Edge Computing—Bringing Value to IoT

There are already many billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices in the business, consumer, civic, science, and industrial sectors. They’re scattered across the planet in assembly lines, vehicles, hospitals, cities, homes, environments, and even our clothing. They continuously generate vast amounts of data and their numbers will proliferate almost exponentially.

Edge computing exists to give meaning to that data. It is the IT infrastructure that connects datacenters and corporate offices to the real world that IoT devices sense. To understand edge computing is to understand the issues it addresses to make IoT useful.

JetStor 826AFA – Storage at the Edge

One is what to do with all this remotely-sensed data? There’s too much to stream to clouds or enterprise datacenters. The pipelines are too small, if available at all, for all the countless devices.

Moreover, is every data point of value? Often, device owners need to know only of outliers, such as when a machine is being overtaxed or when a patient suffers a medical event.

And does all the data need to be saved? Video surveillance, for example, must be saved for specified periods of time, or compliance demands might require some data to be preserved. But is this true for everything? If so, storage costs would skyrocket.

Edge computing offers decentralized processing at the edge, in proximity to the sensors and devices, to power analytics. Analytics convert raw data into real-time actionable intelligence. It extracts business, scientific, industrial, and personal value from the streams. The analytics generally occur at small, local data centers that are linked to the IoT devices. From these edge-computing sites, unnecessary data are weeded out and only processed data—the information of real value—are sent to clouds or corporate data centers. Edge computing helps to ensure insights are delivered rapidly and it lowers storage and networking costs.

Of course, storage is key to the process. The local data centers, often consisting of a few racks, require enough storage to store data streams and support analytics. For these deployments, far-sighted organizations will rely on all-flash storage solutions. Flash storage lowers energy consumption and offers the reliability needed for sites that often lack on-premise staff. Moreover, flash delivers the performance needed for real-time analytics.

In summary, edge computing helps to make sense of IoT data to improve efficiencies, productivity, safety, health, and knowledge.