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The Factors Pushing Edge to the Forefront

What is causing edge computing's shift to the mainstream?
By John Fryer
Sep 23, 2018

Edge computing—defined as computing infrastructure that exists close to a source of data that helps to collect, analyze, store and use data in a meaningful way—is quickly gaining popularity across many industries. By harnessing computing at the edge, rather than in the cloud or via a centralized data warehouse, organizations can leverage real-time data processing to significantly improve the way they run their businesses.

Gartner predicts that by 2021, 40 percent of enterprises will have an edge strategy in place, up from about 1 percent in 2017. But what is causing edge computing's shift to the mainstream? There are a number of elements to examine that can help us get a better understanding of why edge has emerged and why it is needed.

The Rise of the Internet of Things
It is estimated that by 2020, more than 5.6 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices in enterprise environments will utilize edge computing for data collection. That represents significant growth over 1.6 billion devices in 2017, according to Business Insider Intelligence's 2016 article, "Edge Computing in the IoT: Forecasts, Key Benefits, and Top Industries Adopting an Analytics Model that Improves Processing and Cut Costs."

This influx in IoT devices is causing the amount of data being produced to skyrocket, thus requiring a way to process it more quickly. This has caused edge to emerge as an improved alternative to the cloud in IoT environments, as it can process data right where it is being produced, and it allows for real-time data, which some business-critical applications demand.

The Need for Real-Time Decision-Making
As the IoT becomes more mainstream, it is emerging in industries in need of innovation, such as manufacturing, energy and waste management. For example, manufacturers can implement IoT sensors on a plant floor. Edge computing can then be used to instantly process the data collected by these sensors, giving manufacturers information on how to make faster, more informed decisions that optimize the supply chain, streamline production and reduce costs.

The Opportunity to Close Modernization Gaps
The IoT and edge are enabling data center modernization and improvement. Most organizations looking to adopt these technologies have legacy systems in place that are expensive to rip and replace all at once. Virtualization can provide an affordable way to update and innovate these environments, while capitalizing on modern devices. This can be done without sacrificing existing systems, since edge devices can be used as a communication bridge between legacy systems and modern machines, allowing them to leverage the benefits of real-time data immediately.

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