Imagine your future fully-autonomous self-driving car needed to make a split-second choice on the road and had to look up that decisive data. Would you want the request sent to a far away data center or one hanging from the nearest lamppost? Consider the impact of Edge Computing in this scenario.

The premise of Edge Computing is that data can be stored and processed ever closer to the need, reducing lag time. In the above example, the car manufacturer would purchase a little digital space on every street-side lamppost so data could be stored there, not just in the cloud or at company headquarters. Then passing cars send requests, get answers, and presumably the lamppost data centers report when requests are made.

Or consider two fully-autonomous cars driving past each other and both constantly sending out their location data to avoid other fully-autonomous cars. If each has the equivalent of a data center under the hood, both would process data from the other and make decisions on how to drive rather than asking the relatively more distant lamppost data center.

What To Expect

1) More Smart Devices

Smart devices are likely to increase by a factor of four in the next five years with a matching growth in data needs, and historically such predictions are understated. Even very recently, about 10% of enterprise data used Edge Computing for processing, while estimates say between 50% and 75% will be on the edge in 2025. Remote observers and equipment operators will be less responsible for making decisions which can now be made near the location by Edge Computing smart data centers and AI.

Consider how the equipment in an autonomous manufacturing center or green energy solar farm might need to adjust output based on damage to the equipment, local temperature, air pressure and other environmental factors – to do so, they will need to have sensors and autonomous decision making processes for an instant response. Then getting the products and energy to the next destination will also require a similar level of monitoring on the infrastructure and delivery system.

2) More Spending

Some research has suggested the Edge Computing industry will more than double before 2026 due to how many devices need data with zero lag for instant decisions. Costs will rise from infrastructure, installation, maintenance, purchasing space for data storage and upgrade fees. If these costs are not managed, they may go above the financial gains from Edge Computing and remote data processing.

Modernization efforts will remain a constant task, first in constructing and updating to Edge Computing data center models, then in upgrading all of the sites as new technologies arrive. Cybersecurity will become even more important. Many sites should expect to be attacked, even just by curious amateur intruders, especially because these data centers will have far less physical security than centralized cloud data centers.

3) More Companies Adopt Edge Computing

Many industries will need Edge Computing instead of sending data requests around the globe, whether in consumer tech, healthcare, manufacturing, retail and the military. The power requirements for Edge Computing will depend on the ever-advancing battery industry making their products abundant and cheap enough for every far-flung data center, and those batteries will in turn require Edge Computing monitoring. Most data centers will contain some level of advanced machine learning so they can make important decisions with minimal data, yet machine learning requires far more power than most computers and even some data centers today. Edge Computing data processing may be necessary and even preferred for distant operating bases engaged in military, pandemic or peacekeeping endeavors to clear up the fog of war, improve decision making and act on intelligence.

4) More 5G Alongside Edge Computing

Hordes of connected devices will need instant processing at nearby data centers for reporting, analysis and trend reports. Some data must be sent immediately and uses a lot of data bandwidth, such as medical images from every hospital sensor / personal smart device, or security video from every needed vantage point that could protect lives and property. More devices and equipment will be interconnected with free-flowing information so they can make decisions and give advice for what humans should do, rather than humans viewing the information and telling machines what to do.

5G will make everything faster, including Edge Computing because the two are so connected. This suggests some future technologies will rely on that combined speed and spread both even farther at the edges. Of course, when the successor of 5G appears then the Edge Computing data centers will need to be upgraded so they can continue to keep up, making the cost of such transition the real point of decision for creating and keeping data centers at the edge.

What This Means For Your Business

The ability to be a large-scale business with a smart product that needs to make instant decisions will depend on being able to install the equivalent of today’s small data center in every product or on being able to further spread the data out through the new cloud of Edge Computing. Every business that makes use of Edge Computing will need friends in the field who can install their Edge data centers in any location and environment.

Decision time for some devices will decrease as Edge Computing arrives in more places at the edge and more data is stored at these smaller data centers. Some data centers may hold onto less important data until slower times, creating a priority system based on need.

Conclusion

Edge Computing provides for the needs of constant data flow, difficult decisions, far more smart devices, information that doesn’t need to be kept, and instant and secure access to data. Businesses will need to either jump on the opportunities of Edge Computing so they can grow, or they will be locked out of these changes and unable to bring certain products to market.
​​Learn more about the importance of Edge Computing data centers at RACK59.