Kathleen Martin

Well-known member
Mar 16, 2020
Lexington, Kentucky
Despite the growth and variety in edge computing device availability, the path toward thin or thick edge isn’t exactly clear.
No one would argue that Internet of Things (IoT) deployments are headed toward the edge. Into more remote, uncontrolled environments, where computers—and especially edge computing power—haven’t traditionally gone before.
Better hardware and connectivity pair together to drive more computer power to the edge, which means organizations can do a lot more work. And that, in turn, is opening up brand-new use cases for organizations that would have never considered this infrastructure. The edge computing industry is maturing to the point where its various hardware, software, and connectivity combinations inevitably create a more fractured environment.
To highlight that degree of change, a Gartner survey of 500 IT leaders showed that their organizations invested, on average, $417,000 on IoT and $262,000 on edge computing throughout 2021. Those figures will inevitably grow, with Grand View Research, Inc. publishing a report stating that the global edge computing market would grow 38% annually through 2028, with a massive focus on edge servers.
One of these divergent paths in edge computing, particularly when it comes to IoT, is thin vs. thick edge deployments, and knowing which one your organization actually needs—or whether the ideal form is a hybrid of the two—will pay dividends when you don’t get bogged down in rework or redeployment costs six months after pushing the power button for the first time.
Where is the edge between thin and thick?
First thing’s first, we’re focused on IoT-based infrastructure here, not anything related to distributed cloud computing, like content delivery networks (CDNs) or gamelets, which leverage the number of public cloud data centers to process requests closer to their users.
And the thin/thick distinction isn’t a competitive one—both types of edge deployments have many valuable use cases. Think of them as product categories, not philosophies, the way you choose between a desktop computer for ultimate power or a laptop for the convenience of portability.
Edge computing began in the realm of thin. Think of these as low-power and low-memory devices that transmit data to a centralized system for analysis or processing with minimal latency. It’s how most organizations are collecting streaming data to support real-time analytics.
If thin edge devices do take action independently, it’s generally simple, like responding to a light or motion sensor by taking a simple action. They’ve also been heavily employed in larger organizations as they’ve tried to connect their legacy or on-premises equipment to their public cloud, with thin edge devices acting as a “bridge” that securely passes requests and data between local hardware and the public cloud.
Continue reading: https://www.rtinsights.com/edge-computing-enters-the-thin-vs-thick-debate/


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