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Why Edge Computing Is Not Above the Stack!

I am a long-time Futurist, and technologist. In my career, I have spanned the birth of personal computers, to the rise of Cloud Computing.

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i heard someone say "and edge computing is above the stack."

I heard an interesting statement the other day, and as a futurist, I'm always on the prowl for interesting statements. The person said deploying an edge solution is about the stack. First, by way of explanation, let me tell you that. That is the Landscape. The concept of device landscape and application data are destinations is a very simple process. One way to present this is to consider the traditional OSI routing layers or stack is the Landscape. How you get there. So someone who thinks edge computing puts you above the stack doesn't understand what stockings. Stack is the application and the data of that application, not the enabling technology. Edge computing is an extension of the customer's infrastructure. They are pushing the stack further than it ever has been available before. I remember the first time I sat down with a big data expert and spent a lot of time talking about big data. She introduced me to the concept of either moving the data or moving the processing so that a user could quickly get the information they needed. That was the initial paradigm within big data, move the data or move the processing. Edge computing solves the problem of what to do with the large data set and the processing. It, however, does not move you above the stack. It simply takes the sack and pushes it further away from the core.


It goes back to that very simple concept about a month and a half ago: the device, the Landscape, destination, or application data. It is a simple concept, and each of those works together to make the others better. Traditionally, the device has stood on its own and can be laptops, tablets, or cell phones. As we head into the future, it's more likely over time the only a cellphone. Each device used by a user has a distinct capability. Something it does well it used to be, a few years ago that VDI was very difficult to use for many solutions. VDI solutions didn't support graphics coprocessors, and in the modern world graphics coprocessor is pretty critical. In fact, for many applications, it's mandatory. So the capabilities of the device you're using can be a limiter or an expander of the possible art. The device is how the user interacts with the data collection process. It's also how the user interacts with the data presentation process. A good friend of mine always jokes if your job is to measure 1/4 acre of land, you can easily do that with a cell phone. If your job is to map 100 acres of land, you're better off using a drone on a laptop. So the device in and of itself is all about the right tool at the right time.


The application date or destination is also critical to consider; destinations have three distinct types that we need to understand. First, there are two classes of destinations today. One is the data center one is the cloud. The last type is a hybrid solution. Edge solutions exist as either part of the cloud or part of the data center. In reality, they push the solution to the Edge of the network. In that case, you have the data center, and we play the Authn and Authz game. The data center hosts the authentication infrastructure; the user connects via VPN or the Internet, is authorized, and goes to another source. That could be another data center, or that could also be a sass application or a custom-built cloud application. It is the Way Station. You pause, but don't stop at a Way Station. Next, we have the Data Center or Virtual Data Center (Cloud) used as an endpoint. I go there to end up there. Quite simply, that is often just using enterprise applications or mission-driven applications. And then finally, the last way people use that data center or destination or cloud solutions is as a point within a larger set of points. The authorization process is more than that—some data collected in the destination the first destination. The rest of the data acquired as the user moves through the other sources. So it's quite simple when we think about destinations what they represent. You'll notice this in this description of the destination. I also added Edge because Edge sits between the cloud and the on-premise data center, and there doesn't have to be an on-premise data center.

The greatest application ever built still has to have a landscape!

The Landscape is how we get from the device to the application data or destination. The Landscape can be packet radio; it can be a land mobile radio; it can be a cellular phone, 4G LTE, 5G, and so on. You can have an ethernet connection to a landscape. You can have a wifi connection to a landscape. I suspect the one landscape solution now fully deprecated in the modern world is two tin cans and a string between them. The reality of that situation that solves Landscape is that the Landscape is the physical topology you move from the device to the application date and destination. Or, more crudely, it is the stack. If you look at the OSI model for many years ago, it is the lower layers of that model. When people talk about being about the stack, they took about being above the network. DNS or domain name services, secure DNS are all parts of the stack. DHCP is part of the stack. The stack concept is how we move IP or Internet protocol packets from the device to the application data destination and utilize it.

If we go back to the origination of this, the person saying that edge computing was above the stack, now you see why I have explained the stack. The reason for that is quite simple. People must understand that the concept of the stack or the Landscape is old world. If you think about the concepts of cloud computing, which have been pretty stable since around 2009, the reality is since 2009; there have been three distinct evolutions in the landscape world.

  • When the cloud was released, 3g and wifi N were the standards for wireless communication.
  • Cloud doesn't change, but landscapes do. 4g andthen 4g LTE plus Wifi 5 were releaed. Cloud was pretty much the same.
  • Next is 5 g and Wifi 6, and you can see all 3 evolutions. Edge computing is a new addition to the capabilities of the stack. We talked about the device's capabilities.

I tell people you can build the greatest application ever; that application can be fault-tolerant with no way to fail. But if nobody can get to it, it's useless. That's the value of the Landscape. But it's also important that we utilize the existing definitions and not change them to make edge computing more or less. Edge computing is a solution to a problem. The original problem that edge computing solved is moving the data or moving the processing in the world of big data. I would now argue that edge computing also offers the opportunity to build five-nines applications without the extensive cost of applications truly. It allows organizations to tailor their Landscape to provide services to users where they need those services properly.

Edge computing is a landscape empowered solution. But the reality is edge computing is part of the stack. It extends the stack considerably and offers a new paradigm for how organizations use computer storage and, ultimately, applications. The cool thing is many applications will be rewritten for edge computing. Edge computing combined with 5G allows for even lower latency within the application itself. I will no longer have to wait for applications to return information in the 5G era. And I will leave you with this last thought the reality of edge computing extending the Landscape empowers what people can do with the Landscape. If we go back to my story about the perfect application, it is useless if you don't have a way to connect to it. When I started my first IT job, my boss used to say clear disk you can seek forever. So while edge computing isn't above the stack, sadly, it is the stack, but it is also happily an extension of the Landscape/stack. Let's end with a quote originally from Buzz Lightyear of the Toy Story movies, but modify it. They are only modified by changing a couple of words. Still, as we head down this path of edge computing, this expansion of the Landscape to include and embrace the Edge, the new catchphrase will be again borrowing from Buzz light year to the Edge and beyond.

A quick definition of Edge Computing: The solution can be moved to the very limits of the customer, network providers (or cloud providers) network moving the data, application, and user into the same space.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 DocAndersen

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