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Edge computing has a bright future, even if nobody's sure quite what that looks like

  • 8 mths ago

Edge computing is easy to sell but hard to define. More a philosophy than any single architecture, edge and cloud are on a spectrum, with the current cloud service model often dependent on in-browser processing, and even the most edgy deployments reliant on central infrastructure.

The philosophy of edge, as most Reg readers know doubt know, is to push as much processing and compute as close as possible to the points of collection and utilization.

If biology is any guide, edge computing is a good evolutionary strategy. The octopus has a central brain, but each tentacle has the ability to analyze its environment, make decisions and react to events. The human gut looks after itself, with roughly the same processing power as a deer, while both eyes and ears do local processing before passing data back. All these natural systems confer efficiency, robustness and flexibility: attributes that IT edge deployments should also expect.

But those natural analogies also illustrate another of edge's most important aspects – its diversity. 5G is often quoted as the quintessential edge case. It owes most of its potential to being designed around edge principles, moving the decision-making about setting up and managing connections into distributed control systems. The combination of high bandwidth, low latency, traffic management through prioritization, all across moving targets, just can't work unless as much processing as possible takes place as close to the radios (and thus the users) as possible.

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