Edge Computing And Its Perks

Rajesh Awasthi, Associate Vice President, Managed Hosting & Cloud Services, Tata Communications | Friday, 18 December 2020, 06:47 IST

Rajesh Awasthi, Associate Vice President, Managed Hosting & Cloud Services, Tata Communications

1. Edge Computing has been considered one of the top trends that emerged in 2020; and this distributed computing model is expected to propel innovations across all business verticals. How do you foresee the emerging trends in the Edge Computing and their impact on the business operations?

Edge computing is steadily becoming a strategic path that is propelling digital transformation. Though the concept of Edge computing is not completely novel, developments in Internet of Things (IoT) devices and data centre technology are driving a seismic shift that is moving communications and computing from a centralised cloud architecture to the Edge. Further, as the demand for data, computing, and communications grows, businesses will move resources and intelligence to the edge to ensure cost-effectiveness and enable new use cases.

Additionally, as organisations continue to evolve, edge computing would be a necessary enabler that will complement cloud computing by delivering immersive interactions, real-time value, and intelligence closer to people and things.

Considering this character of edge computing, mobile operators and service providers would play a crucial role and their networking resources will be an obvious space for edge nodes. We can also expect an explosive growth on the Edge as it obscures sensitive information to ensure privacy and security and reduce the attack surface. A wellarchitected Edge computing model can help businesses unlock the potential of the multitudes of untapped data to increase operational efficiency and accelerate performance by analysing data locally, as well as address network security risks, management complexities, and the limitations of latency and bandwidth.

With application areas, such as smart homes, smart cities, smart grids, smart supply chain and other IoT enabled devices, Edge computing will emerge as the global backbone for information sharing and processing across the globe.

2. How do you see the role of Edge Computing in helping businesses minimise or bypass the latency caused while communicating information from the device across the network to the centralised computing system.?

As businesses increasingly depend on big data and real-time analytics, they are realising that latency is a by-product of distance. Though innovations in fibre optics technology enables data to move faster, data is still constrained by the laws of physics and faces several bottlenecks, including bandwidth limitations and last mile problem.

To eliminate downtime, distribute workloads for mission critical functions, and enable real-time processing, Edge-driven solutions decentralise storage and management of data. As enterprises are moving their operations and data computation near its source and at the Edge, analytical tasks are now taking place on local network and closer to end user to deliver more responsive and faster services. This in turn is providing real-time insights from IoT data and helping organisations to scale networks and capture the true value of next-generation connectivity solutions, such as 5G networks.

3. Besides latency, Edge Computing is preferred in the remote locations, where there is limited or no connectivity to the centralised location. Edge Computing is primarily used to process time-sensitive data. What are the various applications of Edge Computing?

The benefits of Edge computing extend across industries that consume cloud infrastructure. With faster processing, improved efficiency and speed to market, there are multiple potential applications of Edge Computing. For instance, the Automobile sector can leverage Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC), which is an extension to cloud computing and uses a distributed, cloud-based architecture, to enable Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) communications and offer a variety of services, such as in-car entertainment in-car entertainment, autonomous vehicle operation, automated toll road operations, collision avoidance, and traffic flow optimization, among others.

Further, Edge computing is also gaining traction in the energy sector, which alone offers several opportunities to benefit consumers and providers alike. While smart meters supported by Edge computing can help consumers manage their energy consumption, they can help grid operators reduce the need for manual meter reading. Likewise, water sensors on pipes can help detect leaks and offer consumption data in real-time.

The agriculture sector is already leveraging IoT to analyse weather conditions and watering equipment. Add to it Edge computing, which can enable real-time location tracking and monitoring of workers, livestock, and other assets to improve productivity and reduce costs.

Today, financial services are also turning to Edge computing to rapidly process data and extend enhanced customer experiences at interactive ATMs. At an enterprise level, they are leveraging the technology to instantly analyse transactional data and detect fraudulent activities.

The healthcare sector clearly illustrates how IoT-driven Edge computing solutions are playing a vital role in the modern world and redefining the intricate nature state-of-the-art technologies. For instance, in-depth, real-time data about patients’ health conditions is extremely critical for physicians to determine a correct diagnosis. This is where Edge computing offers robust and well-analysed data, as against the incomplete big data derived from the cloud. Edge computing also proves critical during treatments and surgeries that require instant analysis of recorded data.

4. What according to you are some of the challenges for businesses in implementing Edge Computing solutions? What is your advice for them to overcome these challenges and achieve business growth harnessing the power of Edge Computing?

While businesses are rapidly embracing Edge computing, many organisations are still facing deployment concerns. One such concern is that users who have edge solutions in the pipeline, are unsure about their ability to support remote equipment. Considering that edge deployments will primarily occur on sites that have limited or no access to skilled IT resources. However, the greatest challenge facing businesses is securing distributed networks, which are easy attack vectors and provide hackers access to the core of the network.

Service providers need to ensure that they maintain the networks in a unified manner. They will also need to deploy encryption and artificial intelligence tools to monitor, detect and respond to potential threats as the responsibility for implementing security measures falls squarely on service providers and not end users. Additionally, managed service provider-driven support services will also help simplify the deployment process and make Edge Computing easy and affordable without necessitating on-site IT experts.

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