There are plenty of reasons to get excited about Internet of Things (IoT) growth. Cost efficiency, reduced latency, and increased security are all IoT benefits that make connecting edge devices a boon for businesses.
And businesses across industries are certainly taking advantage. According to Gartner, the number of connected edge devices is expected to reach over 20 billion by 2020 (up from 6 billion in 2016).
Despite enthusiasm for the IoT and edge computing use cases that it enables, there seems to be a common misconception—one that has turned “intelligent edge” into a buzzword.
Simply having connected edge devices doesn’t mean you’re taking advantage of the intelligent edge. If deployed properly, its potential is so much greater.
Simple Edge Devices vs. Intelligent Edge
The difference between a true intelligent edge and a collection of simple, connected edge devices is a matter of sophistication.
Simple edge devices are those that emerged in the earliest days of the IoT. They were meant to capitalize on the greatest strength of pure IoT connectivity—data collection. Typically, a simple edge device is a sensor that performs a single purpose. For example, a smart meter on a building that collects energy consumption rates and relays that stream of information back to the central data center.
There’s plenty of value you can derive from simple edge devices and a powerful big data analytics platform. However, that’s not the limit of edge computing and the intelligent edge.
A true intelligent edge requires more than just data collection. Rather than relying on the central data center to do the real work, the intelligent edge brings compute, storage, and networking capabilities to the point of data collection.
In some cases, businesses are building the intelligent edge by embedding these capabilities directly into IoT devices. However, you can get even more out of the intelligent edge by going a step further and deploying edge clouds.
Establishing the Intelligent Edge with Edge Clouds
Shifts in data processing have been iterative over the years. The monolithic data center gave way to cloud computing. Cloud computing was supplemented with simple IoT devices. And now simple IoT devices are becoming intelligent edge devices with the power to compute at the source of data.
All of these shifts have occurred to satisfy digital transformation demands. Applications continue to demand more and more resources, leaving IT no other choice but to streamline operations.
The same way that simple IoT devices aren’t enough to create an intelligent edge, building processing power into edge devices won’t keep pace with resource demands forever.
That’s why the most powerful intelligent edge is built with edge clouds.
Think of video surveillance as an edge computing use case. As simple IoT devices, surveillance cameras can capture real-time data and stream back to a central data center. That’s not efficient enough.
Rather than building cameras that have processing power built in, you can deploy edge clouds to unlock new functionality and unlock the real benefits of the intelligent edge. Edge clouds are small-footprint environments that maximize compute, storage, and networking functionality for edge devices. With edge clouds in place, you can enable those simple IoT surveillance cameras to compress data, optimize processing, and complete advanced tasks like facial recognition—all without taxing bandwidth and data center resources.
Having resources in the right place, in the right amount, at the right time, and with integrated connectivity means you can adapt to new business demands and regulatory requirements quickly and efficiently.
If you want to learn more about how edge clouds work in practice, check out our free white paper, Opening Up the Edge: Edge Computing & The Internet of Things.