Produced by a collaborative group of leading companies, as well as independent researchers, this report aims to show the state of edge computing today and educate the reader on where this collection of technologies is heading in the near future.
Over the last couple of years, edge computing has emerged from relative obscurity to become one of the most talked about trends in internet infrastructure. Some critics believe that there is no need for edge computing, but I firmly believe it will be one of the most significant technology disruptions in my lifetime—building upon and exceeding the massive transformations of the public cloud.
The disruptive potential of edge computing is fueled by the unprecedented growth of data, the imminent impact of 5G networks, the growing importance of latency and regulation in dealing with data, and the emergence of a distributed computing architecture that favors specialized hardware like GPU’s and offloads. As a result, infrastructure, in general, is starting to evolve at “software speed” – iterating rapidly and attracting a wide array of contributors.
Like most new ecosystems at early stages of development, the excitement and potential of edge computing is a complex set of definitions by a wide range of participants, adding to the confusion around this topic. This report seeks to rationalize the different factions and help the industry converge on a common definition of edge computing and its related concepts.
Although there is no single edge, nor a single type of edge computing, we all benefit greatly from a shared understanding and a strong dialogue. In this regard, the inaugural State of the Edge report (with its diverse group of supporters and authors) is built on a compelling premise: that collaboration and openness can greatly accelerate even the most complex ecosystems.
A fantastic example of this mindset is the Open Glossary of Edge Computing, which was developed for this report but has also been turned into an evergreen open source project where contributors are invited to provide suggestions, corrections and additions. Another example is the Edge Computing Landscape, to which anyone may suggest edits and additions. Already, many standards groups and organizations, including the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), are contributing towards these efforts. This is a powerful trend to support, and I encourage you to get involved and add value wherever you can.
The opportunities in edge computing are immense. In a recent talk, Tim Hockin, a Principal Software Engineer at Google and one of the leaders of the Kubernetes project, proclaimed that it’s an “exciting time for boring infrastructure.” I couldn’t agree more. The level of innovation in every aspect of infrastructure down the component level is accelerating and we are witnessing a new renaissance.