What is Edge Computing?
Edge Computing today is a somewhat nebulous concept with an associated set of equally hazy related technologies. The Linux Foundation's LF Edge project is all about Edge Computing and is seeking to help define Edge Computing and its' associated concepts with the second version of the Open Glossary of Edge Computing released on August 29.
"As the diversity of LF Edge increases, we want frameworks in place that make it easy to talk about edge computing in consistent and less-biased ways," stated Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, Edge, and IoT, at the Linux Foundation. "It’s imperative the community comes together to converge on a shared vocabulary, as it will play a substantial role in how our industry discusses and defines the next-generation internet."
Edge Computing has been loosely defined in the past as computing that happens at the edge of a network, for example in a remote location, as opposed to in the cloud or in a core data center. The Open Glossary of Edge Computing however provides a somewhat more verbose definition.
"By shortening the distance between devices and the cloud resources that serve them, and also reducing network hops, edge computing mitigates the latency and bandwidth constraints of today's Internet, ushering in new classes of applications," the glossary explains. " In practical terms, this means distributing new resources and software stacks along the path between today's centralized data centers and the increasingly large number of devices in the field, concentrated, in particular, but not exclusively, in close proximity to the last mile network, on both the infrastructure and device sides."
The Glossary also defines a number of other key terms related to Edge Computing including:
Edge Data Center - A data center which is capable of being deployed as close as possible to the edge of the network, in comparison to traditional centralized data centers. Edge refers to the location at which these data centers are typically deployed. Their scale can be defined as micro, ranging from 50 to 150 kW+ of capacity. Multiple edge data centers may interconnect to provide capacity enhancement, failure mitigation and workload migration within the local area, operating as a virtual data center.
Edge Internet Exchange - An instance of internet exchange functionality being performed at an infrastructure edge data center. An edge internet exchange may be used in an attempt to improve end-to-end application latency compared with a centralized internet exchange.
Edge Network Fabric - The system of network interconnections, typically dark or lit fiber, providing connectivity between infrastructure edge data centers and potentially other local infrastructure in an area.
Edge Node - A compute node, such as an individual server or other set of computing resources, operated as part of an edge computing infrastructure. Typically resides within an edge data center operating at the infrastructure edge, and is therefore physically closer to its intended users than a cloud node in a centralized data center.
Edge-Native Application - An application which is impractical or undesirable to operate in a centralized data center. These applications are typically developed for and operate on the edge data centers at the infrastructure edge. May use the infrastructure edge to provide large-scale data ingest, data reduction, real-time decision support, or to solve data sovereignty issues.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.