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Tanya Valdez is a Technical Writer at Constellix. She makes the information-transfer material digestible through her own transfer of information to our customers and readers. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
Before we get into how edge computing works and its benefits, we need to understand exactly what it is. For some time, it was hard for anyone to find an exact, sensical definition. To many, it initially seemed like a grandiose buzzword that was created by marketing experts to generate sales for something that already existed by making it sound new and “edgy.”
The word “edge” when used in the computing sense can still sound like a buzzword, but there is definitely an association to what edge computing actually is. It is distributed computing that takes place at or as close as possible to the source of the data. It’s like taking the cloud (where all of the heavy-lifting is done) and moving it to the device that is doing the actual computing or as close as possible to it.
Cloud computing has been the way to efficiently store and manage data. It provides on-demand availability of resources and stores them over the internet. Since we don’t see these files, we say they live in the clouds, when in actuality, they are distributed among multiple servers scattered across the globe.
Edge computing is simply moving where the computing is done. In this case, it is being moved from the cloud to, or as close to, the user’s device as possible, or “at the edge.”
The edge of the network is the door that accesses the network. The network edge is commonly referred to as the area where a device or local network interfaces with the internet. An edge network consists of pieces of hardware that control data flow, or endpoints. These endpoints are the network edge and serve as entry or exit points.
There are many devices that can assist in processing data in real time near its source. One of the most common types of edge devices is a router. Since they are set up to connect the network to the web, routers act as the gateway to the internet. Other examples include switches, firewalls, and other endpoints that serve as IoT (Internet of Things) gateways.
With the ever-increasing amount of data and connected devices, the list of who uses edge computing is a long one. It is an ecosystem of cloud, infrastructure, and communication service providers that work with organizations to bring their content and services to the edge. Examples of industries that benefit from edge computing include manufacturers, medical institutions, autonomous vehicles, and businesses with remote offices and employees.
Did you know? The worldwide edge computing market is projected to reach 250.6 billion U.S. dollars by the year 2024.
Although the primary function of edge devices is to maintain connectivity between different networks, the edge has evolved to support advanced services. This includes wireless networks, DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) utilities, and DNS (domain name system) services. DNS assists the resolving server by providing the domain name resolution for the devices in the connected network.
Now that you have a better understanding of what edge computing is, you may be wondering what are the associated benefits. For one, moving the data closer to the user improves speed and latency. Cutting down on distance also shortens the travel time in obtaining the information and reduces virtual road bumps along the way. The closer proximity of the resource also lends a hand to increased reliability in terms of potentially compromised environments and internet connectivity issues that can also take place in other data storage locations. There are also security benefits associated with edge computing because there is less data being transferred over greater distances. The more you can contain the area that needs to be safeguarded, the better the security benefits.
The frequency of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks increases by the year and the average cost of a DDoS attack averages between $20,000 to $40,000 an hour. Catching them at the edge helps absorb the large traffic spike to limit backend impact. There is a growing need for DDoS attack mitigation service providers. DNS management services can be implemented to monitor DDoS mitigation providers to give preference to the best-performing resources while removing unhealthy ones from configurations. This adds an additional layer of resource security to help avoid these types of attacks.
So, is edge computing just another buzzword in a grand marketing ploy? Maybe, but as we studied the semantics surrounding the use of the word, there is a definite technological meaning for it. Lexicologists and Linguistics experts can attest to the technology industry’s contribution to word formation (just look at converted words like granular, client, and handshaking). But until we see “edge computing” in the dictionary, just know that it is a way of bringing the network as close to the user as possible without actually storing and managing the data on the user’s device itself.
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