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The Edge is More than a Place

Blog Author: Jeff White

Edge is going through a sea change today. Evolving technology ecosystems and new wave of applications in computer vision, Edge analytics, telco virtual radio access networks and autonomous vehicles require real time analytics. IT work at home and data privacy regulations are all driving the new paradigm. The outcome of these changes is an explosion of data produced outside the cloud and core data center. This data has two requirements: 1) a powerful compute capability to process it, and 2) real-time systems with very low latency that will provide insights and summarize the massive wave of data near the source. Addressing privacy and security are also key considerations in the evolution of Edge computing.

But first, let’s take a step back. Edge technology has a long history. In 1998, I worked in the Telecommunications industry and was challenged to bring broadband communications to all of our customers' businesses and residences in the southeastern United States. Our small team designed an architecture and platform to support high density electronics and deployed them into non-traditional Edge environments. We had to consider the level of networking and computation and the optimal architectural and physical placement, determine how to build a software stack and systems to support the deployment. We also had to create a new operational model. Many things had to be considered that were not anticipated at the start of this deployment.

Where is the Edge?

Edge as a place is best defined as where it is not. Edge is the deployment of integrated information and communications technology outside of the core data center and cloud. It is also not in the devices that leverage edge capabilities for operations and support. This location is very large space, everywhere exclusive of devices and cloud/core data centers. Indeed I call this the real world!  Therefore it is important to be able to support a different set of form factors and have a broad set of horizontal capabilities to support different workloads in the most effective manner.

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