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vXchnge Edge Computing Course: All Your Questions Answered

By: Ernest Sampera on November 6, 2020

Organizations are increasingly turning to edge computing to address their growing network challenges to meet the performance demands of customers and employees alike. To understand why this unique approach to network architecture is so valuable, take a few moments to go through our “quick and easy” edge computing course!

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Edge Computing Definition

Edge computing is a different approach to networking architecture that shifts key processing functions away from centralized servers and out to the edges of the network where data is being gathered. This new approach is especially useful when it comes to integrating Internet of Things (IoT) devices into a network and delivering low latency services. Since more processing is being handled along the network’s edge and closer to where end users are located, edge architecture can significantly improve speed, performance, and reliability.

How Edge Computing Works

Traditional networks are rigidly designed to funnel all data back to a central point where it can be analyzed by powerful hardware that then transmits commands and other responses out to devices distributed throughout the network. The problem with this arrangement is that data doesn’t travel from point to point instantaneously. It is still limited by the laws of physics, so the farther it has to travel, the longer it will take to arrive. That means reduced performance in terms of latency, which measures how long it takes for a data packet to travel between points in a network.

Edge computing combats latency by shortening the distance between where data is gathered and where it is processed. This could mean locating auxiliary servers closer to end-users or deploying IoT devices with the ability to process and react to the data they collect. The key factor is that data being generated on the network edge primarily remains there, with only some of it being relayed back to the network’s central core.

By located essential processing functions closer to the network’s edge, organizations can deploy applications and tools that are much more flexible and less dependent upon high levels of connectivity to function. Edge devices typically have enough processing power and storage to function effectively until they’re able to reconnect to the rest of the network. This has made them especially valuable for many healthcare and industrial applications.

What is an Edge Data Center?

Most organizations rely upon data centers in one way or another to deliver online products and services to their customers. Traditionally, that has meant using a single data center (perhaps with a backup location) that serves as the central hub of the network. As performance has become a more important differentiator in the market, more companies are turning to edge data centers to meet their needs.

The key distinguishing feature of an edge data center is its location. They tend to be located in emerging markets that are underserved by larger data center providers. By placing servers in edge facilities, organizations can avoid the dreaded “last mile” latency problem that so often cripples network performance. Streaming providers, for instance, can cache popular content in edge data centers to both deliver low-latency media to local users and take bandwidth pressure off more distant facilities that are serving other markets.

Edge Computing vs Cloud Computing

While it’s common to see the question “What’s the difference between edge computing and cloud computing” asked, it’s not particularly helpful to think of them as being opposing approaches. Edge computing is best thought of as a way of designing network architecture to minimize latency and the amount of data traversing the network. Cloud computing, however, has more to do with infrastructure and the virtualization of hardware assets.

It’s entirely possible, for example, to set up a cloud computing network that incorporates edge computing architecture by adding some form of processing capacity along the outer portions of the network. In most cases, that will consist of smart IoT devices that are able to gather data and perform some processing tasks without having to transmit requests and receive commands from the central cloud.

Edge Computing FAQ

Here are a few more questions people often have about edge computing:

Does edge computing need 5G?

No. Edge computing and IoT devices can function perfectly well with existing cellular connections, WiFi, or cabling. The performance potential of 5G connectivity would, however, make many edge computing deployments more effective.

Is edge computing secure?

Like any other network, edge architecture presents a number of security challenges that every organization should be aware of. The principle issue to watch in edge deployments is the broad surface area of the network, which provides multiple attack vectors for a potential cyberattack. Edge networks should incorporate zero-trust security architecture to ensure that an attacker cannot penetrate the network further after gaining access to an edge device.

Is edge computing new?

While edge deployments incorporating IoT technology are innovative and new, the actual concept of locating key processing functions close to end-users is an old one. Latency has always been a challenge with computing networks, but for many years bandwidth posed a much greater problem. When bandwidth volumes and processing speeds were both low, latency issues tended to go unnoticed. Now that modern connections can deliver high volumes of data to powerful servers, latency has become more noticeable and problematic. This has pushed many companies to embrace edge computing deployments.

How is edge computing implemented?

For many organizations, simply placing additional servers in an edge data center is sufficient to create an edge computing network. Some companies even use specialized micro data centers to further augment processing capabilities in edge locations. More complex networks may incorporate IoT devices that can function independently of the network and take over some of the processing load that typically goes back to the central servers. The proper configurations need to be in place to make sure data is diverted to the right destination.

Get to the Edge with vXchnge

With multiple data centers located in key emerging markets across the US, vXchnge is well-positioned to help our customers get to the edge. Whether you’re looking to extend your existing network’s functionality or improve performance to better serve end-users, our state-of-the-art data centers provide all the connectivity and reliability you need to build a versatile edge computing network. Every one of our facilities offers unmatched visibility and control thanks to in\site intelligent monitoring and is backed by a 100% uptime SLA to keep your essential data available when you need it most.

Talk to one of our colocation experts today to learn more about the edge computing capabilities of vXchnge data centers.

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