The edge was a hot topic throughout 2018 as companies began to understand that the edge is the new cloud. The transition and adoption will be a big part of IT strategies in 2019 due to a few key trends that will drive that adoption at a rapid rate. It’s been forecasted that the edge computing market size is expected to value at $3.24 billion (USD) by 2025.
Daily, I’m presented with questions from customers about how they can plan for their new initiatives, what technologies they should be considering for their business needs and how to know what is an emerging technology versus what is just a fading trend. This year, IT leaders should be aware that these are the trends that are sticking around and will continue to see investment and development as they become staples in the way businesses operate.
1. Companies will increase the amount of IoT data generated.
The internet of things (IoT) has already shifted the way companies operate and the way they generate and share end-point data. Consider devices that track a person’s vitals throughout the data and send that data back to HQ for processing, or the 67% of manufacturing plants working toward a “smart factory” operation. Statista estimates that at the end of 2018, there were over 23 billion connected IoT devices across the globe. Advancing into 2019, organizations are going to continue to move toward the IoT space to increase the intelligence they can offer and the automation they can achieve.
Businesses that are considering IoT or have already rolled it out will continue to see the new impacts and developments around making it smarter, faster and more supported. Don’t be afraid of the new technology coming into the market — the industry is moving rapidly, and new platforms will become adoptable more quickly than in the past.
2. High-bandwidth budgets will get converted to edge compute budgets.
The mass adoption of the cloud has led to a bandwidth problem. As more and more processes and applications are hosted in cloud platforms like Azure, AWS or Rackspace, those providers are capitalizing on the higher and higher bandwidth costs in order to send and receive data from the cloud. The effects of that are felt across an IT budget as you continue to modernize and move more applications and data to the cloud in order to reduce capital expenses. It’s been an issue that many cloud platforms have capitalized on.
With edge compute platforms, the bulk of the data aggregation and processing happens right at the edge, meaning that a large portion of the data doesn’t actually get passed to the cloud — just the processed results do. This means that customers can lower their bandwidth costs by converting the bulk of their data processing to local compute. This swing away from large data passing will transition IT budgets to focus on placing more compute at the edge, and reap more benefits than just bandwidth savings.
3. AI will continue to drive business development.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has swept into businesses across the globe, bringing advances in technology and giving businesses a competitive edge. In fact, almost 85% of respondents to a recent survey said they believe that AI will give them a competitive advantage.
AI often is dependent on the cloud, allowing it to be backed by massive computing power. That trend is shifting to host AI at the edge, giving it capabilities to learn and deliver a highly effective result in real time. That is because the data doesn’t have to travel to the data center to be processed and risk latency or packet loss, degrading the performance of the AI platform itself.
Business leaders wanting to incorporate AI into their businesses must first analyze the outcome they’re aiming for. Determining that will help guide them toward what technologies will serve them the best.
4. Microservices will facilitate edge development.
As the shift toward microservices begins to take off, businesses will require more flexibility and agility in their networks. Microservices make it simple to push business rules, processes or policies into discrete packages that can be aligned with various business needs, easing the ability to scale. They also make it easy deploy new services quickly and integrate with other platforms. Microservices can sit at the edge and support IoT platforms so they can have a small footprint and consume as little compute resources as possible, meaning IoT platforms can run at lightning speed. This shift toward smaller processes will require the edge to be able to support and excel at delivery to give businesses the performance they need.
Planning the needs of your edge and designing the solutions around it will allow microservices to fall into place. With each new requirement or process flow, a complementary microservice may become available.
As companies continue to make their operations “smart,” I see the market making significant gains to keep up with the compute needs of those platforms. The edge is no longer in proof-of-concept phase; it has entered into mainstream adoption and is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 41%. Businesses are adopting edge strategies to continue to advance their operations and bring real-time performance to their networks.