While cloud is replacing conventional data centers at the core of the network, an entirely new technology tier – “edge” – is emerging as a complementary source of IT infrastructure, supporting many innovative technologies that promise to extend the use and impact of technology into entirely new domains.
Connectedness is an intrinsic component of the edge. It applies in two directions: client devices ranging from PCs to smartphones to sensors connect to more gateways and other powerful edge systems, which process time-critical responses and then communicate data safely back to clouds at the core of the infrastructure fabric.
The edge is broad in scope and deployment. It moves with the user of a device or an appliance or a transport, it morphs when a sensor or a beacon is triggered and it can expand or change when real and/or augmented environments interact. The edge includes the devices and networks that deliver mobility to users – and it also describes the infrastructure needed to support leading-edge solutions like IoT, autonomous and connected vehicles and field-ready AR/VR systems – solutions in which devices are connected and configured to support remote monitoring/service/control, or harvesting data from one or more connected systems and applying contextual analytics to support smarter decision making, or delivering inputs needed to provide better insight into current and future business opportunity.
To be fair, many of these edge-dependent systems are still in their infancy, and will gain widespread adoption after 2018 (or potentially, at some point in the next decade). But there are signposts that we can see today, which indicate how edge resources and expectations will evolve.
One such example is found in “connected PC.” In the context of a Interwork platform in 2018, connected PC may look like an odd inclusion – shouldn’t we focus instead on growth areas like sensors or smartphones, rather than an aging device type that is being eclipsed by these newer form factors?