The Internet of Things (IoT) edge computing market is tightly correlated with the IoT market in general, but despite a common misconception that edge and IoT are synonymous, these terms are mutually exclusive.
Edge computing can be described as a distributed computing approach that brings computational capabilities and data stores closer to the primary sources of data. The overarching goal of edge computing is to improve network latency. IoT is a specific kind of technology that helps to facilitate this goal.
Edge computing has been used since the late ‘90s, as outlined in this Bosch ConnectedWorld blog post. Initially, the technology was used for video and image content delivery through content delivery networks (CDNs).
As the blog details, widespread edge computing adoption didn’t happen until IoT device adoption exploded, creating a need for networks to receive and send huge volumes of data to and from the cloud. With traditional networking, these processes bogged down enterprise networks and rendered IoT insights only marginally useful in many cases.
This review of the IoT edge computing market will provide look at the state of this thriving market, key drivers impacting that growth, the leading industries and organizations using IoT sensors, common use cases for IoT edge computing, and top vendors in this space:
State of the IoT Edge Computing Market
In its edge computing market analysis report, Grandview Research estimates that the global edge computing market size was valued at $4.7 billion in 2020, and it predicts the market will expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38.4% between 2021 and 2028.
Key Growth Drivers
Grandview Research points to the extensive range of stakeholders involved in IT infrastructure, including edge computing, as a key growth driver. To work well, edge computing requires a complex architecture of hardware, software, IoT device and sensor communications, and various service management providers. Each of these stakeholders has a vested stake in the edge computing market and competes with one another to attract edge computing clients.
The IoT edge computing market also benefits from the global nature of modern business. To gain international market share, global companies are investing in edge computing to offer the same level of reliability and speed to international clients that they offer domestically. A domain host, for example, can significantly benefit from investing in edge computing services that eliminate the latency inherent to providing service across thousands of miles. Edge computing can lead directly to new lines of business and an increased operational footprint.
Prominent industries using IoT edge computing technology include:
- Health care
- Domain and website hosts
Features of IoT Edge Computing
- Support for the most common protocols that allow communications between IoT sensors and devices and the edge gateway — for example, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, and Siemens S7
- Local data processing capabilities like the ability to utilize analytics algorithms, provide notifications and alarms, and monitor and report on application performance
- Local data storage capacity
- Security features like permission-based access control, encrypted communication, security certificate management, and the ability to integrate into existing cybersecurity platforms
- Remote management capabilities of individual gateways
- Portable to multiple hardware platforms (though some edge computing offerings are linked to proprietary vendor hardware)
Benefits of IoT Edge Computing
Reducing latency in network operations is arguably the biggest benefit of IoT edge computing. By bringing data processing and other computing processes closer to IoT sensors and other devices, network latency is reduced. Faster, more reliable networking speeds offer advantages, including increased operational efficiency and improved client service.
Investing in edge computing can also benefit organizations by reducing the size of expensive, on-premises network architecture. For the end-user, edge computing is a near-invisible benefit that reduces the overall cost of cloud-based computing. Edge computing is often used within hybrid cloud architectures as well.
With edge computing, organizations can utilize data collected locally to serve global visibility and analysis in the cloud.
See more: Internet of Things (IoT) Security Market
IoT Edge Computing Use Cases
Operations with especially large footprints, like oil pipeline companies, benefit from remote asset monitoring facilitated with edge computing. IoT sensors send data about asset conditions to edge servers, which analyze the information and issue alerts about potential issues before failures occur.
While this use of edge computing technology is still in its infancy, the transportation industry is benefiting from fleet management enhanced by edge computing. As fleets of trucks travel freeways, IoT sensors send information to edge servers about fuel consumption, routing, and other data that can help logistics managers increase efficiency and on-time deliveries and pickups.
Edge computing can be used for video monitoring, biometric scanning, and other surveillance measures. Advanced edge computing systems can analyze security data in real-time to ensure only authorized individuals are accessing secure locations.
Health Monitoring Applications
Health care providers produce and manage enormous stores of data from a large array of devices found in medical facilities and patient wearables. Because of the immense amount of data that needs to be managed from many multiple IoT endpoints, health care data networks can become bogged down, leading to not only IT concerns but potentially dangerous health outcomes for patients. Edge computing relieves much of this burden.
Multi-player gaming requires a great deal of bandwidth and suffers significantly when there are latency issues. Large-scale game companies like Blizzard Entertainment are using edge computing to match gamers based on location to game servers closer to them. The result is vastly improved latency and better gaming experiences, for which many users are happy to pay a premium.
Remote Work Applications
As many enterprises discovered during the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be a significant challenge to keep a remote workforce connected. VPN and other approaches often introduce so much latency into workflows that work stops altogether. Edge computing approaches to remote worker connectivity reduce lag and improve network security through increased endpoint oversight. Applications like video conferencing also benefit from edge computing setups.
Streaming Video Services
Content distribution today is driven by over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms, and edge computing can make these business models globally viable by delivering content from physically closer edge servers. Video streaming providers like Hulu have expanded into new regions where latency issues had made it impossible before the advent of edge computing.
Smart Device Support
Homes and offices increasingly rely on smart technology to control climate systems and other functions remotely, but users often find that there is a noticeable delay when they execute commands via mobile apps. Edge computing decreases that delay.
See more: 85 Top IoT Devices
IoT Edge Computing Providers
These ten companies are among the most prominent IoT edge computing vendors:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Google Cloud
See more: Best IoT Platforms & Software