KEY POINTS

  • Edge computing is becoming an important new technology within the IoT. It provides a means to collect and process data at local computing devices rather than in the cloud or a remote data center.
  • We estimate that 5.6 billion IoT devices owned by enterprises and governments will utilize edge computing for data collection and processing in 2020, up from 570 million devices last year.
  • Many IoT devices don’t have their own computing power, and edge computing is often better suited for collecting and processing data from these devices than the cloud. Edge computing can be accomplished using gateway networking devices, industrial PCs, or micro data centers.
  • The edge computing model is uniquely well suited to IoT applications because of several key benefits.
    • For large IoT implementations, sending large volumes of data back to the cloud is much slower than processing at the edge, which allows for near real-time analysis of data.
    • Edge computing reduces costs related to operations and data management compared to cloud computing, although it is more expensive to implement initially.
    • Because the model reduces the amount of data sent back to the cloud, it's less likely to choke up networks.
    • Edge computing can ensure that other IT assets stay operational even when one device malfunctions because processing is distributed across multiple devices.
  • Because of edge computing's benefits across large-scale IoT implementations, we expect the manufacturing, utilities, energy, and transportation industries will be the fastest to adopt the technology. These industries will be followed by smart cities, agriculture, healthcare and retail. 
  • There are some key challenges, though, that will need to be overcome in order for edge computing to take off. Deploying edge computing for IoT devices can be a complicated task, but emerging standards could help simplify deployments.

Why Edge Computing Is Set To Take Off

For businesses, the most important benefit of the IoT will be the data generated by billions of new smart sensors and devices. The “Internet of Everything” — all of the people and things connected to the internet — will generate 507.5 zettabytes (1 zettabyte = 1 trillion gigabytes) of data by 2019, according to Cisco. Managing, sifting through, and analyzing so much data will be a massive challenge for organizations. But that data analysis will be essential if IoT initiatives are going to provide the insights to drive greater [...]