As the 2010s began, cloud environments and services were in the early stages of development. Many pundits couldn't have guessed how enormous and necessary the cloud would become. Now, the cloud points to a new era of networking: edge computing.
Edge computing will thrust the internet into a new era of its transformative history, following in the footsteps of cloud environments, according to Matt Trifiro, chief marketing officer of edge data center startup Vapor IO. Edge computing, which processes data closer to data sources for diminished latency and quick response times, was developed in response to demands for speed that continuous internet advancements -- such as rich media and video capabilities -- brought to the surface.
"We are literally in the process of, once again, rearchitecting the internet to enable it to act as a platform for the next generation of applications built by the next generation of developers," Trifiro said.
The "State of the Edge 2020" report -- from the vendor-agnostic edge computing trends and awareness State of the Edge group -- delves into where edge computing currently stands and how the architecture will change the internet over the next decade. Trifiro, co-chair of the report, said edge computing is a natural extension of the internet and cloud environments and predicted worldwide edge computing availability around 2025.
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The report also explored edge computing trends in relation to wireless advancements, such as 5G, as well as how various edge computing use cases will lead to what it called an "edge-enabled internet."
Enterprise edge computing trends for 2020s
Enterprise IT will see various edge computing trends and growth throughout the 2020s, the report said. The key edge computing trend to benefit enterprise IT customers is edge computing's ability to streamline and simplify workload migrations. By 2028, 9.3% of enterprise IT workloads will be deployed at the edge.
Edge computing will also affect other use cases, such as manufacturing, retail, healthcare, automotive and residential environments. However, as the need for speed and compute closer to data sources grows, these use cases may shift, and organizations that provide infrastructure services may glean the most benefits from edge computing.
"Worldwide, general availability of edge computing beyond these early use cases will become commonplace sometime between 2025 to 2028," Trifiro said. "Providing an edge computing environment for a factory floor might happen earlier."
Matt TrifiroCMO, Vapor IO
Use case deployment may depend on the existing devices and architecture of an organization's network. The internet was developed for humans, yet humans aren't the only things that now use the internet or require it to function. Communication among various machines, devices and applications requires faster architecture to function efficiently, and edge computing aims to answer this call.
The early stages of edge computing trends are what Trifiro called "solution-specific," meaning edge computing services focus on specific, individual situations rather than services that could benefit various use cases. Yet, over time, edge computing will focus on platforms and alleviate abstraction complexity, so developers can focus more on the edge applications themselves. This is still a few years off, though.
"2020 is what I would call a year of infrastructure building, and we might have a couple years of that," Trifiro said. "To some extent, I imagine, by probably 2021, we'd actually stop talking about the edge because it'll just be absorbed into the entirety of the internet."
Once edge computing is made accessible to all use cases -- not just specific ones -- these edge applications will expand and grow in popularity. Like the early days of cloud environments, Trifiro said, he believes these edge computing trends will be equally as transformative.
Edge computing, 5G go hand in hand
Edge computing may become an essential part of the internet, yet it also has close ties with the latest generation of cellular technology: 5G. Edge computing and 5G are tightly coupled, as the two can enable one another for virtualization and automation capabilities. Together, they can support workload migrations and benefit the cost and flexibility of wireless network operations.
The same is true for Wi-Fi 6, Trifiro said, as the new generation of Wi-Fi technology could act as an alternative to 5G in some use cases.
However, for organizations eager to deploy edge computing services, Trifiro suggested teams become as familiar as possible with cloud-native technologies.
"The best thing that an enterprise can do is continue down their path of becoming experts in using cloud-native technologies," Trifiro said. "That will put them in a position to adopt edge computing when it becomes a natural extension of how cloud applications are built today."
Edge and cloud computing processes share similarities, so it may be safe to assume edge computing will be in a similar, ubiquitous place in the coming decade.
"I don't think the fact that the entire planet runs on cloud servers was seriously in everybody's minds," Trifiro said. "The fact that you could buy a computer that doesn't have real applications, where the entirety of your experience is running on a server in the cloud and delivered through a web browser -- that's absolutely miraculous. And I think we're going to have the same kind of experience with edge computing."
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