COVID-19 pushes IT architecture further to the edge

The growing impetus for edge computing in a pandemic-burdened world

It is an understatement that the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdowns have dramatically altered the ways individuals live and businesses function. Reliance on networks, infrastructure, the cloud and associated technologies has never been greater, and the effect of such dependence has laid bare weaknesses in existing architectures. The result has been a proliferation of opportunities and use cases for technology to remediate the pandemic-driven impacts to daily life, namely remote work, increased video streaming and surges in virtual collaboration.

Edge computing is one such supporting technology that was already becoming increasingly relevant in a world where low latency, advanced analytics and intelligent data mining were quickly gaining momentum across a wide range of industries. As devices have become more common and require more processing power, an increasing amount of data was already starting to be generated on what is referred to as the edge of distributed computing networks. By sending only the most important and least time-sensitive information to the cloud, as opposed to raw streams of it, edge computing preserves bandwidth, eases the burden on the cloud and reduces cost. The pandemic then serves as the quintessential blanketed use case for edge computing as the benefits provided by computing data at the edge, such as reduced networking burdens and increased processing speed, address many of the issues caused by the sudden spikes in network traffic and burden on systems.

The COVID-19 pandemic is dramatically accelerating digital transformation timelines for many enterprises while fundamentally changing the ways we interact with and consume data. As remote work and self-isolation measures have resulted in a dramatic uptick in the use of the web, cloud computing has become essential to businesses and people’s personal lives. Edge technology has only recently become recognized as a complementary evolution of cloud computing, and adoption of the technology has been more widespread. Previous use cases centered on leveraging edge computing’s core value proposition of alleviating challenges associated with bandwidth, latency and near real-time analytics. The sudden shift in workloads and network traffic, coupled with bandwidth constraints, has shined a spotlight on how the benefits afforded by edge computing can alleviate the challenges created by the pandemic.

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