Edge computing is set to support the rapid growth and demand for cloud and digital services such as Zoom

Edge computing is set to support the rapid growth and demand for cloud and digital services such as Zoom- (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP)

Edge computing is seeping into enterprises with 72% of IT leaders already in its grasp

Edge computing has once again pierced the periphery of our digital consciousness, with 72% of global IT leaders already incorporating edge into their operations. In March this year, research house Reply predicted that by 2025, cloud computing will be leading the ICT infrastructure market, with edge computing to grow exponentially. 

These sentiments are reinforced in Intel’s latest white paper, The Edge Outlook, as they review the status of edge computing and its implications for the future. This is especially important when we consider how digital services have enabled economies to continue functioning in a world torn by Covid-19.

Edge Computing – not just more hype

Whilst cloud computing has been a godsend during remote work and hybrid work arrangements, it isn’t quite the panacea for the world’s workforce yet. Data needs to be processed, and it is impractical to expect to send it back to the cloud for processing, simply because of its sheer volume, and the latency that accompanies that endeavor.

Furthermore, the added adoption of 5G, smartphones, and IoT devices is churning out data at unimaginable rates. Enter edge computinga technological means that optimizes data exchange by moving some parts of storage and computing resources out of the data center, and nearer to the data source. 

This effectively means data can be processed and analyzed right where it’s generated, be it in the factory, retail outlet, or even across a smart city. As future technologies such as 5G and AI mature and increase in use, edge computing will play a pivotal role in enabling businesses to optimize their operations for efficiency and speed.

Edge computing strongly impacts four key industries

The four key industries most impacted by edge computing will be the retail, industrial, healthcare, and telecommunications spaces, reports Intel. Within the retail sector, edge will most impact shopping and inventory management, thus impacting both brick and mortar sellers as well as e-commerce operations. 

As Industry 4.0 closes the physical and digital divide, edge services will facilitate better and faster commutative decision-making in flexible, responsive, and interconnected enterprises. This is important, considering the exploding prominence of AI, IoT, additive manufacturing robotics, and cloud computing utilization in industry, with a lot of data to be crunched and analyzed.

And the pandemic reminds us that the global healthcare sector will require more innovative digital solutions to better serve populations, especially through telemedicine, AI, and robotics.

Lastly, as the telecommunications industry prepares for 5G, it is expected that the volume and complexity of 5G-capable services will surge exponentially. As such, edge computing will be the key to achieving ultra-low latency for 5G deployment cases, empowering both network and operational efficiencies.

Giving APAC (and the world) an edge

As more hyperscale data centers pop up in APAC to meet the demands of the region’s growing cloud and digital needs, the uptake of edge technology will have to be commensurate as well. In Singapore earlier this year, telecommunications provider Singtel launched its 5G mobile edge computing, whereas Dell launched their SGD$ 66 mil edge computing research and development center.

The Chinese government has also been driving support for 5G and IoT networks, with early edge deployments seen in smart ports, campuses, and factories. Elsewhere in the world, retailers such as Walmart and logistics provider UPS have utilized edge technologies to enhance their businesses. And the global cloud giants AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure have recognized the need for edge and incorporated these capabilities into their services.

For the APAC region to truly harness the power of the digital economy and rise to the top, it would be wise for regional players to consider utilizing edge technologies to supplement their heavy reliance on cloud computing and the growing 5G and IoT scene.