2019 saw edge computing begin to emerge from its hype cycle as tech giants and leading enterprises, alike, began forming and publicly announcing their edge strategies. As we look ahead to 2020 and the coming decade, the future of edge computing looks bright. Here, we reflect some of the key developments in 2019 contributing to increased momentum at the edge.
Leading research firms continue to increase edge computing’s rank among top trending transformational technologies
Edge computing maintains a top-of-mind presence in industry reports and technology trend lists from research firms including Gartner, Forrester, and IDC, to name a few. While many cite IoT as the driving force behind edge computing adoption, analysts are beginning to emphasize the broader and nearer-term use cases for distributing compute power closer to end users. “Edge computing will become a dominant factor across virtually all industries and use cases as the edge is empowered with increasingly more sophisticated and specialized compute resources and more data storage,” said Brian Burke, Research Vice President at Gartner.
Edge computing market projections reach $4 trillion
Projections for the edge computing market have experienced significant gains over the past year. A report from Chetan Sharma Consulting estimates the emerging edge economy to reach $4 trillion by 2030. While the numbers still vary quite dramatically across reports, one constant holds true - many are placing large bets on the potential value of the edge computing market.
Fastly and Cloudflare go public with edge stories
In 2019, Fastly and Cloudflare both IPO-ed. As two technology providers who have emerged out of the content delivery network (CDN) space, both are racing to grab the edge computing market. Alongside CDN industry giant Akamai, these three providers serve much of the Internet’s video and large object traffic. While they jockey for positioning, emerging providers offering pure edge technology are beginning to gain momentum and attention as disruptive forces in the CDN world. (For further reading on the evolution of the CDN market, check out CDNs Were a Prototype for Edge Compute.)
Industry alliances are formed to help advance edge computing adoption
In order to realize its full potential, edge computing will require interoperability and collaboration among a complex network of technologies and players. As such, several organizations have formed to quicken the pace of innovation across a diverse set of disciplines, including (but not limited to):
- LF Edge: An umbrella organization under The Linux Foundation established to create an open framework for edge computing independent of hardware, silicon, cloud, or operating system.
- Kinetic Edge Alliance (KEA): Founded by Vapor IO and made up of members that span software, hardware, networking and integration partners, this industry group seeks to ease edge computing adoption by connecting stakeholders with end users and customers.
- Open Edge Computing Initiative (OEC): A collective effort by member organizations including Intel, Microsoft, Crown Castle, Carnegie Mellon University, and others to drive the convergence of edge computing platforms and services on a global scale.
AWS stakes a firm claim in edge computing infrastructure
At its annual re:Invent conference in December, AWS announced bold product shifts towards distributed cloud computing through Outposts, Local Zone, and Wavelength. For many, these edge-centric infrastructure product launches solidify the importance that edge computing will play in the future of the Internet.
Kubernetes emerges as key technology powering the future of edge computing
Kubernetes has emerged as the clear winner in the container orchestration race, with leading enterprises adopting the foundational technology to manage heterogeneous resources across compute, storage and networking. Furthermore, its flexibility and scalability make Kubernetes a natural fit for the edge, as it allows for developers or DevOps engineers to deploy applications and services in a standardized way at the edge. Edge compute platforms built on Kubernetes are quickly becoming the preferred technology for edge workload management.
Edge computing going mainstream? Walmart develops edge strategy to remain competitive
In its ongoing struggle to compete with Amazon, Walmart is turning to edge computing as a key differentiator. In their recently revealed, forward-looking strategy, Walmart called out their intent to add edge computing to its supercenters, renting out data processing capacity for more localized compute requirements.
Strategic partnerships form between 5G operators and edge computing technology providers
Perhaps the biggest buzz when it comes to edge computing is in the 5G realm. As telecommunications operators fulfill the promise of 5G infrastructure, we’re seeing partnerships form to fill the compute void across this expanding network of towers. Verizon and AWS made waves when they announced their 5G edge computing partnership in December. Similarly, Microsoft and AT&T have partnered up, and Orange and Dell Technologies are combining efforts.
Edge Computing World debuts to gather key players in edge ecosystem
In its first year, Edge Computing World managed to convene a who’s who of industry players in the diverse edge computing ecosystem, perhaps solidifying its place as the preeminent edge event. Over 350 Edge executives, users, and developers from around the world gathered to examine, debate, and showcase use cases, technical solutions, and innovations across the industry. Another key highlight of the event was the inaugural Edge Woman of the Year Award, which was awarded to Farah Papaioannou, Co-Founder and President of Edgeworx.