When involved in discussions around the Cloud or hybrid Cloud you will likely hear the terms IoT or the Internet of Things as well as Edge Computing. Both are components of a hybrid or multi Cloud strategy or architecture.
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to literally billions of physical devices connected to the internet, collecting and sharing data. It’s possible to turn almost anything into part of the IoT. At the simple end, think of the light bulbs, internet connect doorbells and cameras that you may already have in your home. Take this to the next level and think of smart electricity or gas meters, sensors in agricultural machinery or location sensors tracking individual online shopping parcels.
Adding digital intelligence to otherwise dumb devices and allowing them to communicate in real-time without human intervention has the potential to open up new business opportunities and revenue streams for your organisation. With IoT networks of intelligent devices you can connect all your ‘things’ with your people, data, and processes, from the factory floor to executive offices.
Edge computing refers to the data storage and processing of information close to ‘the edge’ where ‘things’ and people produce or consume that information.
Rather than relying on a central location that could be hundreds or thousands of kilometres away from an IoT connected device, the processing is done (often in real time) closer to the device so that it does not suffer latency (speed) issues that could affect its performance or the validity of decisions made using that data.
Data used to make decisions made at the Edge is also often volatile and as such it does not need to be stored for an extended period. Once a decision is made or an action is taken, then the data is no longer useful. An added benefit for an organisation processing at the Edge may be reduced cost as the amount of data required to be transmitted to and processed at a centralised or remote cloud-based location is reduced.
The rise of 5G networks will also be a catalyst for edge computing technology.
With the right technology and architecture, all the enterprise-class data management capabilities that are used in core data centres – be they private or public Clouds can now also be deployed at the edge. You can get a consistent and resilient approach to the collection, management, and movement of data. Given the geographically disparate locations and huge number of devices it is imperative that you manage and secure your data as it moves from the edge, to the core, to any cloud, and as it is processed and presented to key decision makers along its journey.
It is imperative that you understand the potential security issues around IoT devices and the Edge to make sure that those systems can be secured and monitored.