Edge Computing Frameworks Abound—with None Yet Dominant
Edge computing architecture has become central to a variety of computing tasks. Edge provides lower latency and enables data-rich experiences, but at the same time, edge interoperability and standardization are key issues. To date, devices and apps on the edge enlist a variety of protocols and interfaces, which has perpetuated a Wild West at the edge.
Edge architecture, which brings compute resources closer to the data and devices that need them, has been touted as a key paradigm beyond cloud computing. Some digital experiences require the lower latency that edge architecture can provide. At the same time, edge architecture lacks standards and common interfaces, which creates problems for devices and applications that need to interact with one another.
Efforts are under way to develop standards, interfaces, code and components that can exploit the potential of edge computing. Unfortunately, for those looking for ready-made solutions to exploit Internet of Things (IoT) devices and edge applications, it’s not clear what will work together. As a result, edge computing frameworks are plentiful—but none is the market leader yet.
Many vendors are eager to write the rules of the road for edge, as it is touted as the next big phase of computing. In just a few short years, the edge market is valued in billions of dollars (estimates for 2024 range from $9 billion to more than $28 billion.)
Further, McKinsey & Co. has identified 107 “concrete use cases” to validate its estimate that edge hardware value could reach $215 billion by 2025. Many of the anticipated applications can’t rely on the compute resources in the cloud or corporate data centers due to latency issues.
Various groups have sponsored open edge projects to standardize key aspects of the technology and provide frameworks that will simplify edge computing integration efforts. Some even offer ready-to-use software that vendors can incorporate into their products and services. Many of these projects reflect years of development work, but to corporate planners they can look like a confusing and perhaps conflicting set of frameworks.
“These efforts have some overlap, but [there are] also areas where they are complementary,” said Jim Davis, founder and principal analyst with research and advisory firm Edge Research Group. “Enterprises still either need to bring these components together or rely on vendors and integrators to help them.”
Edge open source projects embrace multiple types of implementations. These frameworks include (1) the fog computing concept of bringing cloud resources to the edge across a decentralized computing infrastructure of heterogeneous nodes; (2) Mobile/Multi-Access Computing (MEC) that incorporates wireless LTE and next-generation radio access networks into edge architectures; (3) and cloudlet computing that enables a “data center in a box” to provide resource-intensive computing capabilities at the edge, including central office mobile telecom.