5 Key Features of an Edge Computing Platform
Edge computing is a distributed computing system that allows data to be processed closer to its origin instead of having to transfer it to a centralized cloud or data center.
Edge computing speeds up analysis by reducing the latency time involved in moving data back and forth. It also eases pressure on the cloud and data center systems, as they no longer have to support data sources and devices outside the immediate enterprise perimeter, in addition to the directly connected environment. Edge computing is beneficial for internet of things (IoT) use cases as IoT devices are typically wireless and situated in remote locations.
An edge computing platform drives edge computing by:
- Enabling real-time data processing away from the central cloud or data center.
- Caching, buffering, and optimizing the data close to the edge device or IoT system.
- Transforming the data received by edge devices and IoT into a format that can be processed for analysis.
According to the 2021 State of the Edge report by the Linux Foundation, edge deployments will increase by 40% between 2019 and 2028 to keep up with enterprise needs. An edge computing platform helps orchestrate these deployments by enabling app services for the edge, secure access, and intuitive infrastructure provisioning without communicating with a central cloud.
The key features of an edge computing platform include the following:
1. Edge application support
Applications have to be specifically designed to run on the edge. You might want to port existing applications from the cloud to edge environments, or you might want to develop edge native applications. The platform you choose should come with its development suite. It may also integrate with third-party services for app delivery through application programming interfaces (APIs).
2. Analytics insights
Since edge endpoints are distributed in nature, it can be challenging to maintain control and visibility over time. Therefore, the platform must include an analytics dashboard to monitor all edge devices in your IT environment and use telemetry to collect data from remote locations. Typically, edge computing platforms will have a central hub to maintain the observability of key metrics.
3. Cloud to edge infrastructure
Most enterprises do not run fully greenfield edge deployment. Instead, the edge environment acts as an extension to the primary cloud and can often unlock cost efficiencies by offloading workloads from the cloud to the edge. The platform you choose should streamline cloud to edge provisioning, ideally through infrastructure as code techniques to drive consistency automation.
4. Edge security
Security is a significant concern at the edge as data processing happens in a location far away from the central IT team. That’s why your edge computing platform should have built-in security protocols that you can enforce to manage edge network access and govern data flow between edge devices. The platform may also integrate third-party security services and security monitoring tools.
5. IoT enablement
IoT is the primary use case for edge computing in enterprise environments. Edge platforms allow IoT devices to process data and carry out automated actions locally without losing any latency time. Therefore, it is advisable to look for specific IoT enablement features, such as an IoT marketplace, containerization tools, and prior experience in IoT deployments.
See More: What Is Edge Computing? Components, Examples, and Best Practices
Top 10 Edge Computing Platforms in 2022
Edge computing platforms can be deployed for a wide range of use cases, from clinical decision-making on healthcare wearables to industrial environments like manufacturing, telecom, and mining. They can either be paid or open-source, and your selection should depend on the unique development needs of your organization. Here are our top 10 recommendations for edge computing platforms, arranged in alphabetical order.
Disclaimer: This list is based on publicly available information and may include vendor websites that sell to mid-to-large enterprises. Readers are advised to conduct their final research to ensure the best fit for their unique organizational needs.
1. Alef Private Edge Platform
Overview: Alef is a New York-based edge computing company founded in 2009. It provides edge connectivity products for industrial sectors and healthcare, education, and governments.
Features: The key features of Alef Private Edge Platform include:
- Edge application support: The architecture enables private mobile networks on edge with APIs for a versatile range of applications.
- Analytics insights: You can manage the environment from a centralized platform and view operational analytics.
- Cloud to edge infrastructure: Alef makes it easier to deploy edge infrastructure from the cloud without any knowledge of 3GPP standards.
- Edge security: You can maintain granular network access control to reduce the risk of exposure.
- IoT enablement: Alef powers a combination of 5G and edge network connectivity, ideal for running IoT devices.
USP: Alef has a large community of developers due to its open ecosystem and sandbox environment. This means you can benefit from peer support and gain learnings and inspiration.
Pricing: Solution components are priced individually, starting from $0.25 per 1000 logins.
Editorial comments: Platforms like Alef help enterprises gain from the world’s growing 5G infrastructure. But its use cases are limited and may not apply to enterprises outside of the telecom and managed services sector.
2. Azure IoT Edge
Overview: Azure IoT Edge is part of Microsoft’s intelligent cloud-to-edge computing solutions suite. It primarily addresses IoT use cases.
Features: The key features of Azure IoT Edge include:
- Edge application support: You can offload workloads to the edge and use AI for edge decision making.
- Analytics insights: The Microsoft Azure Admin Center provides you with detailed insights on Edge operations.
- Cloud to edge infrastructure: You can gain from Azure’s IoT Hub, which supports zero-touch device and infrastructure provisioning.
- Edge security: Edge devices can be remotely monitored, and the platform is integrated with Azure Defender for IoT.
- IoT enablement: The platform is purpose-built for IoT applications and can be leveraged alongside Azure Stream Analytics, containers, and certified IoT hardware.
USP: Azure IoT Edge is supported by Microsoft’s deep research into the cloud, artificial intelligence, IoT, and edge computing. As a result, you can deploy a full-stack solution with a single platform.
Pricing: Solution components are individually priced, starting at $25 for every 4,00,000 messages sent per day by each edge unit.
Editorial comments: For companies already using Azure infrastructure, the Azure IoT Edge platform is a practical choice. This platform also supports the Apple ecosystem, but interoperability between Mac and Windows is complex, and ROI can be slow for new Azure customers.
Overview: ClearBlade is an Austin-based company founded in 2007. It provides edge computing software for scalable IoT applications in industrial environments.
Features: The key features of ClearBlade include:
- Edge application support: You can leverage data, messaging, code, triggers, portals, and other connectors to run applications on edge.
- Analytics insights: You can easily filter and stream data at the edge and obtain insights from the centralized edge platform.
- Cloud to edge infrastructure: ClearBlade supports code portability, which can be developed in the cloud and pushed to the edge or implemented at the edge itself.
- Edge security: Edge access is secured through multiple encryption, authentication, and authorization layers.
- IoT enablement: ClearBlade is compatible with most IoT systems, devices, and protocols (ZigBee, BlueTooth, ZeroMQ, etc.)
USP: ClearBlade has very strong integration capabilities and is one of the few edge computing platforms that support deployment via a standard software stack. This reduces the time and effort needed for implementation.
Pricing: Pricing for ClearBlade is undisclosed, but you can gain from a free trial.
Editorial comments: ClearBlade is designed for IoT use cases, particularly for asset management, making it a good fit for industrial companies. But its no code architecture may limit configurability.
4. Eclipse ioFog
Overview: Eclipse is an integrated development environment built by the Eclipse Foundation, backed by IBM. Eclipse ioFog is the organization’s open-source edge computing platform.
Features: The key features of Eclipse ioFog include:
- Edge application support: It runs an agent on each edge device so you can execute applications through a microservices architecture.
- Analytics insights: The Controller hub provides you with remote visibility and analytics insights.
- Cloud to edge infrastructure: You can link cloud infrastructure to the edge through built-in connectors.
- Edge security: Eclipse ioFog has an open architecture, which means you can connect it with third-party security services.
- IoT enablement: Eclipse ioFog can be adapted to various use cases, including IoT, through Kubernetes development.
USP: Eclipse ioFog is one of the very few edge computing platforms you can use for free, without any deployment hassles or compromise on performance. This makes it accessible to everyone.
Pricing: It is a free, open-source solution.
Editorial comments: Teams who require reliable microservice capabilities at the edge can trust Eclipse ioFog, given that industry leader Edgeworx backs it. However, updates may be a little irregular, given that it is open-source and was last updated in June of 2020.
5. ESF Edge Computing Platform
Overview: Everyware Software Framework (ESF) is an enterprise-grade IoT edge framework by Italian software company Eurotech. It is primarily meant for software vendors and developers.
Features: The key features of ESF Edge Computing Platform include:
- Edge application support: You can develop and manage IoT edge computing applications through a programming tool called Wires.
- Analytics insights: You can monitor application and device performance from a centralized dashboard.
- Cloud to edge infrastructure: ESF supports cloud resource provisioning from multiple vendors such as Eurotech Everyware Cloud, Microsoft Azure IoT Hub, and Amazon AWS IoT.
- Edge security: It generates detailed telemetry data and lets you control message exchanges by enforcing message routing rules.
- IoT enablement: ESF connects with the Eclipse Marketplace for IoT to streamline IoT implementation.
USP: The ESF Edge Computing Platform has a robust application development suite that supports the protocols needed for field devices and popular industrial IoT components. This makes it secure and compliant right out of the box.
Pricing: The ESF Edge Computing Platform is custom priced, with no pricing information disclosed.
Editorial comments: The platform has an elegant architecture that works with most public clouds, device variants, IoT protocols, and application types. But the user interface (UI) is slightly complex and involves a difficult learning curve.
Read more:Top 10 Edge Computing Platforms in 2022