Edge Computing Framework

In 1910, writing a newspaper column, the legendary inventor Nikola Tesla quipped, “The spread of civilization may be likened to that of fire. First, a feeble spark, next a flickering flame, then a mighty blaze, ever increasing in speed and power.”[1] As has been evident from the past 50 years of technology evolution, the emerging notions of computing and communications follow the same script. With each new breakthrough, the impact of how computing and the power of communications is adopted grows bigger in magnitude. We are living through an amazing technology renaissance wherein several economy-altering trends are shaping our world at the same time.

The notion of industry disruption as new technologies are introduced is not new but each time it is a bit different. In the Connected Intelligence era, we are seeing accelerated pace of change like never before. All this is leading to the evolution of computing itself. From mainframe to client-server to cloud, computing has fundamentally altered the global industries, the way we communicate and interact with information.

Now, thanks to convergence of the forces mentioned above, we are in the early stages of a new form of computational model that takes advantage of the resources available in the connected world – Edge Computing. The compute platform can reside at any point of the end-to-end network to enable faster processing, creation of actionable knowledge, and enable new ways to distribute data and intelligence that were not possible before. In fact, Edge Computing will transform every aspect of the computing and communication ecosystem and the value chain.

Edge doesn’t replace cloud but rather supplements it by sharing the workload in scenarios that are not well-suited for the traditional cloud architecture. Additionally, some of the emerging use cases in multi-player gaming, AR/VR, autonomous vehicles, using facial recognition for security, content especially video management, offloading, and delivery.

We are still in the early stages of understanding the capabilities and the potential of Edge Computing. There are many use cases that are already in the works. We don’t entirely know which horizontal and vertical segments will be the biggest winners or which specific featureset will be most used by the developers or how fast they will scale. Each entity will look at the Edge Computing opportunity from their own lens be it their vertical industry or a tool that serves the ecosystem. We know that Edge Computing will redefine how we deal with bits and bytes but what will be the contours and trajectory of this set of opportunities.

We think the opportunity is best understood with the help of the developer community and the ecosystem. To start an industry conversation around Edge Computing opportunity, this paper presents an Edge Computing Framework to look at the opportunity across multiple dimensions: horizontal areas, verticals, functionality, market size, location and time to market. We will try to understand the opportunity using some current use cases and present our first cut of the framework output. By refining it over time as more insights and data become available, we will be able to understand the long-lasting impact of Edge Computing and shape the opportunities to come.

[1] Source: What Science May Achieve This Year, Nikola Tesla, Denver Rocky Mountain News, Jan 16th, 1910

This research paper is being published in partnership with MobiledgeX