As our information influx continues to increase multifold with the ballooning number of internet users and devices, the conventional cloud architecture may find itself ill-equipped to face all the new challenges industries may soon deal with. Without a solution that can address some of the primary concerns – potential delays, reduced network performance etc, many exciting use cases and new industries will find themselves in a difficult position for growth. Fortunately, the edge cloud offers us ingenious solutions – by bringing the functions of the cloud closer to the source of data generation. As a result, it eliminates latency, reduces network congestion, and creates new paradigms for exciting new use cases.
While existing industries and enterprises have much to gain from the adoption of the edge cloud, here are our favorite picks for sectors that will see edge cloud action in the near future:
Internet of Things
IoT devices can range from wind turbines and jet plane engines, to refrigerators and the tiny Amazon Dash buttons. Naturally, with a proliferation of such devices in mainstream use, a massive amount of data is going to be generated, and this is already happening. We’re expected to hit 50 zettabytes of data generated in 2020 – more than 3x of 2015’s value.
If this data is sent to the cloud servers for storage, it costs us both in terms of infrastructure requirements, and poor performance due to latency issues. Edge cloud proves to be fairly helpful here, courtesy its close proximity to the data producing devices. Plus, it also allows for new security mechanisms and protocols by limiting data exposure to malicious attacks, and reduces operational costs by doing away with the need for large centralised cloud infrastructure.
On the economic front too, the scenario looks bright. Mckinsey believes that the implementation of Edge Cloud can result in $200 billion in hardware value.
Autonomous vehicles are one of those categories of sectors where latency is simply unacceptable. And for good reason – since even a few milliseconds of delay could determine the fate of many lives. Edge computing acquires a prominence in such a case, where latency needs to be brought down to near-zero. Edge devices, coupled with the incoming adoption of 5G, will offer autonomous vehicles exactly the kind of digital foundation they need. According to Toyota – “It is estimated that the data volume between vehicles and the cloud will reach 10 exabytes per month around 2025, approximately 10,000 times larger than the present volume. This expected increase will trigger the need for a new architecture of the network and computing infrastructure to support distributed resources and topology-aware storage capacity.”
Toyota is referring to nothing else but the imminent need of edge cloud to tackle such colossal data. Multiple sensors attached to the autonomous cars collect a huge amount of data, and some time-sensitive sensors as Collision detectors have a very small window of operation. This need is suitably served by the Edge Cloud.
A close cousin to autonomous vehicles in terms of the need for zero latency, the healthcare sector stands to gain immensely from mainstream adoption of the edge cloud. Edge devices would enable healthcare professionals to access critical patient data, share it, and even request diagnosis and recommendations – all in real-time. Coupled with 5G and its zero-latency capabilities, remote surgical procedures could be made possible in what will perhaps be the biggest digital leap the healthcare sector would witness in recent times.
With the rise of smart cities, traffic management is set to grow exponentially in significance. Massive amounts of live data will need to be pre-processed and filtered before it can be sent over to the cloud for storage and analysis. Edge cloud should come to city administrators’ rescue here, with the potential for saving terabytes worth of data in transmission to central servers. Edge clusters and devices may analyse data and deliver actionable insights in a significantly efficient and resource-austere manner. Other advantages will include saving on network expenses and storage costs.
Augmented Reality/ Virtual Reality
Latency has been a serious hurdle in providing an immersive experience for AR and VR setups. With edge cloud, we stand on the precipice of experiencing the Virtual reality in a true sense. Reduced latency assists in processing the data from the point of origination.
Since latencies as low as 20 milliseconds are essential for a truly immersive VR experience, eliminating any perceivable lag may be a challenge suitably solved by edge cloud systems. Igal Elbaz, senior vice president of Wireless Technology agrees – “now you can think about placing low-latency, complex application and computation power closer to the users.”
The edge cloud shows much promise and potential. But even though the edge cloud may have an edge over conventional cloud, expect both technologies to develop a symbiotic relationship as they nourish and grow off each other.