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article imageOp-Ed: Edge computing — The new mega-game in tech investment?

By Paul Wallis     Apr 21, 2019 in Technology
Boston - “Edge computing” hasn’t yet quite gone in to the language. It means data from a very disparate range of frontline data sources. It’s The Very Big Deal for the Internet of Things. Now, rather a lot of billions are about to be thrown at it.
Edge computing is based on sourcing information from operational networks like sensors, production lines and other very high data yield sources. The core theory of edge computing is that it’s better to do the number crunching close to the source. The result has effectively been a whole new approach to IT.
The big money projections are based on what’s called “hyperscale”, which is infrastructural scaling to deliver anything from a few basic servers to high data loads using thousands of servers. Edge computing is the working mechanism for efficiently managing these potentially huge data loads in real time.
If you’re thinking “thousands of servers = need for fast local processing = much more efficient”, bingo. Edge computing just happens to be the good working option for managing scale and highly diverse data streams. Hence the predictions of equally huge money coming, fast, into this emerging/semi-hatched range of technologies.
Commercial opportunities
These incoming big bucks aren’t just strolling around the investment casino tables looking for something to do. Edge computing can place good working data management systems anywhere, from your fridge and home gadgets to a vastly extended network, and do it well.
Just about all commercial sectors have a lot to gain from this type of system. If you’ve often considered many business systems a bit clunky, slow, and non-dashboard-friendly, you’re not alone. Add to this the fact that “edge business” data gathering generates a lot of contemporary data, both useful and necessary.
The problems are that this big stream info is invariably very high turnover, and an unmitigated pain to analyze. Using systems not designed to handle or deliver raw data in specific forms, it’s a curse. Some lucky soul has to go get a pick and shovel and figure out how to extract the data. That includes setting up a data collection source, defining informational parameter needs, etc. It’s the bogeyman of Big Data, which is often very hard to manage and use for exactly these reasons.
The other side to this pleasant can-carrying perspective is that the raw data is often also critically important on a continuous basis. It’s bread and butter for both operational and business uses, as well as stats, marketing, and planning.
This is a basic overview where commercial opportunities arise:
• A real need for better data sourcing and computing at the edge.
• Huge commercial potential for dedicated systems and services.
• Edge computing is highly relevant to a very wide range of environments.
• Specialized systems and computing are obvious needs.
• An obvious and growing range of intellectual property developments, many of which will become must-haves in the markets.
• Edge computing is also an obvious form of “extended IoT management”, meaning many commercial uses for edge systems at all levels.
Riding the A.I. wave
Edge computing can work with any sort of A.I., delivering many more efficiencies and further streamlining information management at all levels. This is the natural (and essential) evolutionary path in A.I. for future edge computing, as A.I. systems in their billions come onstream.
A.I. adds another dimension to edge computing, in fact. A.I. learns, adds efficiencies, and delivers high-value feedback. This, in turn, makes edge systems likely to become a lot more efficient, very rapidly.
About those billions of dollars….
Current projections are appropriately based on hard numbers, from equities to business values, and hyperscale is the key. Current revenues are coming from Google, Microsoft, AT&T, China Mobile and other high capital users. A ballpark picture is 20 percent increase in investment per year. A single company, CAPEX, generated $32 billion in Q4 2018 alone.
Hyperscale and edge computing are joined at the hip. Wherever hyperscale goes, edge computing will be there too. The projections for future investment in edge computing, in fact, look conservative.
OK, everybody’s not going to jump into their jalopies and rush out and buy edge systems right this second. They will, however, actually need these systems and their virtual mega-zoo of A.I., technologies, and services, soon enough.
That’s where, and why, the big money is looking so hard at edge computing. These edge systems will need to be at least as common as smartphones within a relatively short time frame. Edge systems are a fundamentally good, very useful approach to managing ridiculously large amounts of data, heavy-duty number crunching and a mega-bandwidth of real operational requirements.
Not all edge systems are equal
The bottom line here is that edge computing is likely to be so diversified that “due diligence” is the only option for investors. The competition for investment in edge computing will be exceptional. There are a lot of developers, researchers, engineers, and many truly inspired ideas.
Those who are investment funded and supported will have a real edge, if you’ll excuse the expression. Those who aren’t may lose their edge, and some good ideas, if not supported. You’re about to see what may well be the next levels and next mode(s) of tech investment. Be respectful of what that may mean, because on this truly gigantic scale of possible investment options, it will redefine the relationships between investment and tech almost entirely.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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