3 reasons why 2020 will be the most interesting year yet for edge computing

17 Jan 2020

Image: © hanohiki/Stock.adobe.com

Forrester analyst Abhijit Sunil offers up his predictions for edge computing in 2020.

The emerging category of edge computing has been steadily rising in importance and maturity, and 2020 will be the most interesting year yet for vendors and users in this exciting space.

57pc of mobility decision-makers surveyed in the 2019 Forrester Analytics Global Business Technographics Mobility Survey said they have edge computing on their road map for the next 12 months, which is significant when considering how recently edge computing arrived in the sphere of technology evolution.

According to our survey, the biggest benefits organisations seek from edge computing include flexibility to handle present and future artificial intelligence demands and the fact that computing at the edge avoids network latency and allows faster responses. Following this are use cases generated due to a need for edge computing to conduct complex processing that cloud can’t support, fuelled by the proliferation of connected devices.

A chart showing how survey respondents ranked the benefits of using edge computing, with flexibility to handle AI demands on top with 54pc.

Click to view full-size. Image: Forrester

In a Q4 2019 comparison of all contemporary computing platforms, Forrester lists edge computing as an invest strategy for organisations. That trend will continue in 2020.

The expansion in edge computing investment is driven by the growing maturity of edge platforms, the parallel advent of supporting technologies such as 5G and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, and increasing use cases for analytics and machine learning.

So what’s going to happen in 2020 for edge computing? In Forrester’s inaugural predictions brief on edge computing, we provide a detailed analysis. Below are just some of these predictions.

1. Custom form factors

In 2020, fit, form and function will drive development of custom form factors.

Edge computing is characterised by the variety in applicable use cases in multiple industries. Unique demands of compute, storage and networking for each use case will drive the development of custom form factors, right from the processor level.

One example that we see already is HPE leading a Series C investment of up to $145m with former Cisco CEO John Chambers’ start-up Pensando Systems, which is bringing to market a custom programmable processor optimised for edge computing.

2. Growth in edge cloud service market

Public megacloud providers, telecommunication companies, platform software providers, content delivery networks and data centre colocation providers are innovating to provide basic infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and advanced cloud-native programming services on distributed edge computing infrastructure. The goal of these vendors is to offer IaaS and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) services that run independently of or with only intermittent connectivity to public cloud and data centre assets. In 2020, this nascent edge cloud service market will begin to see explosive growth of at least 50pc.

3. Multi-vendor packaged solutions

An illustration depicting the difference between connected cars when a company owns its own connectivity versus each company connecting via a multi-business network.

Illustration from the 2017 report, Pick The Right IoT Network Strategy. Image: Andre Kindness/Forrester

Due to ubiquitous bandwidth and connectivity limitations, maintaining edge computing platforms will drive organisations to work with integrators to support their solutions instead of building and deploying their own. This is applicable across industries including retail, manufacturing, and transportation and logistics.

By Abhijit Sunil

Forrester analyst Abhijit Sunil’s research focuses on the communication services sector, data centres and colocation, enterprise IT networks and 5G.

Download Forrester’s Predictions 2020 guide for more information on the major dynamics that will impact firms this year.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Forrester blog.