What is edge computing?

Edge computing is a new type of compute power that exists between the smart things and the cloud.

It is surprising how many new things around us have small computers inside them. These embedded computers are in automobiles. They are in home appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners. Restaurants have smart kitchens now with computers in the freezers, stoves and deep fryers. They are called smart things. In industry it is even more prevalent, with machines having multiple smart sensors and factories having hundreds of such machines. An oil rig, for example, has approximately 30,000 sensors on it.

All of these smart things generate a ton of data. They are constantly publishing the measurements from all of their sensors. The idea is to push that data to internet so people can analyze it and learn new ways of making the machines and the processes more efficient. Hence it is called the internet of things (IOT).

Originally we assumed that we would just publish all the data to the cloud. We underestimated just how much data all of these smart things would generate. It is growing exponentially and it is already overwhelming.

As an example, it would take 12 days to push just one day’s worth of data from the 30,000 sensors on an oil rig. As a result, only about one percent of the data is used for decision making. Most of that data is going unanalyzed and unused. It is just dropping on the ground. Imagine what could be done with the data to make oil production more efficient or safer for the environment or safer for the men and women who work there.

Companies that are using the internet of things and machine learning realize that it is impractical to move all the raw data to the cloud for analysis. These companies need to move compute power from the cloud back to the edge, as close to the source of the data as possible. That is what we call edge computing.

Edge computing does not replace cloud computing. It does not even compete against cloud computing. Edge computing complements cloud computing. Edge computing processes data that would otherwise fall on the ground and makes the results of the processing available to the cloud.

Edge computing is exciting new space for technology. We designed Hivecell to meet the unique challenges of this space. We will talk more about those challenges in future posts. In the meantime, I hope you will read more about Hivecell or watch a short one minute video of how it works.