The research firm focuses on the potential benefits of edge, as well as some of the growing pains facing the integration of emerging technology.
Research firm Forrester has assessed: edge computing and its role in future technologies as part of its recently released research. †The future of edge computing” goes into detail about the potential innovations that this type of technology offers, as well as some of the drawbacks of using advanced edge technology.
Future benefits of edge computing
Three key insights Forrester brings out in the report show what edge computing will be capable of in the future:
- Edge computing promises significant benefits for software everywhere
- Edge innovation will lead to smarter, faster digital experiences everywhere
- Edge networks will make us more connected and interdependent
Forrester suggests these benefits will materialize through: affinity with workload† With this concept, enterprises can deploy software wherever it works best, whether that be in a data center, in a cloud environment, or in different applications on the same network. The company says AI/ML, analytics, IoT and container solutions will power these new assets, with systems ultimately choosing where to run based on efficiency.
Some of the benefits the research firm cites include interconnectivity for devices, as linking these systems becomes more the standard and not a rarity. While it may be difficult right now to see how devices can run software both within the cloud and beyond, edge processes like these are expected to make both work seamlessly. One example brought up in the report relates to how easy-to-connect software in refrigerators, servers in shopping centers or cameras on street corners will run on a public cloud.
Second, the emergence of this technology is expected to leverage on-premises data when it comes to AI preparing for the future needs of users. AI and real-time insights are one of the most anticipated features of edge computing, especially among telecommunications companies and their executives. Qualcomm has already started working on this process by partnering with startup Juganu to create smart traffic lights to identify potentially dangerous traffic situations and change signals based on the data it collects.
Technologies such as: 5G, LTE, energy-efficient wireless technologies, and software-defined networks are already working towards making edge-to-cloud networks a reality. Composable infrastructure is expected to be able to efficiently deploy distributed software systems when needed. Accenture and Intel have made this happen as the two companies have built new “far edge” networking and software capabilities for industries such as hospitality and entertainment.
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Roadblocks to make edge a reality
While the benefits listed all seem noteworthy, Forrester does anticipate obstacles to making the world more connected and efficient. A major challenge in research is the ways in which emerging technology will affect both trust and businesses in the future. Because a large number of devices and networks are interconnected, this provides potential new openings for criminals to take advantage of any gaps in cybersecurity† As the problem worsens, companies may be slow to adapt to these changes until many of the kinks are ironed out, especially when looking at industries with sensitive data like healthcare. This could potentially slow down the rate at which edge could grow, making the process of connecting everything slower and more painful.
Another issue raised is that of sustainability. Data center carbon emissions now surpass those from pre-pandemic air travel, and as edge requires additional resources, this could exacerbate the problem. As many consumers have said sustainability is an important factor for them to consider when choosing the companies to do business with, this can become a sticking point for those concerned about the emissions caused by the extra hardware and electronic waste.
Solutions to the obstacles do not come immediately
In the short term, one of the ways companies can prepare for the coming edge revolution is by focusing on how to phase out 3G networks and how that will affect existing connections. Many companies want to do just that in 2022, so untangling the clutter associated with those connections is a must. Another way companies can plan for edge is by investing in private 5G networks and in enterprise edge capabilities. By partnering with a company that can deliver these private 5G services and improve network security, companies can streamline their move to edge and help solve the aforementioned growing pains.
Long-term sustainability will have to be an issue to be addressed over time. One way companies can achieve this is by reaching buildings net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as set out in the Paris climate agreement† Edge is expected to help urban areas reduce waste and energy use, but it won’t be immediate. Forrester also cites precision farming as a possible solution, reducing the overuse of land and water.