When I was a kid I spent a considerable amount of time lying on my back in the grass cloud watching as clouds of all sizes and shapes floated by high up in the sky. Hollywood actress and legend Judy Garland is quoted as saying, “Behind Every Cloud is Another Cloud.” In the 21st century today cloud computing offers a plethora of cloud choices and yes, we would certainly agree that behind every cloud is another cloud to consider.
Cloud computing certainly has its niche, but just like real clouds, cloud computing is a good distance from the data center on the ground. IoT devices and sensors are close to the ground just like fog and require a different type of computing power dictating that data is kept much closer to the ground. This is where edge, or fog computing can be leveraged as data is created, processed, and acted upon real-time instantaneously literally at the edge outside of the data center. Gartner estimates that there will be 25.1 billion IoT endpoints by 2021. According to Gartner, “Much of the current attention on edge computing comes from the need for IoT systems to deliver disconnected or distributed capabilities to the IoT world.” Factors driving the momentum to move toward edge computing include latency and content. Users expect fast response times and content such as video is too voluminous to send to the cloud and store in the cloud. Edge computing addresses these challenges.
Edge computing is being leveraged now in IoT with advancements in connected vehicle technology connecting vehicles to vehicles (V2V), vehicles to infrastructure (V2I) such as stop lights, and vehicles to pedestrians (V2P). Connected vehicle technology will eventually lead to fully autonomous self-driving vehicles. Experts agree that connected and self-driving vehicle technology will significantly reduce the nearly 40,000 annual fatalities occurring in traffic crashes on U.S. roads. High performance computing (HPC) at the edge will make this possible.
A real-life application of this technology has been deployed at the Ohio Turnpike where 241 miles of toll roads and fiber cross through Northern Ohio from Indiana to Pennsylvania.