Computers

Computing at the edge: Let’s get on board – ComputerWeekly.com

Summary

Edge computing is one of those terms that means different things to different people; its definition differs based on the context. The term is used widely in internet of things (IoT) environments where sensors are amassing huge amounts of data. Rather than transmit this data to a back-end server for processing, an edge computer, close to the sensors, will process the data and only transmit aggregated data or alarms to the back-end server.

Another use case is a factory. A multitude of…….

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Edge computing is one of those terms that means different things to different people; its definition differs based on the context. The term is used widely in internet of things (IoT) environments where sensors are amassing huge amounts of data. Rather than transmit this data to a back-end server for processing, an edge computer, close to the sensors, will process the data and only transmit aggregated data or alarms to the back-end server.

Another use case is a factory. A multitude of computers control the production environment that is manufacturing product. Often, the factory will have a local network connecting systems to allow staff to monitor the production process, and for machine control systems to exchange information. This could be an Ethernet network if the factory is cabled, a simple Wi-Fi environment if latency is not an issue, or an SD-WAN for sophisticated networking with heightened security, latency and redundancy requirements.

It makes no sense to communicate all this data back to an administrative system that does not need to know how many times a drill press has operated; it just needs to know how many finished products have hit the conveyor belt.

Vehicles are an interesting use case. Anyone who has driven a late-model car gets an inkling of how much computing is occurring in the vehicle the minute an alarm goes off and the brakes slam on, just because the design engineer thinks you’re too close to the car in front. Edge computing is vital in a vehicle in order to manage communication to and from it, be it the policeman investigating an accident, a technician providing maintenance, or the traffic light you are approaching with your left turn indicator activated.

Homes are going to need their own edge computer, too. With systems controlling the lights, air-conditioning and entertainment devices, and controllers monitoring the solar panels, deciding whether to feed the batteries or the grid based on the spot price for electricity, an immense amount of processing is occurring that does not need to leave the house. Given the cost of internet traffic, whether it be fibre or 5G, an intelligent router, minimising communication on the public internet, is a good idea.  

There are many reasons why edge computing makes sense, but the two biggest are security and cost.

Edge computing can be a physical device such as a Wi-Fi router that connects a network to the internet, or cloud-based services that provide supervisory control to operational systems and aggregate data from devices on the network. This enables security controls in operational technology environments – restricting access to production computers ensures they remain dedicated to their mission-critical workloads.

Cost is also an issue. If data is being communicated to head office from a factory environment, you don’t want to send more than you have to. Most telecommunications carriers have subscriptions that charge for the data transmitted – properly managed, this can significantly reduce the communications expense for a company.</…….

Source: https://www.computerweekly.com/opinion/Computing-at-the-Edge-Lets-get-on-board