Prior to the advent of the personal computer, all IT systems were centralized. But once the PC entered the picture, systems architecture became a balancing act. There are great advantages to moving certain types of processing as close to the user or sensor. But architectures were limited by
compute performance of the distributed device,
available storage (short-term and long-term) on the device,
ability to connect back to the central system
connection speeds back to a central system, and
Over the past few years, we have seen incredible gains in the performance of devices that sit at the edge. We have better hardware including a new generation of custom chip designs to enable machine learning and localize computer vision at the edge. There is an ever growing variety of device and sensors.
Thanks to improvements in flash memory storage, enormous amounts of data can be stored at the edge. BI Intelligence predicts that there will be 5.6 billion business-owned devices in use by 2020.
But at the same time, there are functions, such as data analytics and long-term storage that need to be centralized. Certain AI applications need huge data sets to learn from. The amount of data that could be moved to the data center was limited by network connectivity and bandwidth.
In late 2018, the first test-bed 5G cellular networks came on-line – and 5G changes everything.
4G Networks 5G Networks
Download 20 Mbps 10-50-Gbps (average)
Latency 10ms 1ms
To put this in perspective, you could download an entire feature-length HD movie in 10 seconds.
Research analysts are expecting the arrival of 5G to fuel exceptional growth in the Edge Computed. CCS Insights predicts that there will be over 340m 5G connections by 2021. That is from ZERO in 2018.
A recent report by Research and Markets predicts that the global edge computing market will reach $8.96 USD by 2023. The is a CAGR of 32.6%. The expected growth rate in Asia is even higher.
We believe that all companies should pause and look at their systems architecture. What would you change if you had 100x the bandwidth available compared to today?
The winning solution of the early 2020’s will be architected assuming 5G is available everywhere.