Everyone seems to be jumping on the edge computing bandwagon these days, but why? This article goes into the details of what edge computing is and how we got here.
Content Delivery Networks, or CDNs for short, enable you to push all kinds of content to your end-users from the nearest location possible, often dramatically reducing latency and delivery times. CDNs consist of dozens or more edge locations scattered all over the world at strategic locations that contain petabytes of data (mostly media files), and when paired with intelligent network routing, they are able to push huge amounts of data (content) to millions of end-users with blazing fast speeds.
These days, if you’re using the Internet in any capacity, chances are that most of your multimedia content is coming from at least one CDN network - they’re everywhere and the modern Internet as we know if today wouldn’t be possible without them. However, it turns out that even CDNs come short for certain categories of modern apps...
With modern consumer hardware and new product categories popping up every day, reducing latencies and increasing network capacity is paramount. It turns out that the Edge computing paradigm can help significantly in that regard.
While CDNs are located at enterprise-grade datacenters “out there somewhere”, edge computing nodes are much closer, literally. With the expansion of metropolitan areas, edge compute nodes often reside in facilities in densely populated areas, typically in big cities, therefore dramatically reducing latencies in a way traditional CDNs never could.
Another difference is that edge computing nodes can be built with serious storage and processing power capabilities. With the rapid global expansion of 5G networks, IoT devices, and augmented reality solutions, edge computing can play a key role in making it all possible.
Edge computing is enabling new solutions that just weren’t possible before. Take, for example, cloud gaming - you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars into a high-end gaming rig, you sign up for a cloud gaming service and the gameplay is streamed to your existing PC or laptop over the network with network delays that are imperceptible. No more periodic upgrade expenses, driver troubleshooting, and compatibility issues and gaming subscriptions!
With the improved computing capabilities, edge computing solutions can enable a whole new range of innovative services that require lots of computational power, such as real-time transportation routing, augmented and virtual reality conferencing, artificial intelligence enhancements and so much more.
Embracing edge computing doesn’t mean you need to ditch your existing CDN setup - quite the contrary! In the new world, CDNs still have their place. Edge computing nodes excel at collecting and processing the data on the edge, but sometimes, power or connectivity constraints can be an issue. In that case, CDN edge locations can act as collection points and therefore offload the processing and caching burden from the edge nodes.
With the edge computing still being a somewhat new concept, we’re really just getting started. The future awaits!
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