Edge computing has been huge hot topic in 2019, and it will continue to be one in 2020. Edge computing brings computation and data storage to the network’s edge. When computation and data are kept closer to where the data is being generated, it results in less latency. For applications that depend on low latency, edge computing can be transformational. A new report, the State of the Edge 2020, explores what’s to come in this space in the coming years.

State of Edge is an educational organization that produces free research on edge computing based on industry collaboration. It recently released its latest vendor-neutral research report, suggesting the edge computing infrastructure market will be worth $700 billion by 2028. While the report authors acknowledge that they could have measured the “edge footprint” by measuring the number of racks deployed and predicting how many will be deployed a decade from now, instead, the forecast was based on cumulative CAPEX (capital expenditure) that is predicted to be spent on edge IT infrastructure and data center facilities.

The report refers to the edge as the “Third Act of the Internet.” Act one, the origination phase, refers to the period in which the internet was mostly a network, when the main point of it was to get data from one place to another. Act two, according to State of the Edge, encompassed CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) and regionalization. During this phase, regional data centers brought internet infrastructure closer to users. Edge computing, the report suggests, is part of act three. Because current infrastructure can’t support all the applications users want and need, this phase of internet evolution will optimize networks by bringing resources to the edge.

Various factors are setting edge computing up for massive growth in the coming years. For instance, the industry is increasingly speaking the same language when it comes to the edge. State of the Edge says a lack of a common definition has held the space back, but a common definition of the edge is gaining momentum. To keep the industry moving toward an agreed-upon definition, the 2018 version of the report outlined the following four-part definition: “The edge is a location, not a thing. There are lots of edges, but the edge we care about is the edge of the last-mile network. This edge has two sides: an infrastructure edge and a device edge. Compute will exist on both sides, working in coordination with the centralized cloud.” Other factors include the growing desire for realtime decisionmaking and new storage and security needs.

McKinsey similarly predicts these factors will lead to growth in the edge computing market. The research firm suggests edge computing will represent a value of up to $215 billion in hardware by 2025. Industries with growing edge use cases include retail, logistics, healthcare, smart cities, manufacturing, and AVs (autonomous vehicles), among many others. Edge computing is certainly driving the next generation of smart manufacturing by reducing latency to the point that manufacturers can truly benefit from realtime information about their machines and the products coming off assembly lines.

Hurdles remain for edge computing, but many of those hurdles remain unknown. However, business opportunities are plentiful for those that invest in the edge. State of the Edge suggests “there is no finish line”; rather, edge computing is a marathon of sorts—a long-term transformation of the internet that will take time to come into its final form.

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