The Significance of Databases in Edge Computing
Edge computing is a straightforward concept: it’s about bringing computing and storage capabilities closer to the sources of data, such as devices, applications, and users. As 5G infrastructure continues to expand, the demand for edge computing will only grow stronger, especially in today’s hyperconnected world.
The drive for low-latency experiences is on the rise, due to the advancements in technologies like IoT, AI/ML, and AR/VR/MR. Along with reducing latency, bandwidth costs, and network resiliency, data privacy and governance policies also play a crucial role in the shift towards edge computing. Sensitive data cannot be transferred to central cloud servers for processing, which makes edge computing a more viable solution.
Edge computing architecture utilizes bandwidth effectively and reduces the costs of round-trip latency by processing data at the edge, providing users with fast and always-available applications.
Market research forecasts that the global edge computing market will reach $18 billion within the next four years, growing rapidly from a $4 billion market in 2020. The digital transformation of enterprises and the increasing number of IoT devices (Gartner predicts that over 15 billion devices will connect to enterprise infrastructure by 2029) are driving this growth.
For businesses, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve by understanding the current state of edge computing, its future direction, and developing a strategy that is future-proof.
Streamlining the Administration of Distributed Systems
Initially, edge computing deployments were comprised of custom hybrid clouds, with applications and databases operating on on-prem servers that were supported by a cloud backend. The transfer of data between the cloud and on-prem servers was managed by a basic batch file transfer system.
The management of multiple on-prem server installations at scale can pose a significant challenge, both in terms of capital costs (CapEx) and operational costs (OpEx). The batch file transfer system could result in the edge apps and services relying on outdated data. Additionally, there are situations where hosting a server rack on-premise is not feasible, such as on oil rigs, construction sites, or airplanes where there may be limitations in terms of space, power, or cooling.
To address these concerns, the next wave of edge computing deployments should take advantage of managed infrastructure-at-the-edge offerings from cloud providers like AWS Outposts, AWS Local Zones, Azure Private MEC, and Google Distributed Cloud. These cloud-edge locations can host storage and compute on behalf of multiple on-prem locations, reducing infrastructure costs while maintaining low-latency access to data. Edge computing deployments can also leverage the high bandwidth and ultra-low latency capabilities of 5G networks through managed private 5G networks, such as AWS Wavelength.
When it comes to edge computing, which is all about distributing data storage and processing, every strategy must consider the data platform. You’ll need to determine if your database can meet the requirements of your distributed architecture.
Maximizing the Potential of Edge Technologies with a Database Built for the Edge
In a decentralized setup, information management and processing can occur at multiple levels – the central cloud data centers, the cloud-edge nodes, and the client/device tier. This tier can encompass everything from mobile phones and desktop computers to custom hardware. As you move from the cloud to the device, the level of service availability and quick response times increases. By having the database located directly on the device, you ensure the highest level of performance and access, free from the constraints of network connectivity.
An important aspect of distributed databases is maintaining consistency and synchronization of information across these different levels, taking into account network conditions. Synchronization is not about copying data from one place to another, but rather the ability to quickly and efficiently transfer only the most relevant information at scale, even in the face of network disruptions. For example, in the retail industry, only data specific to a particular store needs to be transmitted to that location, while in the healthcare sector, only consolidated and anonymized patient data may need to be sent to a central location.
Managing data in a decentralized system presents unique governance challenges, making it crucial to consider these issues as part of your edge strategy. The data platform should be able to enforce data retention policies right down to the device level.
Revolutionizing Operations with Edge Computing at PepsiCo and BackpackEMR
For many businesses, having a distributed database and seamless data synchronization is the foundation for a successful edge computing implementation.
Take PepsiCo for instance – as a global conglomerate with employees operating in areas with limited or no internet connectivity, the sales team required a solution that would allow them to work effectively and efficiently offline. The company adopted an offline-first database, integrated into the apps used by their sales reps, ensuring that data is always accessible even without internet connectivity. Once an internet connection is established, all data is automatically synced across the edge infrastructure, ensuring data consistency and compliance with security and governance regulations.
BackpackEMR, a healthcare software provider, serves mobile clinics in underprivileged and rural communities worldwide, many of which have limited or no internet access. To overcome this challenge, BackpackEMR integrated an embedded database into their patient-care apps, enabling real-time data sharing through peer-to-peer synchronization, even without internet connectivity.
According to IDC, by 2023, half of all new enterprise IT infrastructure will be at the edge, rather than in central data centers, and this trend will continue to grow with the number of edge apps expected to rise by 800% by 2024. As organizations plan for their next generation of application workloads, it is crucial to consider edge computing as a complement to cloud computing strategies.
Priya Rajagopal, Director of Product Management at Couchbase, a leading provider of modern databases for enterprise applications relied on by 30% of the Fortune 100, offers over 20 years of software development experience and is a co-inventor of 22 technology patents.
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