Why we need Edge Computing
According to IBM, “Edge computing places networked compu...
Edge computing is, unlike most emerging technologies, not defined by what it is, but where.
According to IBM, “Edge computing places networked computing resources as close as possible to where data is created.” This means less centralised infrastructure, localised data processing, and faster systems overall.
Currently, the vast majority of enterprises deploy one of three types of network solution:
On premises: data centres house large scale server racks owned and operated by the user.
Colocation: customer equipment is hosted in a fully managed building where power, cooling, and connectivity are provided as services.
Cloud: customer infrastructure is partially virtualised, allowing solutions and applications to be provided through a truly as-a-service model.
Where edge computing differs from these options is in its use of portable “micro” data centres and smaller servers to allow for massive reductions in the distance between the processing point and the consumption point of functionality in the network.
This means benefits like minimal latency, simplified maintenance and less money spent on cooling. Grand View Research predicts that by 2024 the global edge computing market will reach above $28bn.
Gigabit Magazine looks at some of the applications that are pushing us towards an edge computing-enabled future.
On the edge of 5G
The benefits that 5G adoption can deliver are myriad - touted as the key to unlocking everything from smart city infrastructure and cloud gaming to autonomous vehicles and intelligent automation. Regarding the Internet of Things, 5G is expected to increase the number of connected smart devices exponentially in the coming decade. That’s a significant rise in the demand placed upon currently centralised networks.
At the 2019 Total Telecom Congress earlier this year, representatives from BT, CenturyLink, STL Partners and Vodafone spoke with confidence about the indispensable role that edge computing will play in enhancing 5G to a point that supports a business case for mass adoption.
“It’s no secret that the business case for 5G is a bit shaky,” said Dalia Adib, Practice Lead, Edge Computing, at STL Partners. “A lot of operators are looking at other ways to generate value for customers and within 5G, there’s a lot of potential in the enterprise space so the edge provides a stepping stone to start the discussions with those customers, build relationships and procreate services that 5G could enable in the future that can be achieved with edge today.”
Paul Savill, SVP, Core Network and Technology Solutions, at CenturyLink agreed, noting that “5G absolutely needs edge more than edge needs 5G. The reason is, you can do edge without 5G but if you deploy 5G and don’t have an edge strategy then you are going to miss out on a huge part of the market opportunity.”
With the global growth of mobile gaming, alongside the unending quest for more powerful software and graphics to support increasingly lavish and deep gaming experience, 2019 has been the year where cloud gaming emerged to position itself as the heir apparent to interactive entertainment.
Microsoft’s Project xCloud and Google Stadia have both begun trials this year, and a number of smaller companies, like Blade (which just raised $32mn to support the development of its cloud gaming service, Shadow) are also beginning to fill the market with viable options.
However, the limitations of current networking capabilities are holding back the adoption of the technology, which basically requires a 5G connection to be fast enough to stream a game from the cloud and onto the user’s phone with enough immediacy to create a viable gaming experience.
In combination with mass 5G rollouts, the drastic latency reductions that edge computing can provide are going to be an essential part of bringing cloud gaming into the mainstream.
Augmented and mixed reality
“There’s a great deal of innovation in the pipeline. But few concepts rival augmented reality’s potential. AR will soon gain mass adoption and permeate both enterprise and consumer markets. Edge computing will enable new levels of user engagement to take place locally on AR devices. Through better computer processing, users can expect to see more vivid, faster AR experiences in the near future,” says Marc Fischer from Dogtown Media.
Also closely linked to 5G connectivity improvements and the increased computing power of the cloud, increased AR capabilities will rely heavily on immediate responses, in order to seamlessly map experiences and information onto a physical environment. The technical benefits of edge computing, both to 5G and cloud computing in general, will be a massive driver of mixed reality solutions, in both the commercial and consumer space.
Fastly's CDN Reportedly to Blame for Global Internet Outage
A huge outage has brought down a number of major websites around the world. Among those affected are gov.uk, Hulu, PayPal, Vimeo, and news outlets such as CNN, The Guardian, The New York Times, BBC, and Financial Times.
It is thought a glitch at Fastly ─ a popular CDN provider ─ is causing the worldwide issue. Fastly has confirmed it’s facing an outage on its status website but fails to specify a reason for the fault ─ only that the problem isn’t limited to a single data centre and, instead, is a “global CDN disruption” that is potentially affecting the company’s global network.
“We’re currently investigating potential impact to performance with our CDN services,” the firm said.
What is Fastly?
Fastly is a content delivery network (CDN) company that helps users view digital content more quickly. The company also provides security, video delivery, and so-called edge computing services. They use strategically distributed, highly performant POPs to help move data and applications closer to users and deliver up-to-date content quickly.
The firm has been proving increasingly popular among leading media websites. After going public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2019, shares rose exponentially in price, but after today’s outages, Fastly’s value has taken a sharp 5.21% fall and are currently trading at US$48.06.
What are CDNs?
Content delivery networks (CDNs) are a web of small computers, or servers, that link together to collaborate as a single computer. CDNs improve the performance of internet-connected devices by placing these servers as close as possible to the people using those devices in different locations, creating hundreds of points of presence, otherwise known as POPs.
They help minimise delays in loading web page content by reducing the physical distance between the server and the user. This helps users around the world view the same high-quality content without slow loading times.
Without a CDN, content origin servers must respond to every single end-user request. This results in significant traffic to the origin and subsequent load, thereby increasing the chances for origin failure if the traffic spikes are exceedingly high or if the load is persistent.
The Risk of CDNs
Over time, developers have attempted to protect users from the dangers of overreliance through the implementation of load balancing, DDoS (Denial of Service) protection, web application firewalls, and a myriad of other security features.
Clearly, by the state of today’s major website outage, these measures aren’t enough. Evidently, CDNs present a risk factor that is widely underestimated ─ which needs to be rectified with haste. Content delivery networks have become a key part of the global infrastructure, and so it’s imperative that organisations start to figure out risk mitigation strategies to protect companies reliant on the interconnected service from further disruption and disarray.