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What Is Edge Computing? (A Basic Definition)

Edge computing is a distributed computing paradigm that brings applications from centralized cloud locations to the edge of the network, geographically close to devices and users.

By processing data close to where it’s generated, edge computing dramatically increases the speed, security, scalability, and availability of web applications.

Edge computing is a key enabler of the hyperconnected economy. It has accelerated the adoption of many transformational technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of things, virtual reality, and 5G.

The right time to adopt edge computing is now, as has been proven by many large global companies and governments that have already started innovating with edge computing.

To Get to the Edge, Let’s Start From the Cloud

To fully understand how edge computing works, let’s quickly review how cloud computing, the most popular form of computing today, works.

In the case of cloud computing platforms, the applications are executed in large centralized data centers. They are located in only a few dozen locations worldwide. However, the billions of devices and users connected to them are spread all over the planet.

As a result, data has to travel long distances over the Internet, often across multiple networks, before reaching cloud servers, where it is ultimately processed or stored.

It can lead to high network latency, excessive bandwidth use (which results in higher cost), and vulnerability from multiple failure points. That can negatively impact the customer experience and the agility of these applications and websites.

Enter the Edge…

In the case of edge computing platforms, applications run in server facilities called edge locations, which are located close to end users and connected devices.

While, as we have already said, cloud computing runs applications in a few places around the globe, edge computing runs applications in hundreds, even thousands of them. It is what allows data to be processed close to where it is produced and consumed.

Edge locations are usually located in every major city in the world. However, they may also be deployed in more restricted areas such as factories and office buildings.

Where Is the Border Between the Edge and the Cloud?

The edge is the network location where the edge servers are placed. It finishes where the last mile network — a network segment that connects the edge service provider to the customer and may not be a literal mile long — meets the public Internet.

Data arriving at an edge location can be processed or stored there, or it can be sent to cloud servers later.

Why Use Edge Computing?

Okay, we’ve already learned what edge computing is. Now, we’ll see in practice what advantages it offers.

The Response Time of Web Applications Is Much Faster

It is the result of processing and storing the data as close as possible to the user. The shorter distance speeds up application response times.

This is especially important for technologies that need to be highly responsive: video games, factory assembly lines, payment platforms, e-commerce sites, etc.

100% Availability: Your Website and Applications Never Stop Working

A distributed network of edge locations serves precisely this function: if one fails, the system will automatically switch to the next closest edge location and seamlessly continue to run the application.

And do you know how a website can go down because of a too-large and sudden increase in its users? Well, with edge computing, this is also a thing of the past. An edge platform will scale up on demand so that it doesn’t happen anymore.

What About Cybersecurity?

We can imagine the security at the edge as a circular perimeter around your origin infrastructure.

One of its main characteristics is that when your application is under attack, the closest edge location to the attacker’s source — which is also the furthest from your origin infrastructure — will intercept it.

This means more protection.

The Cost of the Edge

You are well aware of your costs if you have a company. And on this matter, we also have good news since two key factors make edge computing technology very attractive:

  1. An edge platform is a serverless and NoOps platform. That is, the edge computing service provider builds and manages the system infrastructure for you. All you have to do is simply focus on writing code.
  2. You reduce the high costs related to the transfer, storage, and processing of data that cloud computing services entail since the information (or part of it) does not reach the cloud.

A Different Way of Explaining What Edge Computing Is

Edge computing builds formidable engineering works and, to understand them, there’s nothing better than reading a technical description of them. However, now we would like to do it differently, through a comparison, an image:

Let’s think about movies.

You can see one by going to a movie theater. But you have to leave home, buy the ticket (assuming it’s not sold out), and one day, if there is a mishap and you are late or worse, you may not even get to see the movie… Cloud computing is like having to go to a movie theater to see a movie.

Or you can watch a movie on your TV. The device is in your house, you hit play, and that’s it. It’s simple, and you don’t have to wait. And it doesn’t matter how many people might be watching the same movie. Edge computing is like watching a movie on your TV.

How Can Azion’s Edge Computing Platform Help Your Company?

Azion offers a full-stack global edge computing platform that is designed to provide 360º attention to your company if you want to operate at the edge. It is a NoOps and serverless platform that frees you to focus only on building your applications.

To achieve this, we organize our offerings through these four pillars or groups of solutions, which you can see in detail in the Products section of our website:

Build

Our platform provides an environment (Edge Application), language-support, tools, and functionalities that allow you to build powerful applications in the language of your choice. You can also easily migrate existing applications. Whether using APIs or command line or our intuitive web interface, building and migrating apps to the edge have never been so easy.

Secure

Azion Edge Firewall is a security product that protects from the network layer to the application layer. It extends your security perimeter to the network edge, preventing unwanted requests from reaching your origin or accessing your applications. The added advantage of the Azion platform is that you can also make your own protection source code available and run it directly on the Azion distributed network.

Deliver

With Azion’s Edge Orchestrator, you can manage all your edge resources on the Azion Edge Network. In addition, you can also use it to manage and zero-touch provision all your existing infrastructure, such as cloud, IoT, and even other edge networks.

Observe

You can monitor your applications for a variety of metrics in real-time and from a single panel, for example, by using Real-Time Metrics and other observability products. You can also integrate with your existing analytics infrastructure. This makes it easy to optimize and improve your application performance even further.

However, each interested person first receives an evaluation tailored to their case. If you want more details about all of this or see how we can help your company with our edge computing solutions, feel free to consult one of our experts.