Linux a key player in the edge computing revolution

By | August 23, 2019

In the last few decades, border computing has been revolutionizing how some very recognizable services are given to individuals just like me and you, in addition to the services are handled within major businesses. Try to get your arms around what border computing is now, and you might just find that your arms aren’t nearly as long or as flexible as you’d envisioned. And Linux is playing a major part within this ever-expanding border.

One reason why edge computing defies easy definition is that it takes many different forms. As Jaromir Coufal, principal product manager at Red Hat, recently pointed me out , there isn’t any single edge. Rather, there are plenty of edges — depending on which compute features are needed. He suggests that we can think of the advantage as something of a continuum of capacities with the problem being solved deciding where along that particular continuum any border solution will break.

Some forms of edge computing comprise consumer electronics which are used and installed in millions of homes, others that serve tens of thousands of small companies with operating their centers, and others that connect big businesses to their remote sites. Crucial for the evasive definition is the thought that edge computing always entails distributing the workload in such a way in which the bulk of the computing work is done remotely from the central core of the business and close to the business problem being addressed.

Done properly, edge computing can offer services that are both faster and much more reliable. Software running on the edge can be more resilient and run substantially faster because their mandatory data tools are local. Additionally, data can be processed or examined locally, frequently requiring only periodic transfer of results to principal sites.

While physical security may be lower in the edge, edge devices often implement security features that allow them to find 1) manipulation of the apparatus, 2) malicious applications, and 3) a physical violation and wipe information.

Advantages of edge computing

A Few of the benefits of edge computing include:

A Fast answer to intrusion detection, including the ability for a remote device to detach or self-destruct
The ability to immediately stop communication when required
Constrained performance and fewer universal entrance points
Rugged and reliable difficulty resistance
Creating the overall computing process harder to attack because computing is distributed
Less data-in-transit vulnerability
Some examples of edge computing devices include those that provide:

Video surveillance — watching for activity, reporting only if seen
Controlling autonomous vehicles
Manufacturing tracking and control
Edge computing success story: Chick-fil-A

One impressive example of exceptionally successful border computing caught me by surprise. It turns out Chick-fil-A uses edge computing devices that will help handle its food preparation services. In Chick-fil-A, edge devices:

Examine a fryer’s cleaning and cooking
Aggregate data as a failsafe if net connectivity is missing
Assist with decision-making about cooking — how much and how long to cook
Enhance business operations
Assist automate the complex food ingestion and holding decisions so that even newbies get things right
Function Even If the connection with the central site is down
Since Coufal pointed out, Chick-fil-A runs Kubernetes in the border in each of its restaurants. Their key motivators are low-latency, scale of operations, and continuous business. And it appears to be working really well.

Chick-fil-A’s hypothesis catches it all: By making smarter kitchen gear, we can collect more data. By applying data to our restaurant, we can build smarter systems. By building more intelligent systems, we can better scale our business.

Are you currently edge-ready?

There is no quick answer as to whether your company is”edge ready.” Many things determine what kind of services may be set up on the border and if and when those services need to communicate with more central devices. Some of them include:

Whether your workload can be distributed
If it is OK for apparatus to have infrequent contact with the fundamental services
If apparatus can operate properly when cut off from their connection back to fundamental solutions
Whether the devices can be secured (e.g., trusted to not provide an entry point)
Implementing a border computing network will probably take quite a while from initial planning to implementation. Still, this kind of technology is taking hold and offers some strong benefits. While edge computing originally took hold 15 or more years past, the last few years have seen renewed interest thanks to technology improvements that have enabled new uses.

Coufal noted that it’s been 15 or more years since edge computing concepts and technology were introduced, but revived interest has come about due to tech advances enabling new uses that require this technology.