big data


By Susan Hoffman
Contributor, InCyberDefense

Data generation and processing have become inextricably intertwined with our lives. Every time we conduct an online transaction at an e-commerce business or talk with customer service, for example, data is generated and tracked by specialized software.

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Later, that same data is commonly processed by cloud-based servers in a warehouse. Business intelligence analysts then use that data to understand customer trends, obtain information to improve the customer experience and help business leaders to make data-driven decisions.

But businesses commonly deal with large amounts of data, especially in view of the fact that mobile device usage is continually growing. Cloud servers become overloaded with the storage and processing of all this data, which decreases network efficiency.

According to Jon Markman of Forbes, “It’s far more efficient and practical to process data where it is collected. This is called ‘edge computing.’ Data gets processed as close to the source as possible – the edge of the network – instead of in a massive, centralized data-storage warehouse.”

How Does Edge Computing Work?

Edge computing works by shifting data processing away from busy servers and back to the “edge” of a computer network. In some mobile devices, Markman notes, special chips have been installed to handle data.

For example, mobile devices such as iPhones contain chips that “keep authentication data on the device and off Apple servers. It’s a big privacy bonus.” Likewise, Google’s Pixel phones have “chips that process image data directly on the device. The result is faster processing and the best photos from any smartphone.”

Pros and Cons

NexGenT notes that this technology has both pros and cons. The advantages include easier data filtration, scalability, improved network efficiency, the ability to use edge computing for multiple purposes, and better real-time access to data.

Disadvantages include a greater vulnerability to malicious attacks, an increased risk of human error, and greater costs for installing and using edge computing software in devices such as smartphones.

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The Future of Edge Computing

Anne Taylor of Network World notes that edge computing is likely to affect many different industries in the future. She says that early adopters have been manufacturers, retailers and healthcare organizations. Other potential applications include agriculture, energy, financial services and logistics.

Edge computing could even have a future in education. After all, people will need to learn how to design edge computing products and how to apply those products to their own industries and organizations.

Automation, big data, robotics and artificial intelligence are coming on fast and profoundly changing the way we live. Jobs in many industries are being altered, reduced, and in some cases, wiped out by a march in technology.