“The relative newness of the edge market makes it more difficult to evaluate,” says Grundemann. “In fact, the biggest challenges are still related to defining ‘edge.’ There are many different aspects to edge and many different perspectives on what (or where) exactly it is. In my view, many of them are correct. So, our challenge for this report was defining what specifically we were including and how we were defining this one aspect of edge.”
In the wider technology industry, the term “edge” is used fairly loosely. For the purposes of the report, Grundemann, along with co-researcher Logan Andrew Green, describe edge platforms as ones that leverage distributed infrastructure to deliver services, content, compute, and security closer to end devices, offloading networks and improving performance.
Figure 1 shows where platforms reside in the edge stack.
The edge platforms Radar report explores vendors that are deliberately and strategically building edge platforms.
All of the vendors evaluated are pioneers in the space, navigating a market that is still maturing, the research notes. Current edge platform users are early adopters and Grundemann expects the availability of edge-based technologies and the general consensus that edge applications go hand-in-hand with cloud-based offerings to drive innovation and encourage users to buy into the benefits of edge platforms. However, the technical novelty of edge-based applications makes it hard to determine what the next development will be.
While there is a lot that remains to be seen in this space, now is a great time to start experimenting “with truly distributed applications,” the report states. The analysts encourage companies with the right resources to jump in, but consider your individual needs first, says Grundemann.
“IT leaders need to go into any potential edge deployment with a firm grasp of their specific needs,” he says. “Edge is a niche solution, so there are a very select set of challenges, namely latency. So, first ask yourself, what are my organization’s requirements, objectives, and constraints? Once you have a clear picture of the ideal state, only then can you start to figure out which type of edge solution is actually appropriate—whether it is an edge platform as in the report, or something entirely different, like edge-colocation for example.”
And because of the relative newness of the market, go slow, Grundemann says.
“Like all tech trends, it can be easy to get swept up into ‘edge-fever’ and just like cloud, going all-in on edge without a plan will likely end up costing you.”
Learn more about the GigaOm Radar Report for Edge Platforms here.