2020 Predictions for Edge Computing

Edge computing is increasingly appearing on lists of exciting, transformational technologies along with next-gen future-tech like artificial intelligence, quantum computing and so on.

Closely related to the growth of complementary technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) -- and enabled by others such as 5G -- edge computing is a modern distributed computing paradigm that places compute, storage and other resources closer to the edge of networks and the data they generate, which can speed up actionable analytics and other processing.

As advancements in IoT, 5G and associated areas make edge computing even more attractive to many organizations, research firms, industry pundits and other experts are paying more attention to edge computing in their annual tradition of providing year-predictions to guide business leaders.

Here's a look at what various experts have to say about edge computing in 2020 and beyond;

Edge Computing Makes the Leap
Forbes always likes to get in on year-end predicitions, and for 2020, the publication published these Forrester Research predictions about edge computing for 2020:

  • In 2020, fit, form, and function will drive development of custom form factors.
  • The edge cloud service market will grow by at least 50 percent.
  • Companies will choose multivendor packaged solutions over single vendors.

"The emerging category of edge computing has been steadily rising in importance and maturity, and 2020 will be the most interesting year yet for vendors and users in this exciting space," Forrester said on Forbes.

As a comparison, here's what Forbes predicted for edge computing in 2019:

  • Companies will increase the amount of IoT data generated.
  • High-bandwidth budgets will get converted to edge compute budgets.
  • AI will continue to drive business development.
  • Microservices will facilitate edge development.

2020 Will Mark a Shift in Enterprise IT as a New Era of Edge Computing Takes Hold
"The first-generation model of centralized cloud computing and storage has now run its course, and most of the new opportunities for enterprise data management reside at the edge," said Aron Brand, CTO of CTERA.

"75 percent of enterprise data is created in branch offices, on mobile devices and by IoT-enabled smart devices. Such data growth outside the datacenter is the new reality, and it's creating a need for enterprises to deploy computing power and storage capabilities at the network edge, aka edge computing.

"2020 will mark a shift in enterprise IT as a new era of edge computing takes hold. The first-generation model of centralized cloud computing and storage has now run its course, and most of the new opportunities for enterprise data management reside at the edge.

"Edge computing combines a cloud service located at a datacenter with an edge device near the end user capable of autonomously satisfying a portion of the application functionality. Consider your home virtual digital assistant from Amazon or Google. All of these devices' voice processing happen in the cloud. The edge compute for these devices is limited to 'wake words' that tell the device to send speech-to-text conversions to the cloud for processing.

"If these devices had more powerful edge compute power -- and it is likely that it won't be long before they do -- there will be some powerful improvements, including:

  • Improved response time: Amazon Echo will perform speech recognition locally and deliver a faster answer
  • Offline availability: even if a network is offline, the device will be ‘always-on'
  • Improved security and privacy: The need to send sensitive data to the cloud will be minimized and will reduce data privacy risks

"Enterprises are now investing in this kind of edge computing to move faster, to have data continuously available, and to improve data security. As edge computing enjoys greater adoption in enterprise IT in 2020, edge-to-cloud architectures that manage data centrally while making it instantly available to users at the edge will be a key enabler for business success. By offering low latency, reliable access to files, and cloud-scale economics, edge-to-cloud file services can revolutionize the way enterprises manage their valuable data assets."

Distributed Infrastructure and Edge Computing Will Accelerate Hybrid Multicloud Adoption
"There is a seismic shift underway across many industries as businesses are embracing edge computing and hybrid multicloud architectures. Increasingly, businesses are moving computing from centralized data centers to a distributed infrastructure and toward the edge, where data exchange and interconnection between businesses and cloud services are growing at an exponential rate," said Equinix, a global interconnection and data center company.

"The advent of edge computing has also become a foundational enabler for other emerging technologies such as 5G mobile communications, which will allow internet of things (IoT) and other edge devices to take advantage of faster connectivity to data and compute resources with single-digit-millisecond network latency."

The company said the key challenges to be solved by the combination of edge computing and hybrid multicloud adoption include:

  • Lower latency and bandwidth savings -- Proximate high-speed, low-latency connections (<60 – < 20 milliseconds) are necessary for companies to materially close the "distance gap" between their application and data workloads and cloud service providers (CSPs). With agile and scalable cloud environments closer to the users at the edge, data access and application response times can be faster and cost savings from reduced data transport can be realized.
  • Enterprise consumption of hybrid multicloud -- Enterprises generally determine which cloud platform to place their applications on by which CSP delivers the best service for a specific workload. This freedom of choice makes it easy and practical for IT organizations to experiment with different cloud platforms to see which delivers the best quality of service (QoS) at the best price. Additionally, more than ever before, enterprises require the flexibility of retaining control and securely running business-critical applications in-house and want the flexibility of leveraging both private and public hybrid cloud environments, depending on specific use cases.
  • Political and regulatory factors -- With more frequent and complex incidents of security and privacy breaches, many countries are regulating where and how data can be used. These privacy and data sovereignty compliance requirements will lead to more distributed data centers and cloud services that keep data local to a specific geographic region or country.

An Attack at the Edge Puts Businesses on Notice
"The continued proliferation of IoT devices is making edge computing an essential component of IT infrastructure," said security firm RSA. "But threat visibility becomes more critical as the number of endpoints in the network multiplies. A major security incident could see enterprises rushing to invest in monitored and controlled device gateways."

Edge Buildout
"By 2023, over 50 percent of new enterprise IT infrastructure deployed will be at the edge rather than corporate datacenters, up from less than 10 percent today; by 2024, the number of apps at the edge will increase 800 percent," said research firm IDC.

Not There Yet
"5G was widely anticipated in 2019, but I'm skeptical that we'll see an impact in 2020 -- or even 2021," said Bruce Milne, CMO of Pivot3. "As the pipes get more substantial more things can be done, which creates an opportunity for more, richer data to be transferred, and for more impactful applications to emerge. The edge is currently more conducive to applications like motion detection, assessing how many people are in a facility or if someone is loitering. Sophisticated computer vision applications -- like filtering out how many red cars went through an intersection during a public emergency -- need to happen on a much more capable platform when at enterprise scale. 5G promises to facilitate data collection at the edge and deliver it to the core, providing more federated models of collection and processing, but it's not there yet. I'm eager to see this technology emerge as mainstream because of the possibilities it enables but anticipate that we'll need to wait another year before it truly takes off."

The Empowered Edge
"Edge computing is a topology where information processing and content collection and delivery are placed closer to the sources of the information, with the idea that keeping traffic local and distributed will reduce latency," continued IDC. "This includes all the technology on the Internet of Things (IoT). Empowered edge looks at how these devices are increasing and forming the foundations for smart spaces, and moves key applications and services closer to the people and devices that use them. By 2023, there could be more than 20 times as many smart devices at the edge of the network as in conventional IT roles."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.