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Demystifying Edge Technology

Debates continue as to whether the Edge revolution is due to or despite the pandemic. However, as Alef's founder and CEO, Ganesh Sundaram shares in this byline, the industry is witnessing a perfect storm of possibilities where Edgetech solutions are leading in adoption curve sweepstakes.

The internet is supersizing, and innovation continues to drive the market. Between autonomous systems, connected intelligence, a 3D internet that brings the metaverse to reality, a connectivity revolution centered around private 5G and Industry 4.0, we are witnessing some significant market drivers.

Setting The Stage For Edge Technology

Technology innovation followed by market adoption often happens in waves. However, we are currently in the midst of multiple simultaneous adoption curves. In particular, these market-grabbing headlines are due in part to a confluence of technology waves that include:

• Citizen spectrum initiatives like Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), through which enterprises can launch their own mobile networks.

• 5G mobile internet broadband, with gigahertz wireless communications and massive multiple-input/multiple-output (MIMO) antenna technologies.

• Ultra-low latency combined with ultra-high bandwidth edge architectures.

• Application use cases like computer vision and AI-based IoT that require edge computing.

Although this list is not exhaustive, it is clear the industry is witnessing a perfect storm of possibilities. Such a phenomenon is not new. After all, since 2007, the combination of 4G-based mobile broadband, cloud computing, video-centric apps and the smartphone revolution created the current generation of the internet.

Edge Forecasts

Analysts are now starting to translate these trends into forecasts. By 2025, it’s estimated that there will be approximately 75 billion connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices and over 450 exabytes per day created in data generation and processing. Some early indicators of the related economic expansion are included in an October 2021 report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) titled “Internet Economy Grew Seven Times Faster Than Total U.S. Economy.”

Today’s Edge Opportunity

Although debates continue as to whether this revolution is due to or despite the pandemic, the sheer magnitude of applications is begging for new internet technologies, with expectations of continuous iterations and evolution at warp speeds. Clearly, cloud and allied technologies have brought significant agility to application adoption with new disruptive business models. But the need of the hour is exponentially higher performant infrastructure, with platforms capable of delivering significant increases in application responsiveness across a breadth of solutions.

More of the same will not work, as centralized cloud architectures are turning out to be bottlenecks threatening to reverse the gains made in the past decade. At its core, there is an architectural shift centered around decentralizing the internet, with edgetech (i.e., edge architectures and allied disruptive technologies) being at the center of this transformation.

The Value Of Edgetech

An additional piece of good news includes the value chain process organizing into distinct subcategories at a pace that is faster than previously witnessed. This is significant because organized market approaches often lead to faster collaborative economic outcomes.

Here is a look at the subcategories involved:

• Edge Infrastructure As A Service: This subcategory includes hyper-core silicon technologies, as well as autonomous and intelligent data centers to meet the demands of a decentralized internet. The basic shift from the past includes the miniaturization and distribution of data centers with high-performing compute infrastructures. This includes a small set of servers per data center but a distributed collection of shared data centers across thousands of locations.

• Edge Platforms As A Service: The past few years of innovation have helped jump-start a revolution in new platform technologies. This includes software-defined connectivity platforms with centralized control planes and distributed execution closer to users/devices, as well as new computing orchestration technologies that exponentially improve on contemporary software-defined data center technologies. The platforms also include distributed security with next-generation networking and software-driven WAN optimization, with software engines being moved closer to traffic sources (rather than routing traffic to centralized software engines in the cloud). Additionally, distributed application enablement platforms for the next generation of devices (these devices are not just consumers of data but creators of massive amounts of data, with limited compute) are included in this subcategory.

• Edge Solutions As A Service: This subcategory includes customized private 5G connectivity solutions for businesses, as well as computer vision and AI/ML-based solutions for different market verticals. It also includes autonomous systems, manufacturing 4.0 solutions, Web3 and metaverse solutions, education as a service solutions and many different verticalized market solutions.

A Connectivity Revolution

As observed earlier, a wireless connectivity revolution is shaping up. Private 5G, which means that enterprises can deploy and manage their own private 5G network, is probably the first edgetech solution that is currently leading in the adoption curve sweepstakes. Although many believe 5G is the beginning of the edge, we would argue that the edge does not need 5G to exist but, rather, 5G needs the edge. Moreover, with the advent of CBRS and the opportunities in the enterprise market, we have reached a perfect moment when this opportunity can be realized.

In closing, edgetech is a movement that requires collaborative platforms with a shared economic market model. One of the keys to achieving success in short order is centered around an edge API paradigm with a developer-first mantra.

Read the article on Forbes: Demystifying Edge Technology (forbes.com)

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