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Edge Computing

What is Edge Computing

For the past few years, the explosion of Big Data, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT) has dominated the computer landscape.  Virtually every industry has been impacted by one or more of these computing advances.  In fact, using the cloud is what has enabled both Big Data and IoT to survive and flourish.  These three components of technology have allowed industries to collect and analyze data in ways never before imagined.

However, there are some drawbacks with having this much information stored in the cloud or processed through huge data centers with limited access.  Three main concerns are fueling a drive for solutions that are closer to the source of the data: privacy, accessibility, and cost.  Edge Computing is the term coined to address these three issues, and others, by bringing much of the data collected closer to those who need access to it.

Enterprise desires for micro and edge computing is one of the top 10 trends affecting the industry, according to analysts from Gartner, with organizations increasingly looking to place data center resources closer to users.

Why is Edge Computing Important

Let’s address the three main concerns pushing industries towards Edge Computing.  Privacy is a huge issue.  Most of us have had some of our personal information “shared” without our consent through data breaches, hackers, or other means.  While Edge Computing won’t totally eliminate this possibility, having a way to store private or personal information away from the cloud will reduce the chance of our information getting into the wrong hands.

Data centers can crunch huge amounts of data in a short amount of time.  But getting access to that data can be costly, time consuming, and for many, impossible.  Edge Computing can level the playing field for small to medium sized businesses or industries, giving them access to the data they need in right at their fingertips and at a price they can afford.

Cost is another major concern.  Most small and medium sized business can’t afford even a small data center, with initial costs starting in the $100,000 range and going up.  This doesn’t include the costs of the building, electricity, maintenance, software, or 24/7 staffing.  A micro data center doesn’t require a separate building, with some systems the electric cost is about the same as a laptop and your regular personnel can be used to monitor the system with a bit of training.  Many of the programs available for micro data centers are open source.

We live in a world that wants information, and we want it now!  Edge Computing can fill that need.  Businesses want to offer new products, discounts, or add-ons before customers leave the store.  Medical practices need instant access to diagnoses, medications, and other health information before making recommendations that could potentially cause interactions or a missed diagnosis.  Industries want to develop and test ideas quickly, not only to move products to market sooner, but to reduce the chance of ideas being leaked before they are ready to implement them. 

ABI Research refers to this trend as a paradigm shift from the connected device paradigm to the intelligent device paradigm. Peter Levine of capital venture firm Andreesen Horowitz, said it is important for the enterprise to understand that the edge represents not only a new layer of infrastructure, but a new way of computing.


“I think it’s a very interesting time because we really believe micro data centers are very much an emerging technology.  It’s at the beginning of a trend and its part of the large context of edge computing… it’s going to be closer to a fiber loop that’s closer to the edge of where the compute is happening,” said Kevin Brown, Senior Vice President Innovation & CTO at Schneider Electric.

How Can PicoCluster Help

PicoCluster is the largest supplier of single board computer (SBC) micro data centers in the world.  These micro data centers are small enough they can sit on your desk.  In fact, many take up less room that a laptop.  Yet they are capable of running almost every Big Data program out there: Docker, Docker Swarm, Kubernetes, SQL, NoSQL, Hadoop, and others.  But that’s not all.  They are inexpensive, expandable, and use very little electricity. 

PicoCluster’s come in many different sizes and configurations.  You can choose the SBC’s used in your cluster based on your needs.  We can cluster as few as 3 SBC’s to as many as 48 all in one case.  If that’s not enough, you can cluster cubes together to increase the size of your micro data center.  We can work with you to build custom clusters that meet your exact specifications.

A PicoCluster can also be used for many IoT uses.  Want to create a home theater, home automation, or security system?  All are easy to do with a PicoCluster. 

Users are finding many different uses for their PicoClusters as Edge Computing becomes more main stream.  Major corporations use them for development, testing, or to keep certain data more private.  Medium and small businesses use them so they can keep their data “in house” without huge expenses.  Some industries are using PicoClusters to keep data private, for personalized solutions for their customers, for robotics programs, to create 3D photographs, or just as a way to learn Big Data programs in a real clustered environment. 

So what is holding you back?  Join the Edge Computing trend today!

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