It’s no secret that edge computing is an increasingly influential trend and it’s maturing fast.
It represents a new frontier where distributed IT infrastructures can be deployed much closer to the action. This makes it possible to rapidly process data near to where it’s generated and collected, rather than having to send it to the cloud or back to a central data center for analysis.
Why is edge computing important?
Because it can yield real-time insights and faster, more intelligent local decision making. You’re also no longer slowed down by poor latency or service outages. With edge computing, forward-thinking organizations can launch new services to massively improve customer experience, increase productivity, save costs and gain significant competitive advantages.
With all of those potential benefits, it’s no wonder industry watchers and analysts are predicting big things for edge computing. According to IDC, by 2023 over 50 percent of new enterprise IT infrastructure will be deployed at the edge, with the number of applications deployed at the edge having increased by 800 percent from today’s levels.
Those predictions were made before the current COVID-19 pandemic hit us, but the current global emergency has only reinforced the push for more distributed IT systems. Remote working, data gathering, analysis, administration, and control are all major themes this year. This makes the impressive growth estimates for edge computing even more likely to be realized over time.
Building solutions at the Edge
When we describe edge computing as a new frontier, it’s important to understand that it doesn’t supersede or replace the need for cloud computing or data centers. Rather, it’s an extension or enhancement of the entire IT ecosystem.
In fact, edge computing relies on a series of converging technologies that can be tied together into new and innovative solutions. Everything from new 5G networks; HPC solutions; AI and ML capabilities; IoT and embedded devices; enhanced edge security; distributed private clouds; and a whole lot more.
Edge computing opens up a huge amount of scope for new digitized services and applications. Some of these are aimed purely at consumer markets, but others address more critical and enterprise-centric solutions.
Here are three such use cases:
Healthcare and Hospitals
IoT devices are becoming increasingly important for the real-time monitoring of patient data. This is expected to be a $500 billion market by 2025, and for good reason. In life-or-death situations, every second counts. Having to wait for test results or for data to be analyzed can have a big impact on patient outcomes. On the other hand, if crucial data is instantly available from equipment in intensive care units, or can be transmitted directly from the ambulance to hospital staff, then decisions or actions can be taken immediately.
Edge computing can make all of this possible by significantly increasing speed and efficiency, while also reducing healthcare costs, and keeping data more secure by holding it locally.
Today, it’s thought that over 55% of people live in urban areas or cities. But over the next two decades, another 1.7 billion people are expected to move in. This means our cities are going to get much bigger and harder to manage. By 2030, we’ll have mega-cities that cover three times more land than they did in the year 2000.
Smart digital cities are going to be essential if we’re going to keep up with that kind of growth and they are already evolving around us. They utilize data collected by IoT devices including everything from street lights, video cameras, traffic sensors and signals, utility meters, along with a whole host of other gadgets and systems.
But the key to enabling a smart city is the capability to analyze all that data to make fast decisions, with near real-time automated actions being taken as a result. Edge computing is the solution to getting all of that done.
Today, edge computing solutions are being used for public safety and police monitoring; traffic and transport management; smart metering for utilities; automated street lighting; and much more. It’s also being used for detecting emergencies and triggering the fast deployment of first responders, medical teams and firefighters to the scene to handle the situation.
Modern cars have morphed into something more closely resembling a mobile data center. The manufacturers could truthfully now describe themselves as software companies rather than automotive engineering businesses. Cameras, sensors, silicon and computer systems are collecting and analyzing data for everything from engine management, assisted driving, safety systems, and entertainment packages. And that’s before we even get to fully autonomous vehicles, as we surely will over the next few years.
Autonomous vehicles will be generating and using a vast amount of data to enable all the systems involved. Some estimates suggest it will be as much as 40TB for every 8 hours of driving. Some of that data will be non-critical and could easily be transmitted to the cloud for processing. However, the latency involved in using the cloud and the danger of connectivity outages, means that some form of edge computing is an absolute necessity for safety reasons.
These three use cases are all genuine growth opportunities for edge computing and they are ramping up right now.
There are several factors that each of these use cases has in common. They all rely on genuine enterprise-grade software stacks for mission-critical usage. Each of them requires high-performance, rock-solid reliability, security and the highest levels of support. They also need to be customizable, as well as easy to deploy, manage and maintain.
All of those factors are core SUSE strengths and we have a comprehensive product portfolio that our customers are using right now to build out their edge computing and IoT solutions.
To find out more about SUSE’s approach to edge computing, please sign up for the free online sessions at SUSECON Digital 2020 starting on May 20th.
Here are some of the sessions that may be of interest:
- SUSE’s roadmap for Edge computing
- An introduction to Edge computing
- Edge OS – Why another OS for the Internet of Things?
- SUSE’s infrastructure management roadmap: Managing Hybrid IT infrastructures from Edge to the Core to the Clouds
- Enterprise-ready Edge: How to run SLES on manufacturing execution system devices with Raspberry Pi
- Intelligent British Racing Green. Or How Arm and SUSE can accelerate AI/ML on IoT, Edge, Data Centre & Cloud
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