The Rise (Again, and again, and again) of Edge Computing

Jim Machi : Industry Insight
Jim Machi

The Rise (Again, and again, and again) of Edge Computing

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Where computing power resides is like a sin wave.  Just ebbs and flows from being centralized to being on the edge.  When I first started work, we all programmed with mainframes from a dumb terminal.  Computing resources were in the mainframe.  (BTW – back then we had some kid of IM capability as that is how we would communicate with each other on what time to go to lunch).  

Then the tower personal computers came to the fore and computing resources moved to an edge.  That was the end of the company mainframe.  And then they become “movable” in the form of laptops.  So the edge got farther away from the mainframe and closer to the end user. But laptops were expensive so “thin clients” became the rage as companies attempted to control CAPEX costs and so resources moved back to being centralized.  Not sure that really worked though since road warriors on planes couldn’t get anything done (no WiFi back then on a plane). 

Smartphones are really like computers now.  And with smartphones, and tablets, and laptops of all forms, the power has moved to the edge.  And the edge has moved even closer to the end user (and begging the question of what does the 'edge' even mean?) 

But has it really moved to the edge (whatever that is)?  With the rise of cloud computing, everything is being centralized again.  Or was.  But now we’ve seen (the inevitable I have to say) issues of latency with the cloud.  Especially as it relates to real time communications.   So with virtualization, now you can move “cloud” resources to an edge, closer to the customer, maybe even on premise, as location and function can be separated.  Enterprise can still have a cloud, but they can choose what to keep in premise (edge computing) versus what can truly be in a cloud.  They might choose this because of security concerns, latency concerns, or spending concerns with regards to backhauling data. 

There are more choices now, and it’s really a hybrid world where you can pick and choose what you want, but in the end it’s all a big sin wave. 


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