What is edge computing, and why does it matter to you?

The words "intelligent edge" or "edge computing" sound, well, cutting-edge and may evoke a feeling of pushing the technological envelope even for those who don't know what the terms mean. At the core of edge computing is connectivity to the cloud versus computing from an unconnected PC, as was common twenty or more years ago.

The concept itself is not all that new, but advances in the cloud, PC and mobile processors, artificial intelligence (A.I.) and LTE and 5G cellular networks are pushing the boundaries of connected computing into new territory. With the advent and proliferation of internet of things (IoT) devices, connected augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences, wearable tech, smart homes, connected cars, smart speakers, smartphones, A.I., always connected PCs, and more edge computing is both pervasive and far-reaching.


This diversity of connected devices is bringing creative innovation and even greater potential to the always-connected nature of the edge. Still, what exactly is the intelligent edge and what does it mean for you?

To understand the intelligent edge we must first understand, at least in basic terms, the intelligent cloud; because the intelligent edge is a component of, or "the edge" of the intelligent cloud. When most people think of the cloud they visualize an abstract, perhaps ephemeral place beyond their devices where their pictures and documents go, where complex data processing occurs or where multiplayer game streaming experiences happen.

Most people probably don't visualize the actual physical reality of thousands of acres of data centers, miles away, that host thousands of servers that contain their pictures and documents, power their games and processes massive amounts of data that is streamed back to connected business and personal devices. Simply put, the cloud is comprised of physical computer hardware that is connected to tangible cellular networks that connect to enterprise or personal devices closest to the user – or the intelligent edge.

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