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Tech Today: Edge of Network Computing & Data Centers

Bowling Green, KY. (August 8, 2018) - It’s 2018 and somehow, without most of us really paying attention, we’re actually living in a Jetsons world. No we don’t have flying cars, yet, and our digital assistants aren’t quite as helpful as Rosie the maid, but we’ve got a lot going on around us, and new and exciting changes are happening all the time. These innovations are creating data, and lots of it. The cars we drive, the watches we wear, our refrigerators, roads, stop lights, shoes, on and on, are constantly gathering, sending, and receiving information to make our lives easier, more productive, and seamless.

Enter Edge of Network Computing and Data Centers (Edge), the next step beyond pure Cloud technologies, that helps distribute where, when, and how data is processed, managed, and stored. Edge technology brings resources, computing, and data closer to the end user or end user devices, while maximizing and making the most of the power of the network and available resources.

Whereas in the past several years we’ve been moving away from desktop processing and moving things to the cloud. Edge places critical resources, and processing power much closer, so that time sensitive data can be processed, stored and retrieved in very short amounts of time. This has really only begun to be possible in the past few years as new network technologies, with the capability to transmit data at ultra high speeds and low latency have begun to be deployed. With the advent of widespread fiber deployment, and now as we look to the deployment of 5G technologies, the capability for our networks to keep up with our technology and the vast amounts of data we create and use is a reality.

Cloud technology was focused on taking resources to large centralized data centers that would allow for anyone anywhere to gain access to their data anytime, as opposed to having to be “on the network” to gain access to services and data. This has changed the way people work, and the types of services that are available to consumers and businesses alike, and has forever changed the way that people interact with and secure data. Enabled by new networks, and technology, Edge essentially routes data, processes, and services to the best, most efficient, network resource to accomplish the needed task. Edge data centers, will house processing and data storage for mission critical, low latency, resources, while the “cloud” is still where backups, and big data analysis, non-time sensitive computing will take place.

Kerr Wes 02 Best 683x1024 Headroom 200x300 Director, Community Solutions, Wes Kerr

In a world that continues to press on towards self-driving vehicles, having the data from those connected devices to make quality split-second decisions is a life or death situation. It’s simply not acceptable to think that a vehicle would have to wait even a second to decide if it should brake and stop, when an object enters the roadway. It is however acceptable for the data being collected by the car’s diagnostic sensors to be sent off much further to determine when the optimal maintenance interval is. We’ve entered an age where sub-millisecond responses are becoming a common timeframe and distances, even on ultra-high speed networks add time to respond. By moving resources physically closer to the end user, critical information and decisions can be made in time frames most people can’t conceptualize, but are absolutely necessary for acceptable performance in applications that impact human lives.

So what?

Mission critical Edge data centers are already being developed to ensure that as the networks, that are already in existence and being deployed in the near future, can begin to bring this next level of computing and data management to fruition. We’ll read more stories about Edge applications that seemed like science fiction even 5 years ago being deployed and used for real world applications.  Augmented and Virtual Reality will likely begin to have a much greater use case as the necessary processing power is moved closer to the consumer and allowing for real time sensor data processing to make these technologies more useful. Industries like automotive, manufacturing, medical, and agriculture will likely be impacted.

Let’s not forget all of those connected devices that we’re living with now either. Combined data from these devices and Edge computing will continue to change our lives, and maybe it will make Rosie the maid, a greater reality.

About the Author: Wes Kerr is the Director of Community Solutions for Connected Nation. Wes helps ensure the implementation of Technology Action Plans developed for communities through Connected Nation’s Connected Community Engagement Program (Connectedsm) and works closely with clients and stakeholders to provide solutions that will help them meet their technology goals.