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The IoT and edge computing – a match made in tech heaven

Published Monday 11th February, 2019

For the past decade, the cloud has been the go-to for storage but with the ever-expanding Internet of Things, a new faster, decentralised network, called edge computing has appeared – and it may well be the most effective solution for your business.

Let's take a look at why the IoT and edge computing work so well together, so you can decide if it’s time to start living on the edge...

What is edge computing?

Traditionally, we've stored the vast majority of our business information in data warehouses or more recently, the cloud, and for simple and secure storage this is still a great option. We can back-up our critical data offline and send it to reliable data warehouses run by huge concerns like Amazon, or send it to the cloud using providers like Google Drive or Dropbox.

Edge computing still relies on the cloud or data centres but differs in one crucial way – it allows data to be analysed at the edge of the network before sending it to a central data warehouse or the cloud... which makes it absolutely perfect for IoT enabled devices.

Why is edge computing perfect for the IoT?

We touched on the crucial difference between edge computing and centralised data processing and collection, but why does that make it perfect for the IoT? Well, the four really good reasons to consider edge are:

1. Latency – probably the biggest advantage is speed because data is processed locally rather than being sent to a larger hub or into the cloud, which makes it ideal for IoT devices that need to talk to each other in close proximity and may not have the processing power of, say, smart phones. In short, improved latency equals better app performance.

2. Security – keeping data moving locally between devices restricts hacker opportunities and considering our recent report on the current challenges to IoT security this has to be a serious consideration when looking at edge computing.

3. Reduced storage costs – the costs of storing vast amounts of data in the cloud can be prohibitive - especially if your apps are collecting and sharing a lot of information - but edge computing allows them to share amongst themselves and only send vital data to the cloud or data warehouse for back-up.

4. More effective and efficient business – all of the above advantages lead to improvements in the day-to-day efficiency of your business because you’re no longer tied 100% to an internet connection – in the event that it goes down, your apps and devices still communicate with each other. Faster and more secure devices, naturally, improve productivity and cost-effectiveness… not to mention enhancing your company’s reputation and stature.

We're not suggesting that edge will be perfect for every IoT situation, but it's fair to say that it offers an elegant solution for many time-sensitive systems and devices that simply must keep working – like autonomous vehicles or hospital equipment. With this in mind, the only real question you need to ask yourself is whether you can afford to ignore the potential of edge computing for your business?!

LMFLMANatWestGoldman Sachs