It’s enough to push you over the edge! Edge computing is the dominant term associated with enterprise computing in 2019. But why? In a nutshell, edge computing includes a set of connected systems and devices that can gather and analyze data – close to users and close to the data, instead of at a data center. Why does it matter? Edge computing is making continuous innovation possible in areas such as Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, advanced analytics, and IoT. Think about it: smart street lights, autonomous vehicles, automated industrial machines, or even smart devices using Natural Language Processing (NLP) – these technologies all require massive amounts of near-real-time computation to work. Edge computing or the intelligent edge makes these processes possible because there’s no delay in transferring information.
Infrastructure functions are processed on the actual device at the edge of the network, instead of at the corporate network or in cloud data centers. Pairing edge computing with 5G networks will bring even more significant transformation with faster speeds and lower latency – delivering on the promise of near real-time computations and connections. Let’s dive deeper into the characteristics and capabilities of an intelligent edge.
- The foundation of edge-to-edge intelligence – So, how do IT teams lay the groundwork for edge computing? It starts with virtualizing the network infrastructure and functions. For these reasons, Software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) is a great place to start. SD-WAN is an intelligent, cloud-first way to build and operate a WAN because it centralizes control to securely and intelligently direct traffic. It also supports connectivity flexibility, allowing enterprises to leverage a diverse and cost-effective combination of transport services – MPLS links, 4G LTE, and broadband internet. SD-WAN also supports application-specific routing so solutions can automatically detect and support various types of applications and traffic.
- Self-learning and automated responses – SD-WANs are programmable, so they continuously monitor applications and available WAN transport resources. These capabilities are critical because SD-WAN can then quickly adapt to ever-changing network conditions – all to maintain the highest levels of application performance and availability. To support an intelligent edge, including AI capabilities or IoT, companies require network virtualization and self-learning, application-aware networks.
- Branch offices are now a bigger priority – Today’s modern enterprises don’t just have one, two, or even 10 branch offices and networks to manage. Most have a complex combination of branch offices and networks to support, from permanent structures to temporary offices like construction trailers. Or, they may have roaming offices, retail kiosks, digital signs, booths, or pop‐up stores. Each ‘branch office’ requires plenty of bandwidth, fast speeds, and reliable network access to connect users to bandwidth-hungry business applications. Instead of traditional WAN technologies that require costly links, multiple boxes, and equipment at each site, SD-WAN virtualizes and centralizes control. SD-WAN supports an intelligent edge because it eliminates the hub-and-spoke WAN architecture, which brings data back to the corporate office and causes delays in processing data. Instead, SD-WAN as a foundation delivers seamless branch connectivity to any number of network edges – all interconnected by a virtual, agile and software-defined network.
Even if your company isn’t ready to fully adopt and integrate AI or IoT, you need to start thinking about how edge technologies will change the game. Whether you’re a retailer looking to deliver innovative digital experiences, or you’re a healthcare provider that wants to improve communication to speed and personalize treatment plans, the intelligent edge is critical.