In the past few years, edge computing has been revolutionizing how some very familiar services are provided to individuals like you and me, as well as how services are managed within major industries. Try to get your arms around what edge computing is today, and you might just discover that your arms aren\u2019t nearly as long or as flexible as you\u2019d imagined. And Linux is playing a major role in this ever-expanding edge.\nOne reason why edge computing defies easy definition is that it takes many different forms. As Jaromir Coufal, principal product manager at Red Hat, recently pointed out to me, there is no single edge. Instead, there are lots of edges \u2013 depending on what compute features are needed. He suggests that we can think of the edge as something of a continuum of capabilities with the problem being resolved determining where along that particular continuum any edge solution will rest.\n\nSome forms of edge computing include consumer electronics that are used and installed in millions of homes, others that serve tens of thousands of small businesses with operating their facilities, and still others that tie large companies to their remote sites. Key to this elusive definition is the idea that edge computing always involves distributing the workload in such a way that the bulk of the computing work is done remotely from the central core of the business and close to the business problem being addressed.\n\n\n\n\n\nDone properly, edge computing can provide services that are both faster and more reliable. Applications running on the edge can be more resilient and run considerably faster because their required data resources are local. In addition, data can be processed or analyzed locally, often requiring only periodic transfer of results to central sites.\nWhile physical security might be lower at the edge, edge devices often implement security features that allow them to detect 1) manipulation of the device, 2) malicious software, and 3) a physical breach and wipe data.\nBenefits of edge computing\nSome of the benefits of edge computing include:\n\nA quick response to intrusion detection, including the ability for a remote device to detach or self-destruct\nThe ability to instantly stop communication when needed\nConstrained functionality and fewer generic entry points\nRugged and reliable problem resistance\nMaking the overall computing system harder to attack because computing is distributed\nLess data-in-transit exposure\n\nSome examples of edge computing devices include those that provide:\n\nVideo surveillance \u2013 watching for activity, reporting only if seen\nControlling autonomous vehicles\nProduction monitoring and control\n\nEdge computing success story: Chick-fil-A\nOne impressive example of highly successful edge computing caught me by surprise. It turns out Chick-fil-A uses edge computing devices to help manage its food preparation services. At Chick-fil-A, edge devices:\n\nAnalyze a fryer\u2019s cleaning and cooking\nAggregate data as a failsafe in case internet connectivity is lost\nHelp with decision-making about cooking \u2013 how much and how long to cook\nEnhance business operations\nHelp automate the complex food cooking and holding decisions so that even newbies get things right\nFunction even when the connection with the central site is down\n\nAs Coufal pointed out, Chick-fil-A runs Kubernetes at the edge in every one of its restaurants. Their key motivators are low-latency, scale of operations, and continuous business. And it seems to be working extremely well.\nChick-fil-A\u2019s hypothesis captures it all: By making smarter kitchen equipment, we can collect more data. By applying data to our restaurant, we can build more intelligent systems. By building more intelligent systems, we can better scale our business.\nAre you edge-ready?\nThere\u2019s no quick answer as to whether your organization is \u201cedge ready.\u201d Many factors determine what kind of services can be deployed on the edge and whether and when those services need to communicate with more central devices. Some of these include:\n\nWhether your workload can be functionally distributed\nIf it\u2019s OK for devices to have infrequent contact with the central services\nIf devices can work properly when cut off from their connection back to central services\nWhether the devices can be secured (e.g., trusted not to provide an entry point)\n\nImplementing an edge computing network will likely take a long time from initial planning to implementation. Still, this kind of technology is taking hold and offers some strong advantages. While edge computing initially took hold 15 or more years ago, the last few years have seen renewed interest thanks to tech advances that have enabled new uses.\nCoufal noted that it's been 15 or more years since edge computing concepts and technologies were first introduced, but renewed interest has come about due to tech advances enabling new uses that require this technology.