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How to explain edge computing in plain English
What is edge computing? How does it relate to cloud computing? We cut through the confusion and help you explain this term, even to non-technical audiences
When edge computing makes sense
Edge computing adds the most value when speed or efficiency are important. When organizations move computing closer to the source of data, it enables them to analyze data in near-real time. “This allows technology professionals and business executives to make even more impactful, timely decisions,” says Stranger.
Additionally, edge computing can reduce the volume of network traffic. “Large amounts of data can be processed near the source using small, distributed data centers, reducing Internet bandwidth usage,” Stranger says. “This both eliminates costs and ensures that applications can be used effectively in remote locations. This increase, essentially, allows us to make the data ‘haystacks’ smaller, and hence makes it more likely to find the actionable information ‘needle’ much more efficiently.”
Those benefits, either on their own or together, can create all sorts of new business opportunities, says Mann, like “the opportunity to speed up decision making that helps companies reduce costs, better engage with customers, and enhance privacy [for example].” For example:
- An oil refinery using IoT data analytics to shut down industrial equipment autonomously to prevent catastrophic failures when predetermined safety parameters are exceeded.
- A retailer leveraging sensor data to understand customer location and proximity or real-time point-of-sale analytics to detect fraud
- A manufacturer deploying next-level monitoring to increase plant efficiency and predict asset failures
- A fleet manager using edge resources when network access is intermittent
- An oil company complementing centralized analytics with real-time edge capabilities when deciding where to drill
- A media company using edge resources to optimize live or on-demand video at massive scale
- An agricultural firm relying on thousands of sensors to monitor farm conditions
[ Want to learn more about implementing edge computing? Read the blog: How to implement edge infrastructure in a maintainable and scalable way. ]