. 

To accommodate for increasing workloads, data needs to be moved away from the central data center alone, and distributed across a variety of platforms such as core data centers, cloud and particularly, the edge.

Gathering more limelight recently, much of what 5G and IoT can offer is only made possible through edge computing. It brings data storage and computation closer to where it’s needed, expediting processing and at the same time, minimizing latency.

But it also helps with ‘cloud offload’, where network traffic going to and from the cloud can be drastically reduced. 

With the immense growth in the amount of data being generated, moving data to and from the cloud is not only time consuming, but costly. The concept of cloud offload has arisen because of this, and edge computing allows for value to be extracted from data at the location where it’s generated. If necessary, it can even be ‘downsized’ to be sent over to the cloud for storage or analysis.

With this said, will edge computing replace the cloud?

The edge and the cloud are part of the same continuum, and the edge can be thought of as an enabler for the cloud to expand its reach. 

Edge computing does not focus on storing data, rather, it is designed to gather and process data on-site quickly, and analyze data in real-time. Cloud computing, on the other hand, is made to store data, and can easily be scaled according to needs.

Take a look at public cloud providers such as AWS and the complementary role of the edge in cloud computing is evident. 

For the enterprise looking to do on-premise edge computing, Amazon’s AWS Outpost – a fully assembled rack of computing and storage that mimics the hardware design of Amazon’s own data centers – will be installed at the client’s premises. 

Outpost runs on services such as the EC2 compute service, which makes it operationally similar to the cloud.

Edge computing is still in the early stages, but it is already playing a key role in shaping the industry today, and investment from big industry players shows its early worth. 

Companies such as Walmart are already using it to generate profit: the US retail giant plans to rent out space at its supercenters as edge computing data centers scattered regularly across the country. 

To keep up, enterprises must begin to invest more into their data infrastructure, and start implementing edge computing in stages.