Much of the usual conversations around connectivity center on 5G. Whether for homes, cities, vehicles, retail, or health and wellness, the fifth generation of connectivity promises to unlock unlimited potential for the tens of billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices currently in use, as well as for those who wait to emerge. But there is another conversation centered on the “edge”, which has taken place at least since the 1990s, when Akamai launched its content distribution network (CDN). The Akamai story is worth sharing because it provides historical context for why the lead was conceived.
The Akamai story
While teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in early 1995, the inventor of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee He anticipated the congestion that would eventually follow as more people had access to computers and the Internet. He challenged his colleagues at MIT to come up with an advanced method for delivering content such as images and videos. One team began developing mathematical algorithms that could “intelligently route and replicate content across a large network of distributed servers” geographically located closer to end users. The result was Akamai, which many companies around the world now rely on to distribute content.
If Berners-Lee and his colleagues at MIT who founded Akamai showed that the edge doesn’t need 5G, but 5G needs the edge. This is why: As network operators and operators continue to build public and private 5G networks and deploy millions of sensors that will connect wirelessly with IoT devices, the advantage will be essential to enable these networks of people and devices to share data faster and communicate in real time. It will also be essential to enable the next generation of applications and services for consumers and businesses. These are largely native to the edge.
Developed at a lower cost and faster to deploy, these native edge applications rely on the edge computing architecture to ensure high-speed, low-latency, mobile performance, as well as privacy and security. That’s especially important for businesses when considering the millions of employees working from home during this global pandemic. IDC predicts that by 2022 more than 40 percent of enterprise cloud deployments will include edge computing.
Using The Edge
According to Marketing immersion, smartphone mobile data consumption increased by 75% in March 2020 compared to March 2019 as a result of people using their mobile devices during blocking of social media, video conferencing and streaming. In fact, video content accounted for more than 70% of mobile data traffic. WITH CABLE reported that among the world’s 2.5 billion active and professional esports gamers, the majority now play from a mobile device. With that tremendous demand for cloud storage and bandwidth expected to increase, the edge has become even more important to the conversation about connectivity.
The use cases are compelling across industries, from smart cities, smart homes and connected vehicles to telemedicine and industrial IoT, where real-time monitoring of assets at the edge can reduce operating costs, risks to workers and The inactivity time. Cities around the world are currently in experimental stages or have already deployed millions of sensors to collect data to improve traffic flow, pedestrian safety, the environment, and overall quality of life. By uploading information to a nearby data center rather than a centralized one hundreds of miles away, city leaders are armed with the kind of real-time information that drives better, more profitable decision making.
In essence, the design, implementation and management of an IoT solution depends on the perimeter, which prioritizes the “first mile” rather than the last mile. In the world of internet connectivity, bridging the last mile generally means connecting the cable from the curb to the customer’s premises. This makes a final connection to send data and content from the central server to the edge. In the world of IoT, however, that logic must be reversed. IoT starts with the edge and the data generated at the edge. Data is only valuable when it can be consumed by a business or consumer closer to where it was created.
Particularly from a privacy and security perspective, edge computing will be essential for 5G, as COVID ushers not only the reality of more distributed teams and organizations, but also consumer demands for enhanced digital experiences.
There is no doubt that the advantage will allow 5G to fulfill its promise of opening new doors and experiences, particularly for people who would not otherwise have access to such experiences. CES® 2021 is a great example. There is no irony in the fact that the world stage for innovation was set in a virtual environment this year. In an opening segment from the Verizon CEO, attendees learned how quickly the future is approaching.
In fact, it is closer than we think due to the global pandemic and the technologies invented to support a connected world. Getting those technologies, including sensors, devices, cell phone towers, and local data centers, to communicate in real time is the challenge. With state-of-the-art technology, the solution is closer than we think.