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Edge and 5G: The Future of IoT

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digital transformation

Edge computing is a distributed information technology (IT) architecture in which client data is processed at the periphery of the network, as close to the originating source as possible. What’s interesting is that it goes hand-in-hand with several other prominent technologies, especially Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G. In fact, edge and IoT are more than just complementary technologies, they depend on each other for performance enhancement.

Edge computing is very relevant in the COVID-19 era. In the span of one year, we had moved to a complete ‘work-from-home’(WFH) model, to a hybrid model and now back to a majorly WFH model amidst the second COVID wave. The number of devices that are directly or indirectly connected to our work, or business has risen exponentially and hence edge computing and security is increasingly gaining prominence.

IoT devices produce humongous volumes of data that need to be processed in real-time to deliver results faster as timely delivery is of prime importance. Edge computing places storage and computation services closer to the source of data which allows the data to be processed at the edge where the device is located to enable instant response-time.

To understand this better, we need to look at how IoT and edge computing work together:

The use of IoT enabled devices such as smart wearables, smart homes etc. are constantly on the rise. These devices collect data every single second, and earlier they used to send this data to the central data center for computation. When trillions of gigabytes of data is transmitted to the central cloud, the bottlenecks and latency are inevitable. Further, this diminishes the purpose of these devices which are expected to deliver the processed data in real-time for users to make informed decisions. In this situation, edge computing has emerged as the viable solution as it helps IoT devices to process some of the data locally before sending it to the central cloud.

Edge computing supports the decentralized or distributed IT infrastructure where network of local micro data centers are placed for storage and processing purposes. At the same time, the central data center oversees the proceedings and gets valuable insights into the local data processing. Hence, edge computing serves a variety of purposes in the current IoT landscape.

Benefits of Enabling Edge Computing for the Internet of Things (IoT):

  • Lesser Network Load
  • Zero Latency
  • Faster decision making
  • Reduced Data Exposure
  • Computational Efficiency
  • Data Security
  • cost optimization such as reduced cloud spend or data center footprint

So, what does the future look like for IoT and edge computing?

The emergence of edge computing and 5G is revolutionizing the IoT industry. As 5G offers wireless communications services with reduced latency, increased connection density, and improved flexibility compared to the current 4G generation, it will enable edge computing and IoT to realize its full potential. To function efficiently, IoT requires local micro data centers for storage and processing purposes, edge computing coupled with 5G would provide just that.

As edge and 5G will enable enterprises to collect and process data in real-time, IoT applications will become more sophisticated. However, we need to keep in mind that we are in the early stages of edge and 5G revolution and currently it cannot completely transform the IoT industry. At present, the top industries for IoT – Edge Computing are Drones, Self-Driving Vehicles, Smart Cities, and Industrial IoT. However, this list will continue to grow in the years to come.

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