Edge Computing and IoT: Diving into their relationship

Edge Computing has pushed intelligence to an end in the domain of IoT. Data-handling operations are deployed away from centralized and always-alive networks to individual data endpoints such as laptops, tablets, or smartphones. To achieve this, network-level security has to be enhanced further to the next higher level.

There is a big concern in IoT about security architecture, as different devices get different access to a network. One identified strategy is to aggregate data and encrypt it as it passes through firewalls. Edge computing can decrease the distance that data must travel in a network, considerably.

When you feel that Cloud is no longer sufficient to analyze and respond to data requests by IoT connected devices and other digital platforms, begin your Edge Computing.

The philosophy behind Edge computing is to bring computing as close to the source of data as possible in order to reduce latency and bandwidth use. To put it better, edge computing means executing fewer processes in the cloud and moving the rest to local endpoints, such as on a user’s computer, an IoT device, or an edge server. Achieving this minimizes the amount of long-distance communication that has to happen between a client and a server. The most important note here is that the network edge has to be geographically close to the device, unlike cloud servers. If not, it would resemble the same as cloud computing.

Moving computing to edge costs money. However, with every infrastructure starting equipped with IoT devices, Statista predicts that by 2025 there will be over 75 billion IoT devices installed worldwide. To back this move, a significant amount of computing has to be taken to Edge.

Some of the biggest tech players — including Amazon, Microsoft, and Google — are exploring edge computing, potentially giving rise to the next big computing race.

Key benefits:

Drawbacks:

Bringing in edge servers and IoT devices available, the window is now opened a little for malicious attackers to manipulate these devices.

Another drawback is the need for hardware support for IoT devices. Considering the amount of network, processors involved to accomplish a minor algorithm, this proves costly. But cloud computing has proved to be effective looking at its cost.

With billions of heavy data-loaded devices connected to the internet, data processing will become critical. According to the CB Insights, the global edge computing market is estimated to reach $6.72B by 2022.

In 2016, Salesforce.com went offline for more than 24 hours due to an outage at Salesforce’s North American 14 site (aka NA14). Clients could not access troves of customer data which heavily disrupted business.

Salesforce has since moved its IoT cloud to Amazon AWS, but the outage highlights a major problem with relying solely on the cloud.

Since edge computing operates on data that resides on the local device level, data transfer to the cloud can be avoided. Also, would any malicious attacks on the cloud occur, the impact would be comparatively less as it depends on edge devices?

Microsoft has also made some major moves in the space. The company’s plan to spend $5B in IoT over the next 4 years involves its edge computing initiatives.

Microsoft’s Azure IoT Edge has extended its cloud computing to edge devices and can be utilized offline. Transportation, Healthcare, Agriculture are some of the areas where edge computing is expected to thrive.

Edge computing can provide an alternative solution, but since the technology is still in its infancy, it’s difficult to predict its success moving forward.

Challenges around device capabilities — including the ability to develop software and hardware that can handle computational offloading from the cloud — are likely to arise. Being able to teach machines to toggle between a computation that can be performed at the edge and one that requires the cloud is also a challenge.

Being in the infancy stage, edge computing is theoretically more secure as the data resides in local devices and very minimal data will be shared over the network to the cloud. This is true when the edge devices are developed with more encryption.

It is indeed a product that improves itself.

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