Rittal Blog

When Edge Computing Is NOT the Answer

October 21 2021 by Herb Villa


Since its introduction late last century (Akamai Technologies launched its content delivery network in 1998), Edge computing’s benefits – reduced data latency being primary among them – have made a huge impact on the data world.

Technology leaders in nearly every industry have been scrambling since then to deploy their own Edge solutions, hoping to capitalize on the promise of greater speed, deeper insights, and better decision making. And all this has, in fact, been happening, spurring more and more companies to jump on the Edge bandwagon.

But is Edge computing the right approach for everyone? Or has all the hype led to some “misuse” of the technology?

There’s no disputing that trends in Edge computing are bringing benefits to industries like manufacturing, energy, agriculture, transportation, and retail. Yet, for all the promises and capabilities, Edge computing is being deployed in situations that may not or do not necessarily benefit from Edge capabilities. Here are some of the more common ones:

When latency isn’t an issue. Edge computing solves the problem of latency by bringing data processing right to the edge of the network, bypassing the slowdowns caused when transmitting information from the device across the network to a centralized computing system. If your data is time-sensitive – if you regularly need it now – then Edge may be the answer, but if immediacy isn’t required, then the cloud will provide everything you need (and save you money). 

A video camera system is one such example. Surveillance systems generate massive amounts of data, but processing and storing it at the Edge isn’t usually necessary or practical, since doing so would require a very large, specialized infrastructure. The better and less costly option is to store the data in the cloud, where it can be easily accessed if and when needed.

When bandwidth and connectivity are not an issue. Together with latency, bandwidth and connectivity can also be improved at The Edge. Edge networks are almost always recommended in remote locations, where there is limited or no connectivity to a centralized location, such as on an oil rig or windmill farm. These situations require local storage, and an Edge deployment is the ideal solution. But if bandwidth is unconstrained and connectivity reliable, you won’t gain much, if any, benefit by bringing computing to the Edge.

When you believe you should avoid the cloud. Because it’s kept close, Edge data must be easier to secure than when it’s in the cloud, right? Not necessarily. If your #1 goal with Edge is simply to avoid putting that data in the cloud because you believe it’s vulnerable up there, Edge may not be needed. Not only is it less expensive to secure data in the cloud (compared to most Edge systems), but the more Edge computing you’re doing, the more distributed your data is, making it more challenging to protect against possible breaches. Cyberhackers can find Edge systems just as easily as any other – being on premise in your facility doesn’t minimize the likelihood of an attack. 

Furthermore, each point in the Edge network must be visible to and monitored by the enterprise, and properly secured based on a standard security policy. If you have several Edge deployments, it becomes more difficult to protect all the equipment, since not all will have the same security capabilities.

When the cost/benefit ratio is not favorable. Some organizations are eager to take advantage of the reduced bandwidth requirements that Edge computing enables, as it represents a reduced overhead cost. But often the costs of an Edge deployment offset that savings. An Edge network will require that you purchase and set up the system, and execute ongoing maintenance and upgrades. If you have several Edge deployments, the cost can be significant. 

Before you make a decision about an Edge deployment, make sure you’re choosing it solve), and the real potential value it will deliver. Not sure? Talk to the experts. The team at Rittal has valuable insights that will lead you to the right solution for your individual needs.

Learn more about the Edge by watching our video,Where Is the Edge?

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Categories: Data Center Solutions, Edge Computing

Herb Villa

Written by Herb Villa

Rittal Sr. Applications Engineer