Edge is leading the hardware industry into a new era of innovation. In this episode of Utilizing Tech, Stephen Foskett, and co-hosts, Allyson Klein and Alistair Cooke, sit down to dissect this. In the wake of Intel’s discontinuation of its NUC product line, a question that is in everyone’s mind is, what’s next. Intel, and many behemoths like it, have a proud legacy of knowing how to break a stalemate and preserve the churn, and even if that means stepping up and pulling the plug on an old product. It oxygenates the marketplace, welcoming new solutions and keeping the wheel of innovation moving. In the context of the emerging paradigm of edge, this change will likely propel the market towards a new breed of powerful, low-cost, pocket-size hardware that delivers breakthrough energy-efficiency and compute performance with little infrastructure.
Although blockchain technology has been tainted by scammers, the core idea of distributed consensus is relevant for certain edge applications. This episode of Utilizing Edge focuses on practical application of blockchain technology in edge and IoT, featuring Jason Benedicic, Alastair Cooke, and Stephen Foskett. Two key concepts in blockchain are the distributed ledger and consensus approach. There is a lot of work being done to apply blockchain in medical, finance, IoT, and proof of provenance. Although many applications can rely on authority or quorum, larger and more heterogeneous applications might benefit from consensus instead. The other aspect of blockchain, chain of custody and immutability of data, is potentially relevant in preventing supply chain attacks and dealing with transient devices. It’s important to remember that many of the things that have put people off blockchain, from financialization to public exposure of transactions, are not necessarily required in all blockchains.
Computing and sensors have been deployed at the edge for decades, and this is certainly true in the agriculture sector. This episode of Utilizing Edge features Edge Field Day delegates Ben Young and Alastair Cooke discussing with Stephen Foskett the evolution of connectivity and orchestration at the edge. Governmental policies can have a huge impact on the deployment of technology, from connectivity to environmental regulations, as has the emergence of inexpensive sensors, batteries, and processors thanks to the mobile phone industry, along with solar power. Cloud-inspired automation and orchestration is another key enabler of technology in agriculture and at the edge, with zero-touch provisioning, management, and central maintenance. Containerized applications, caching, and cloud-derived control planes are very popular at the edge, though not exactly the same way as in the cloud.
Media and entertainment is one industry generating and moving vast amounts of data at the edge. This episode of Utilizing Edge brings Jimmy Fusil of Tsecond into a discussion with Alastair Cooke and Stephen Foskett about the unique data challenges in media and entertainment. There is a great need for local processing, secure data transport, and efficient storage utilization in managing the ever-increasing volume of data generated during film and TV production. The podcast explores the continued relevance of physical media, like tape, for long-term archiving, while also emphasizing the security measures necessary to protect creative privacy and prevent potential plot leaks in the industry. Fusil also discusses Tsecond’s groundbreaking product, Bryck, a portable NVMe storage device capable of holding up to a petabyte of data with a remarkable 40GBps data transfer speed. The discussion highlights how Bryck’s high-performance storage facilitates on-device data processing, ensuring quick backups and maintaining data integrity. It’s critical to consider edge storage solutions like Bryck in many data-intensive sectors beyond media and entertainment as well.
Edge computing comes in many forms and brings many challenges, including bandwidth limitations, network reliability issues, and limited space. This episode of Utilizing Edge brings Brian Chambers, Alastair Cooke, and Stephen Foskett together to discuss the state of the edge in 2023. Industries like retail, multi-tenant environments, and industrial IoT find practical applications, but defining the edge remains an ongoing exploration. Implementation varies, from repurposing existing technologies to adopting modern approaches like containers and function as a service. The debate between virtual machines and containers continues, driven by organizational comfort. Despite constraints, edge environments offer greater control and accountability. The future promises more innovation and adoption, cementing edge computing’s significance in the tech landscape.
When it comes to edge computing, money is not limitless. Joining us for this episode of Utilizing Edge is Carlo Daffara of NodeWeaver, who discusses the unique economic challenges of edge with Alastair Cooke and Stephen Foskett. Cost is always a factor for technology decisions, but every decision is multiplied when designing edge infrastructure with hundreds or thousands of nodes. Total Cost of Ownership is a critical consideration, especially operations and deployment on-site at remote locations, and the duration of deployment must also be taken into consideration. Part of the solution is designing a very compact and flexible system, but the system must also work with nearly any configuration, from virtual machines to Kubernetes. Another issue is the fact that technology will change over time and the system must be adaptable to different hardware platforms. It is critical to consider not just the cost of hardware but also the cost of maintenance and long-term operation.
Although everyone wants high availability from IT systems, the cost to achieve it must be weighed against the benefits. This episode of Utilizing Edge focuses on HA solutions at the edge with Bruce Kornfeld of StorMagic, Alastair Cooke, and Stephen Foskett. Although it might be tempting to build the same infrastructure at the edge as in the data center, but this can get very expensive. Thinking about multi-node server clusters and RAID storage, the risk of a so-called split brain means not just two nodes but three must be deployed in most cases. StorMagic addresses this issue in a novel way, with a remote node providing a quorum witness and reducing the need for on-site hardware. Edge infrastructure also relies on so-called hyperconverged systems, which use software to create advanced services on simple and inexpensive hardware.
The edge isn’t the same thing to everyone: Some talk about equipment for use outside the datacenter, while others talk about equipment that lives in someone else’s location. The difference between this far edge and near edge is the topic of Utilizing Edge, with Andrew Green and Alastair Cooke, Research Analysts at Gigaom, and Stephen Foskett. Andrew is drawing a line at 20 ms roundtrip, the point at which a user feels that a resource is remote rather than local. From the perspective of an application or service, this limit requires a different approach to delivery. One approach is to distribute points of presence around the world closer to users, including compute and storage, not just caching. This would entail deploying hundreds of points of presence around the world, and perhaps even more. Technologies like Kubernetes, serverless, and function-as-a-service are being used today, and these are being deployed even beyond service provider locations.
Edge environments were historically very specialized, but virtualization and cloud technology is enabling companies to deploy commodity platforms at the edge. This episode of Utilizing Edge features Raghu Vatte of ZEDEDA discussing this commoditization with Alastair Cooke and Stephen Foskett. Although the transition is still getting started, standard compute platforms are rapidly being exploited at edge locations, from warehouses to retail to industrial. Even is some specialized hardware is still needed, a unified platform can increasingly absorb a majority of applications at the edge. Another factor contributing to commoditization is the standardization of application requirements, with most now virtualized or containerized with standards developing for I/O and shared hardware resources.
Although the technology is roughly similar to datacenter or cloud, the unique challenges of edge computing require new approaches to storage, networking, orchestration, deployment, and more. We were kicking off a new season of Utilizing Tech focused on edge computing, featuring Alastair Cooke and Brian Chambers as co-hosts along with Stephen Foskett.