As cloud providers have learned from the first several years of deploying cloud availability zones, network nodes, and access points, they’re changing both the architecture of their cloud infrastructure and the edge of their deployments. “Edge” in this case means all the points where an individual cloud company’s network ends, handing off traffic to another service provider who takes it to the end user. While there isn’t a comprehensive list of all the changes taking place – the new unit was formed to figure that out – at least some of the drivers are clear.
The Internet of Things requires a more distributed data center topology, where many relatively low-capacity nodes are deployed closer to where many devices generate data. Some companies have already started investing in this edge computing infrastructure – AT&T and NTT Communications are two of the more prominent examples – but that investment is bound to accelerate once the anticipated 5G wireless standard comes out, enabling the kind of data transfer rates required for next-generation applications like self-driving cars and augmented and virtual reality.
IoT edge control points “are going to be connected to the cloud and are going to require storage, networking, and server infrastructure all over the world to drive connected cars, connected tractors, sensors, cameras — all these things that are going to get connected to the cloud and to the internet. The more likely scenario is its site-selection thinking will be heavily influenced by the ability to either host edge computing nodes or quickly aggregate data from as many of them as possible; while its technology investment decisions will be focused on enabling interconnection of networks that carry that data.