What is the killer app for the edge? If you said it was streaming content, you’d be right…in some places. If you said it was cloud access, you’d be right in others.

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– Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

If you said it was XaaS or 5G or gaming or IoT, you may have been right in other places and times because all of those apps and services have been helped and accelerated by the speed, proximity, security, and reliability of the edge over the past decade.

But in 2021? The killer app for the edge is as old and ubiquitous as the world itself – because the true killer app is the everywhere edge.

If edge data centers started out by serving up streaming content and graduated to making it easier, faster, and more secure to access cloud services, those were just the opening acts for what the edge would ultimately deliver.

In a world where data volumes and velocity are accelerating at unprecedented rates, where more businesses are engaged in digital transformation, and where more consumers depend on data delivered to the workplace, the home, the car, and everywhere in between, worldwide, it is important to recognize that all of this is made possible by the edge. And on a human scale, it is the edge that is helping to make the cloud, content, and connectivity available to virtually every person on the planet.

What are the key benefits that every user sees when the edge helps deliver more data to more people in more places?

  • Performance: the number of applications that rely on and benefit from the edge is almost impossible to quantify, but it runs the gamut from gaming to streaming, from all-electric vehicles to VR goggles, from cloud access to IoT sensors. The edge offers proximity, both to the servers and to the end users of these applications, with better network routing that translates into better performance. The edge can’t accelerate the speed of light, but it can help reduce the distance data has to travel as it is transformed into information used by applications.
  • User experience: for individual end users, any app can be a killer app. If the weather app on your phone can tell you it’s going to start raining at your address in seven minutes – and it turns out to be accurate – a city-based user might return to that app many times in a day. For the driver of a connected car, the killer app may be behind the scenes, keeping a car’s software and content up to date. And in a world of competing streaming platforms, end users will gravitate to the services that offer the best experience in finding programs they want to watch and in streaming content without delays, rebuffering, or low-resolution picture quality. For any of these end users the edge helps service providers deliver more data to more places faster and more consistently, whether they’re in a city that’s home to tens of millions or people or in a rural community halfway around the world.
  • Economics: For service providers, the edge offers cost savings that a more centralized solution cannot. If your business delivers terabytes of data to end users scattered around the globe, bandwidth costs can cripple your business case if your service architecture isn’t taking advantage of the edge. Intelligent, distributed architectures can anticipate where your data needs to be stored, so when a user in Seattle uses your app at the same time as a user is rural Florida you’re not sending data over thousands of miles for every request, and you’re not letting your Florida users suffer longer response times than your PNW users are experiencing. The edge helps you save directly on bandwidth costs, and it saves you the costs of unhappy customers.

But it’s not enough to say the edge can facilitate these applications and services. Faster networks and more powerful computing chips can help do that, too. What the edge brings that’s unique – it’s killer app, if you will, is the ability to take these benefits to all corners of the globe, into markets once thought to be inaccessible in any practical sense. An apt analogy might say that, like faster networks or chips, faster jets or larger ships can’t, by themselves, solve global supply chain issues. They need more and better airports so they can bring freight to more places, accelerating local distribution and getting the goods wherever they need to go, faster, safer, and more economically.

Similarly, when we look at data center evolution, the edge began by connecting underserved markets in countries and regions that were already at the forefront of digital transformation. Now, with the emergence of data sovereignty, coupled with the growing benefits of once-local businesses having access to wider markets and end users having access to the best apps and services the world has to offer, the edge has taken on greater importance as a facilitator of the global digital economy.

Centralized data hubs have not delivered the services the market needs for many years, but in a global digital economy the digital supply chain must proliferate to reach more markets, more businesses, and more end users.

The killer app is the everywhere edge. The edge has always been elastic, flexible, and scalable. And now it is bringing cloud, content, connectivity, and capacity to markets, businesses, and end users that are beginning to demand better performance, better user experiences, and better economics for Internet-enabled services. With the everywhere edge, you actually can get there from here – from everywhere.

Find out more about The Everywhere Edge at EdgeConneX.com