In IoT deployments, it is common to hear the term Edge. Many IoT solution vendors, especially in the industrial environment, acknowledge the capabilities of the Edge to generate business value. But what is IoT Edge and what is Edge Computing?
The first thing to do is to lay the groundwork and clarify what we mean by «edge». It is worth noting that the term «edge» is not equally understood by all industries (this is especially notorious in the case of the telecommunication industry, where the «edge» is literally the «edge» of the network, i.e. a node of the network itself).
In Industrial IoT however, the most widespread consideration and the one we use at Barbara IoT is that, the «edge» is the level closest to the physical world. It is the «T» in IoT: the devices. This includes both the set of sensors and actuators that interact with the physical world, as well as the gateways, hubs and other IoT nodes that communicate locally with the former.
The edge is the opposite to the cloud. While the cloud represents a set of services and systems that are remote and far from where the data is captured, the edge is the opposite; it is the local layer and the set of elements close to things and data collection.
The term «edge computing» refers to the set of techniques directed to process, analyse and exploit the data collected through all the elements that are part of the edge.
In contrast to cloud computing, the execution of algorithms and automated decision making is performed at the edge, without the need to send all the information to the Cloud. It moves all the computing power from the Cloud to the Edge from a central to a decentralized data exploitation model.
Edge computing enables data generated by the Internety of things ( IoT) to be processed close to its source instead of being sent over long distances to data center or the Coud.
Edge computing is a growing trend because it decreases latency, bandwith and overhead of centralized data centers by moving the device workload closer to the user. The relevancy of Edge Computing is not only because of the features mentioned before, but because of data mining possibilities that edge computing offers. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies can be greatly exploited from a distributed intelligence model.
Artificial Intelligence technologies are based on the execution of multiple complex algorithms that allow machines to «think», and to make decisions without the need for human intervention, simply from the data they process. And many of these algorithms can be run now close to the source of that data, i.e at the edge.
Likewise, IoT is one of the main avenues for collecting the data artificial intelligence algorithms need. The growing use of these technologies is by no means, a major boost for the use of Edge Computing in IoT.
The set of elements that make up the edge is by far the most vulnerable point of the entire IoT cybersecurity chain. And the main reason is the lack of firmware updates.
As users in mature sectors such as personal computers and cell phones, we are more than used to receiving notifications of new versions, security patches, etc. However, in the IoT world this is far from the norm. There are mainly two reasons why IoT devices on the edge are not being updated in the same way that our phones and computers are:
1. The immaturity of the industrial IoT market means that companies are focusing in other areas of Industrial IoT rather than in cybersecurity
2. Managing a distributed, remote and highly heterogeneous environment can be very complex without the right tools.
Edge Computing is becoming part of the business value for industries that seek to leverage real time data of their operations. To do so you need the capabilities of a technology that is able to securely capture data regardless the type of sources and that enables to conduct Edge Computing.
At Barbara IoT we are experts in connecting industrial equipment to the cloud and enabling cybsersecure intelligence at the edge. If you want to know how Barbara IoT can assist you in this journey, do contact us.