As the physical world grows ever more digitized with data emanating from billions of devices and sensors, demands for performance, reliability, and security are pushing much more compute ‘to the edge’ where real-time processing and coordination are vital. Cloud computing and centralized data processing may be the predominant architectural paradigm of today, but there is a reason the world’s largest cloud companies are heavily investing in the edge.
It’s not just a Computing Shift, it’s an Economic Shift
Shifting to more distributed (including hybrid) computing architectures will impact business models, not only of cloud service providers, but millions of business adopters across every industry. Companies today generate about 10% of their data outside a traditional data center or cloud, but Gartner expects that number will increase to 75% within just five years. Compounding this demand is the exponential growth in data, as pressures abound to actually use these data, both in real-time, and for longer-term strategic decision-making.
Our analysis finds financial benefits of this shift start deep in the stack but will spread far beyond.
Shifting Economics Shifts the Calculus of Customer Experience
Arguably more interesting than financial benefits alone, is how they could shift deeply ingrained business practices. Take for example, the standard practice of sending personal data to the cloud, which most companies do to extract personalizable insights via (computationally intensive) analysis and machine learning. The resulting ‘honeypots’ of these sensitive data have exacerbated the privacy crisis, increased PII data breaches, never mind consumer concerns, or compliance with GDPR.
Consider the win-win when edge-level intelligence manages the ability to extract insight for personalization while avoiding vulnerability of a centralized cloud repository. Consumers’ personal data remains more secure without sacrificing functionality, and businesses can continue to deliver personalization, while reducing associated risks, latency, costs. This same shifting calculus applies in other areas too, such as sharing compute with external entities, contributing to data marketplaces, or configuring compliance into device performance.
The Real Disruption is About Shifting Governance to the Edge
Who controls or accesses what, when, how, and based on what parameters, are questions traditionally decided centrally, as devices and physical infrastructure have historically been incapable of such programming. But as we push intelligence outwards, value chains will shift.