Organizations process massive amounts of data every day, in applications that often require near-real-time response rates. Innovations IoT, mobile computing, and AI are driving demand for very low latency connections. However, the traditional network model of a central data center serving distant offices and end-users can’t keep up with this need for speed. Enter edge computing, a networking model that moves data and compute power close to where it’s needed, at the edge of the network close to the devices and people that use it. In our post, we dive into some industry edge computing examples and how those industries benefit from the technology.
A quick edge computing overview
As Dominic Romeo, TierPoint’s director of product management explained, “When you’re inside a 50-mile radius, latencies get really, really low. The time it takes for the end user to send a command to the server and for the server to come back with a response are in the neighborhood of single-digit milliseconds versus double- or triple-digit milliseconds of round-trip time.”
What is edge computing?
Edge computing is a model where information processing (data and computing) is physically located close to the things and people that produce or consume it.
Edge computing enables:
- Near real-time response rates for applications in industrial robotics, patient care, finance, and customer service.
- Lower costs. Sending data back and forth over a long distance can be expensive, so moving it closer to users offers a cheaper alternative.
The proliferation of smart devices is a major driver of edge adoption. Many smart devices use artificial intelligence to get better at their jobs. An industrial robot, for instance, needs AI to react to changes in the production line. The closer the robot is to its AI brain, the faster it can operate. Autonomous vehicles need split second timing to assimilate traffic data and react.
Edge computing examples by industry
An August 2019 report by research firm ‘MarketsandMarkets’ projects the global edge computing market to grow from $2.8 billion in 2019 to $9 billion by 2024. Companies in industries from oil and gas to online gaming are leveraging edge computing to improve their products and services, cut costs, and increase market share. To understand the current and future potential for edge computing, read about the following examples of edge applications in five major industries:
Edge computing is enabling smart devices such as machine controls, environmental sensors, asset tracking, and assembly line robots to operate with greater speed and efficiency. Smart manufacturing devices rely on a tight feedback loop between input, analysis, and output to provide timely responses. For example, quality control monitors or equipment sensors must make rapid and accurate assessments. When they don’t, products may be rejected or recalled further down the line, or equipment may fail and cause lengthy delays in production.
Storage costs are another factor. Many manufacturers collect huge amounts of data from monitors, sensors, production line equipment, shipment trackers, and so forth. Processing and storing this data centrally is far more expensive than keeping it near the equipment that generates and consumes it.
Also read: How Edge Computing Aids Modern Manufacturing
Transportation and Logistics
While autonomous vehicles are a commonly known application of edge computing, there are many other uses. Management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. has identified two dozen ways that edge computing can improve operations in travel, transportation, and logistics, including: condition-based monitoring of transportation equipment, equipment tracking, logistics routing optimization, improved flight navigation, after-sales service of vehicles, and location based advertising on public transport. Edge computers might be placed in garages, at airports, on board vehicles, on planes, and in video displays on public transport.
Edge computing is spurring a range of innovations in healthcare by smarter, faster equipment. For example, hospitals can optimize equipment maintenance, track drug distribution, monitor patient condition in real-time, and manage nursing efficiency through mobile devices. AI assisted surgical robots can enable remote surgery and assist on-site surgeons to improve their success rates. Likewise, medical devices that collect patient data may also provide diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
Media and entertainment
Content delivery networks were some of the first uses of the edge computing idea. Rich content such as videos and games located on content servers close to major consumer markets reduced bandwidth demands and improved performance. Edge computing is a similar concept, with the addition of a compute component for streaming media, online gaming, or video-heavy social media sites. Coupled with 5G networks, edge servers enable mobile users to get smoother streaming video, without the need for buffering. Media companies can leverage edge capacity to collect and analyze data on customers to sell them more services and products.
Customer service and marketing is increasingly personalized and automated. Companies analyze volumes of data on consumer behaviors so they can provide customized services, both online and in brick and mortar retail outlets. Coupled with edge computing, retail stores can track an consumer’s route through the store and use that data to re-design store layouts or create tailored in-store advertisements. Augmented reality apps supported by edge servers can enable customers to “try on” clothes without physically putting them on. Those applications demand a lot of data and processing power, making them ideal use cases for edge computing.
Edge computing will also be adopted by other industries
There is a multitude of uses for edge computing in other industries too, including utilities, energy, semiconductor, government, telecommunications, automotive, education, and more. Within the enterprise, edge computing will enable faster connections to the cloud and improved response times by offloading data analysis and heavy content files to edge servers.
To accommodate the rising demand, cloud services providers, data center facilities, and network companies are expanding their distributed edge computing infrastructures. Many, such as TierPoint, already have regional networks of data centers that can support edge computing.
TierPoint’s 40-plus data centers with edge services provide reduced latency and powerful local computing capacity. Cut latency with robust local networking and fast last-mile connectivity for content and local processing for IoT and mobile applications.
Learn more about edge computing, download TierPoint’s Strategic Guide to Edge Computing.