With every passing day, we are increasingly moving towards a data driven world. The vast amounts of data being generated every moment is multiplying by leaps and bounds. Alongside this trend, the use cases for this data are also constantly increasing.
This is where technologies such as Edge Computing come into play. The Internet of Things (IoT) devices is yet another domain rapidly emerging as a solution to our day to day tasks of a repetitive nature that can easily be automated.
Why Edge Computing?
As the sheer pace and quantity of data that is being generated is constantly rising, so is the need for processing this data in close proximity to its source. This need is strongly being felt for a number of reasons, some of which are explained below.
The data that is being generated by IoT devices such as sensors is of little to no use from a storage standpoint. However, the data that is produced by IoT devices is of paramount importance in real time scenarios, where even milliseconds count a lot.
So, under traditional hardware settings apart from Edge Computing, this data has to pass through a lengthy cycle, before any meaningful command or instruction can be generated. After all this processing, the output has to travel back to the IoT device for execution.
This execution, which is the last step in the whole data loop, could be a change in the ambient temperature of your room, or something of the sort. However, when data has to pass through such a lengthy cycle, an inescapable outcome is lag or latency.
Now, many day to day use cases are emerging where there is little to zero room for latency. Instead, latency in some cases can result in either huge financial losses, or even damage to life and property.
Self driving or autonomous cars are a classical example of this urgency to process data at or near its very source. So, this is where the strong complementary bond between Edge Computing and IoT devices comes into the limelight.
Edge and IoT – An Inseparable Combo
From the above discussion, it becomes quite evident that Edge and IoT are emerging as a nearly inseparable duo. Both these emerging technologies, when used in tandem in the right environment, have the potential to transform our day to day lives in a huge way.
In the near future, we can easily visualize fully smart towns and even huge metropolitan cities that are powered by this Edge and IoT duo. Functions such as traffic management, water supply, power, garbage disposal and other civic utilities can be automated.
However, there are still some roadblocks or challenges around the use of Edge and IoT. Lets briefly discuss those limiting factors as well.
- The infrastructure for 5G technology, which will act as the “data highway”, is still in the works, despite huge financial commitments by industry giants.
- Until 5G infrastructure development picks up pace, data will not be able to move to and fro between the Edge and IoT quickly enough to deliver the desired outcomes.
- The Edge and IoT framework is so complex, due to the vast number of different devices in the loop, that fragmenting such a complex and intricate network is still very difficult.
- As a result, when it comes to real life implementation scenarios and inter usability, things are not as good actually on the ground as they may seem on the surface.
- There is a wide disparity between compute environments, data related protocols and connectivity, resulting in a super complex Edge and IoT environment.
- Unlike the Cloud, where you enjoy instant scalability, Edge and IoT environments are not as scalable. This is largely due to the inherent complexities of such setups.
Every new or emerging technology presents certain challenges in its early days. With a right sense of direction, strong resolve and the appropriate tools, these bottlenecks can be overcome, resulting in a technology that impacts billions of lives.
Edge Computing and IoT hold the same amount of potential within them, but will take their time to mature as mainstream technologies. As both are highly interdependent, achieving a key milestone in any one of these domains will bring us closer to the overall objective.