Edge computing may hold the key to a faster, cheaper, more sustainable internet
An alternative to cloud computing promises smaller carbon footprint and reduced latency.
Most of the time, storing data in the cloud—whether that's our own personal photos, or Netflix's stockpile of videos—gives us what feels like instant access to digital information. But a developing approach promises a faster, more environmentally sustainable means to managing our ever expanding digital data.
Dr Blesson Varghese is a senior lecturer and Principal Investigator at the Edge Computing Hub at Queen's University Belfast. He explains that with edge computing, some services of an application are not processed in the cloud, but on the "edge of the network," which could mean, say, your home router, or small, dispersed "micro-data centres", or even on the device itself.
Blesson spoke with Candian Radio channel CBC and host Nora Young about the future of edge computing, and the role it can play in the Internet of Things.
You can read or listen to their full conversation here.
Dr Varghese commented: "Forbes predicts that by 2025, there'll be over 50 billion devices connected to the Internet, and trillions and trillions of gigabytes of data being produced. So one of the key challenges that we need to address is: how do we cope better with the number of devices that are connected to the internet?
A lot of these IoT devices and sensors, they actually require real time responses. So they need computing to be as close as possible. So there is what's called the latency argument. Also, these devices and sensors are capturing sensitive data much more than what's been done in the past. So how can we make sure that this data is processed, maybe within one's own legal jurisdiction? So we call that a privacy argument. And then there's also the element of reducing the volume of data going to the cloud. So if you have more gadgets, you have huge amounts of data going to the cloud, and that is expensive. So we call that a bandwidth argument. And there's also an energy argument, which is, can we lower our reliance on power-hungry and concentrated cloud data centres. Edge computing is offering us more localised computing, and it's going to help us with the expansion, latency, privacy, bandwidth, and the energy arguments."
The Edge Computing Hub was recently established in Belfast. It is a growing and dynamic community of academic researchers and industry specialists that bring together the two worlds of computer science/IT and telecoms for making ‘Edge Computing’ a reality. The vision of the hub is to tackle key systems centric challenges for deploying massively distributed edge systems by embedding intelligence into key decision-making activities. The ECIT Institute and the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Queen's University Belfast have partnered with Rakuten Mobile to deliver this vision.
Learn more about the Edge Computing Hub here.