Wednesday, 24 November 2021 15:00

Why we need Edge Computing

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Edge Computing is one of those terms that mean different things to different people.

Its genesis is in the Operational Technology world. Typically OT networks were isolated from the rest of the world because 1) they needed protecting and 2) had so much mission critical traffic and low latency data in transit. In order to manage the exfiltration of data it became fashionable to establish a computing device at-the-edge that would ensure only aggregated data left the network and only access to supervisory processes was supported.

A typical Industry 4.0 environment will have a myriad of systems on the network all controlling manufacturing processes with supervisory systems to allow staff to monitor the production environment and receive notification of events as they happen. An Edge Computer allows supervision to occur and the amount of data being communicated back to head office to be controlled. Management don’t need to know how many work-processes have been completed, they just want to know how many finished products have gone into inventory.

Vehicles are another case in point. There is an enormous amount of processing occurring in a car, from the critical control messaging advising various components of their status, to trip monitoring and recording. Real-time external communications is becoming increasingly important as road assets become more intelligent and provide better traffic management to appropriately equipped vehicles. An Edge Computing device can make sure that just the service record is made available to the workshop.

Then there’s the home environment. With increasingly sophisticated devices capable of being controlled remotely, everything from air conditioners and lights, to charging stations and grid feed-in controllers, the home environment is becoming an environment that must be protected and controlled; and an Edge Computing device, typically the Wi-Fi router can help.

There are two main reasons for using an Edge computer:

  1.  Cost – being able to limit the amount of data leaving the network means that the bandwidth requirement is lower and the associated cost is reduced.
  2.  Security – isolating production equipment from administrative interference by providing access to just the data that is needed by management, means operational systems can be protected.

The provision of edge computing devices is a technology whose time has come.

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