Living on the Edge
The mouth-watering smell that wafts over from your neighbor’s yard and hits your nostrils, creating both envy and urgency. The sizzling sound of the steak as you lay it on the hot grate. The satisfied smile that creeps across your face as you bite into that perfectly cooked burger. It can all only mean one thing. The greatest season of all is upon us. No, not holiday season. Grilling season.
Over the years, grilling best practices and preferences have evolved, from roasting on a spit to the George Foreman grill to the Big Green Egg; but the basic principles remain the same. For one, no two cuts of meat cook the same. For steak, you want a high heat, right over the flame to sear in all the juices. But for ribs, it’s low and slow, over indirect heat. The closer you are to the heat, the faster it’s going to cook.
Now, you may be wondering why your stomach is growling and also thinking, “When did LightEdge turn into a grilling blog?” But all of this is to help explain the concept of “edge computing,” which is the next bold step in the evolution of computing and storage.
To put it (relatively) simply, edge computing means that every artificially intelligent object will use vast amounts of processing power going forward. Each device we use, from your smart phone to your kid’s drone to grandpa’s medical equipment, is its own mini-data center.
You’ve probably heard of the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT). In fact, more than 50 billion things are projected to be connected to the Internet by 2020. Well, with that rise comes the need for faster processing times. Nearly every company in every industry has the need for near instant data in some capacity.
Well, the answer is edge computing (although it’s not that simple). Computing at the edge pushes most of the data processing out to the edge of the network, closer to the source of the data, for faster processing times and greater reliability. From there, it’s a matter of dividing the processing between the edge and the centralized system, which is usually a cloud-based computing system.
You use the cloud for processing that is not as time-sensitive or is not needed by the device, such as big data analytics or inventory control. But for cases where the reaction time is the key value to the IoT system (say, a smart traffic light, or a self-driving car), sending that data back to a centralized cloud would have far too much lag time for such critical applications.
So, just like your cuts of meat, each application requires different methods to get to the optimal end result. In this scenario, your steaks, seared quickly over direct heat, is your edge computing. Your ribs, cooked slowly to extract maximum flavor, is your cloud. One doesn’t replace the other, but instead can work in harmony to maximize efficiencies (and deliciousness).
Cloud and edge computing can live in harmony and smart businesses are finding ways to leverage the strengths of both. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to flip the steaks on my infrared gas grill and check the ribs in the smoker. Isn’t technology grand?