Edge Server: Everything you need to know
You’re probably familiar with the concept of servers. They’re the computers that host the websites, files, and services you access using your devices. Edge servers do essentially the same thing but from different points within a network. Modern networks don’t just rely on server clusters in one location. Instead, they have servers placed in multiple dispersed locations at these networks’ extremes, or “edges,” for a more decentralized approach. Edge servers enable you to serve user requests faster and increase your network’s security.
What is an Edge Server?
Edge servers will help you in performing data computation at the edge of your network. These are like regular servers. You can do computing, storage, and networking functions on these servers.
Edge servers will help you in processing data close to your end users. Thus, you can quickly fulfill your end-user request. You don’t need to worry about sending a request to a centralized server. These devices will help you in processing raw data and returning content to your machines. Edge servers are faster when compared to normal servers. Two famous types of edge servers are:
- CDN edge servers: These servers will have a cached version of all your static content. This will help you in reducing the response time of your server.
- Compute edge servers: You can use these servers for providing computing resources to your edge devices. An edge computing server will provide you with all the functions you need for your IoT apps.
How does it work?
In any network, many devices connect to each other using one or more than one pre-defined network pattern. If any network wants to connect to another network then it must have some sort of bridge and edge devices can be used to create that bridge. In a typical scenario, mobile or computer devices connect or disconnect through a hub-and-spoke network model.
All of these computing devices exist within a LAN and each network device is connected to a central router through which the devices can communicate with each other. To connect two networks, a connection has to be developed between two networks which is done via an edge server.
For example, a computer resides inside network X and wants to connect to a computer residing inside network Y. For two computers to connect, the connection must pass from network X to the edge server and then the network Y. The same methodology becomes more complex when connections are being made across the internet. The ability for networks to share transit is bottlenecked by the availability of edge devices between them. When a connection must pass through the internet then more intermediary steps have to be taken between network X and network Y.
Benefits of an Edge Server
The most direct advantage of processing information on the edge is that there is no longer a need to transmit data to and from the cloud. As a result, latencies in data processing can be greatly reduced. In industrial applications, for example, an edge server would be able to respond to a given crisis almost immediately. On the other hand, cloud computing can introduce delays of up to seconds in the event of a poor connection. While a few seconds may not sound significant, every margin of safety that can be achieved is often worth pursuing when it comes to operation-critical equipment!
Greater Computing Capacity
Servers are often equipped with a great deal of computing power. For example, they might be made up of a cluster, which is a group of computers that share computing resources and work as a single entity. Edge Servers provide computing capabilities that supplement local devices since such devices are typically less powerful to accommodate both space and power restrictions. In doing so, there are now greater possibilities for applications that are deployed on the edge!
Reduced Bandwidth Requirement and Cost
With an edge server, there would be a reduced need to exchange data with external networks, resulting in a lower requirement for network bandwidth and thus reduced costs. Take an image classification task for example. With a reliance on cloud computing, entire images must be sent for online processing. But if an edge server was used instead, there would no longer be a need to send that data. Instead, this transmission would now only occur within the local network, saving greatly on bandwidth costs.
Increased Data Security
A reduction in the transmission of data to external locations also means fewer open connections and fewer opportunities for cyber attacks. This keeps local devices operating safely out of the reach of a potential intercept or data breach. Furthermore, since data is no longer stored or processed in the centralized cloud, the consequences of a single breach are heavily mitigated.
With the distributed nature of edge computing, operational risks are also distributed across different networks when using edge servers. What this means is that even if the centralized cloud computer or cluster fails, the edge server would still be able to maintain the functions in the local network, since the computing processes are now independent of the cloud! This is especially important for critical IoT applications in healthcare or critical control systems.
Edge Server vs Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is the act of running a workload on a cloud, a software-defined environment created by a data center or server farm. Edge computing is the act of running a workload on an edge server, a piece of hardware that runs outside of a data center. While different, edge and cloud computing are not mutually exclusive. An edge server can be a part of a cloud if you abstract its storage and computing resources. Also, both edge and cloud computing can use containers, and software packages that can run on any cloud deployment model.
Use cases of Edge Server
If you need fast real-time data processing, then an edge server is perfect for you. These devices are the perfect solution for you if you can’t deploy bulky standard servers. Some of the main use cases of edge servers are:
- IoT sensors can be used with edge servers.
- Surveillance sensors can be used for real-time data analysis.
- Self-driving cars have to collect a lot of data and make decisions quickly. Edge servers will help in achieving this.
- IoT devices will help healthcare in monitoring patient health.
- Banking apps can use edge servers for isolating their sensitive data. It will also help them in providing quick service to their customers.
- Apps like Netflix can use edge servers for showing cached videos to users.
- Edge servers will help you in monitoring your gas and oil assets.
- Hybrid cloud architecture can use edge servers. The central server will be responsible for handling compute-intensive workloads. Edge servers will provide you with real-time processing power.
Servers are all around us and are the foundation of the digital world and the internet as we know it, storing data and providing services that we use and rely on. Now, with the increasing popularity of edge servers, anyone can take advantage of these additional computing capabilities to build their own application, whether for personal or industrial use!