What is Edge Computing? Why should I care?

1.2k views2 Upvotes6 Comments

Managing Director in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
I define edge in terms of a perimeter—it’s creating some kind of space to either keep things in or prevent things from leaving, whether it’s a logical, physical or conceptual space. We probably all have the concept of edge around us as individuals in how we act and behave. But in the computing world, there was this proprietary nature for many years before the onset of integration, APIs and compatibility. It was really a technology built on incredible incompatibility. Edge evolved in the computing world because of a lot of those incompatibilities that were designed for profitability.
Director IT | CTO Office | Digital Factory / Industry 4.0 in Hardware, 10,001+ employees
Edge is about bandwidth, speed and compute power. That's what the essential discussion is on our side. Edge computing comes into play when we're looking at machine to machine conversations. We want to have the ability for machine A to tell machine B what to do, and machine B has to do it instantly.

At that point, the discussion moves away from major data centers or the cloud and onto, "We need something locally that makes that decision fast enough for it to react fast enough, whether it's injecting plastic molding into something or building a box.” If you need that to happen instantly, then you can't physically run that code up and down the chain across your data center, to your cloud provider, etc. So compute edge decisions at a local level.

Then there's the whole bandwidth discussion on this new 5G activity that's happening between AT&T and everybody else. Now they're saying, "In order for us to be able to give you 5G, now we have to put some local boxes in your four walls for that 5G to be effective.” It boggles my mind at this age. We just went from this massive network back into local networks. So the edge conversation for me is just compute, bandwidth, and localization.
CEO in Software, 11 - 50 employees
The way I define edge is the distribution of computing. We're shifting away from the centralized model to having compute power distributed while also making sure that data processing happens as close to the source as possible. And that opens another floodgate: what does that mean in terms of user experience? With AI, now you have a curated and customized user experience. In that sense, edge is about distributed computing and 5G is just a prerequisite in terms of infrastructure.

But I would like to define edge differently: it's not just the actual infrastructure, compute power and where it's located, it’s also about the whole business model working in a totally different way, separate from the centralized model. You have computing that's happening on the fly as well as a user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX) that are customized and also need to have the predictability and decision making ability on the fly. You need to collect all of that and have a security layer, where you can protect privacy and security. But you also need to know what kind of metrics you'll develop at your company in order to measure the success of edge computing solutions.
CEO & Founder in Software, 11 - 50 employees
To me, edge is a product of a consumerized experience revolution that has happened and the desire for instant gratification. As companies and leaders, we make decisions based on how fast we can process something and how instantly we can give feedback. And feedback could be anything. It could be a traffic light or your car's decision to stop on its own when it senses a threat or object in front of it.

It used to be that IoT and edge were different but that line is blurring now. It's a decentralized model that's pushing resources as close to the periphery as possible. That way they can make intelligent decisions autonomously based on the information provided from the hub, and then give that experience, feedback, or output back to the receiving party. The receiving party could be another system, another device or a human being. We don't have the luxury of going back to the well all the time, so we have to keep things on the side, process it, and make decisions.
CEO in Services (non-Government), Self-employed
Edge computing is not a thing or a place but a capability that reduces time to decision and produces faster time to value for employees,customers, suppliers. That value might be the insight that produces a higher quality product, reduces rework or eliminates waste in a manufacturing facility. Edge computing is effective not just because it eliminates latency but because it marries context and content as and when data is produced or consumed and can be aggregated to create the insight to inform decision making by human or machine.
CEO in Software, 11 - 50 employees
What is Edge? A corollary might be "what is IT"?.  IT is a set of technologies and software that when used effectively offer the buyer an ROI. ROI can be measured in time saved (efficiency), agility, lower costs, more revenue, etc. Edge is meant for use cases that technology improvements in size, cost, power, etc are enabling. Edge is existing and new use cases where the barrier to entry for a solution is being lowered. 

What is Edge?
Edge is an economic location. How can I best leverage improved prices, smaller devices, better networking, etc., to create a unique or improved opportunity, and still enjoy a positive ROI on the effort?  

A simple truth: Differentiating for the customer on performance or level of engagement is, in and of itself, a reason to move some projects closer to the user.

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