Edge Computing: Redefining Cloud Infrastructure for a Decentralized World

Paul Korzeniowski · Feb 13, 2024 · 6 minute read

Edge computing

While the cloud has put almost unlimited processing power at our fingertips, it’s not always necessary to upload your data from point A to cloud B and back again. Edge computing is helping to unlock the full power of the cloud. It’s like having a mini data center right next to your users, crunching numbers, and handling requests at lightning speed. 

What is Edge Computing?

Edge computing is the practice of extracting intelligence from the data’s source where it is generated, before sending it to a database in the cloud. Computer processing usually occurs in one of two places: large corporate data centers or end-user systems like laptops, desktops, and smartphones. Somewhere between the two lies edge computing. This involves processing and analyzing your data at the “edge” of the network, such as in IoT devices, security cameras, and user devices like your smartwatch. This information design is fueling a new generation of solutions that empowers organizations with actionable, real-time data.

Prior to edge computing, companies had two infrastructure design choices:

1. Send data to the central server, which was built to process large chunks of information.

2. Keep it local to do simple processing.

But in some cases, these options aren’t able to sufficiently provide employees, customers, and partners with access to real-time information. Local systems may lack the necessary processing power, and sending data to central cloud systems isn’t always practical. 

Edge computing solves the dilemma by bringing intelligence closer to the data generation source. There, data is collected, correlated, analyzed, delivered, and acted upon immediately. Real-time information becomes more accessible. Though in its infancy, edge computing is expected to grow exponentially. The global edge computing market size was valued at over $16 billion in 2023 and is expected to grow at a rate of 37.9% until 2030, according to Grand View Research.

Will Edge Computing Replace the Cloud?

On the contrary, edge computing works together with the cloud to provide flexible solutions, whatever your data collection and analysis needs. For real-time, on-the-spot computations, like traffic data from a highway camera, the edge model is ideal. Uploading larger amounts of data to the cloud provides a centralized location for large-scale analytics. Together, they offer comprehensive insights into performance and power initiatives such as asset performance management and machine learning use cases.

Why are Companies so Interested in the Edge?

Edge computing works well with intelligent, machine-to-machine interactions. It typically relies on Internet of Things (IoT) devices. These small, powerful hardware systems move information via the Internet Protocol. This setup provides many benefits that lower data processing footprints. Here are a few of the reasons edge computing has become a transformative trend in cloud architecture:

Access Real-Time Data

Most organizations are drowning in a sea of data, much of it stale and irrelevant. While they diligently collect information like daily product arrivals, the ability to glean actionable insights and react in real time remains elusive. 

Enter edge computing. By decentralizing processing and consolidating data points locally, edge platforms act as intelligent gateways, feeding only the most relevant information to the cloud. This not only reduces the processing burden on central servers but also unlocks transformative use cases impossible with traditional approaches.

In healthcare, for instance, edge applications can empower real-time patient monitoring. Vital signs are analyzed locally, triggering immediate alerts and facilitating faster responses to critical events. This not only enhances patient care but also optimizes resource allocation for healthcare providers.

Reduce Bandwidth Needs

With IoT, special-purpose computer systems collect and process information about a wide and growing number of items. They perform tasks like monitoring the movement and delivery of a shipment of the latest headphones as they travel from the production line to the customer’s home.

Traditionally, such information was shipped to central servers only periodically. Sending information from any device 24 hours a day, 7 days a week dramatically increases bandwidth usage. Eventually, corporations must buy more network capacity to support the application.

Edge offers them another option. Rather than ship information to the central server, IoT devices perform analysis locally. For instance, surveillance cameras monitor a retail store parking lot. The edge system is smart enough to separate routine interactions from possible problems like break-ins. They send the aberrations to the security team for further inspection and follow-up. Because less traffic travels to the central cloud server, there is no need for additional bandwidth.

Reach Remote Locations

Edge computing makes it easier to utilize data collected at remote sites where Internet connectivity is intermittent, or network bandwidth is limited. For example, shipping vessel engine performance information is collected and relayed to a central server. As a result, any needed repairs are done when the ship docks. 

Improve Data Security

With edge, sensitive data doesn’t have to be sent to cloud servers, where it may be exposed to cyberattacks or interception. By processing data locally, edge devices ensure that sensitive data or private information like personal medical records remains within the local network.

Lower Latency

A key primary motivation for edge computing is to reduce network delays or latency. Moving the processing closer to where the information is generated means it travels less, completes its journey faster, and provides companies with more responsive networks. Such features are important in transactions that need quick turnaround, like those used for fintech applications.

Adhere to Privacy Rules

When gathering, processing, storing, and otherwise using customer data, organizations must adhere to data privacy regulations. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act are two that have a number of stipulations about how data is handled. Edge enables companies to alter the distance that information travels before it is processed, as well as put special security checks in place to ensure it is not susceptible to outside interference.

Reduced IT Footprint and Costs

Edge computing enables businesses to get the most out of their IT expenditures. They can process information on the most appropriate platform, small or large. They also eliminate the overhead that comes with shipping data across the enterprise network unnecessarily. Edge reduces central cloud storage costs by lowering the volume of information stored centrally.

Enhance Reliability

Traditional cloud architectures struggle with network resilience. Centralized processing makes duplicating infrastructure complex and expensive. Edge computing offers a solution. Because data processing happens closer to its source there are multiple points of redundancy, making outages less disruptive. Additionally, businesses can gradually add edge devices, building resilience incrementally and cost-effectively, compared to replicating entire cloud systems.

Increase Energy Efficiency

Edge can help organizations manage energy efficiently and reduce power consumption. As more data is processed on the edge, less moves to and from the cloud, thus decreasing data energy requirements.


With edge computing, organizations scale their compute and storage resources dynamically, based on their needs. They can add resources in different places and find the configurations that make the most sense and offer the best performance.


Edge computing is quickly becoming a popular paradigm. This architecture allows enterprises to move processing power closer to the data source, reducing data center footprint, providing users with real-time data, and enhancing security.

Paul Korzeniowski
Paul Korzeniowski

Paul Korzeniowski is a B2B content producer, market analyst and leading voice in the high tech community. He has dissected technology and business issues for more than two decades. Paul served on the staffs of Computerworld, Network World, and Internet Week. He has written for leading suppliers like Microsoft, Intel, and VMware, and startups like Bedrock Systems and Launchables. His work has appeared in numerous business publications, including Fortune, LinkedIn, Entrepreneur, Investors Business Daily, and InformationWeek.