It’s no secret that today’s Internet of Things (IoT) paradigm has had a massive impact on IT – and specifically, data centers. Not only has the IoT movement pushed data center providers to enhance their services and operations and increase power capacities, it has also driven many businesses to re-think their infrastructure deployments and data center investments.
This shift in approach is necessary, especially since Gartner projects over 20 billion devices (excluding smartphones, tablets, and computers) will be connected to the internet by 2020. Businesses are challenged to ensure their overall network performance doesn’t buckle in the face of these expanding user networks and rising data volumes. As a result, edge computing is becoming an increasingly relevant solution for capitalizing on the IoT paradigm.
Edge computing is an exciting network development in which data gathered and produced by IoT devices is processed closer to the devices themselves rather than transferred across long routes to be processed in a centralized data center or cloud. Utilizing a mesh network of micro data centers with a small footprint, edge computing allows organizations to collect and analyze important data in real-time without overwhelming their existing infrastructure.
Here’s a few reasons why edge computing has become so critical to IoT:
Enabling instant, anywhere access to content is no longer a competitive advantage for companies – it’s a best practice. However, as IoT connects larger user bases across geographically dispersed markets, deploying a faster network is increasingly difficult
Edge computing helps increase network speed and combat latency. Since processing is moved to the “edge” of the network and closer to end users, less data has to travel across network connections to cloud and data center servers (and sometimes back again). By clearing up network traffic, edge computing can keep connection speeds high and minimize latency.
Network speed and location are interrelated. While data travelling along a fiber-optic cable theoretically takes 21 milliseconds to travel from New York to San Francisco, this estimate assumes both a direct path (unlikely) and fails to account for the infamous “last mile problem,” in which data is routed through a complex local network before reaching its final destination, adding another 10-65 milliseconds of latency.
When edge data centers are used to move data processing closer to the source, this number can fall into the microseconds. Reducing the physical distance between the data center and the end user both minimizes latency and enhances reliability.
Companies can also prioritize which data gets processed where. For instance, business-critical data can be processed at the edge data center while more long-term processing needs can be shouldered by another facility farther away. The result is more immediate access to content for users and better usage of bandwidth by the business.
With more and more companies embracing hybrid and multi-cloud solutions for their IT needs, data centers have become an important component of today’s network infrastructure. Edge computing allows organizations to leverage the security and reliability of data centers by distributing IoT computing resources as closely to end users as possible.
One of the primary criticisms of IoT devices is that they represent a potential vulnerability to any network. Since edge computing increases the number of possible attack vectors and vulnerability points due to its distributed architecture. Given these security concerns, quality edge data center providers have taken proactive measures to secure their clients’ networks. Some of these measures include cutting-edge cybersecurity technologies and industry-best certifications like ISO 27001.
But edge computing also provides some inherent security advantages as well. Since data collected by IoT devices is staying closer to the source and not traveling extensively over a network, the actual exposure to danger is limited. If one portion of a network is compromised, other environments are less likely to be at risk because the data isn’t shared between them.
If there’s one thing IT teams can be sure of, it’s that IoT and edge computing will continue to shape data center decision making and investments well into the future. This is good news for businesses because it presents them with ongoing opportunities to optimize their network performance, better serve their end users and improve their business operations.
Explore other considerations for capitalizing on the IoT movement through edge computing. Read about the power of edge computing in detail with this whitepaper.