What is IoT Edge Computing?

What is IoT Edge Computing?.jpg

IOT Edge computing processes data closer to its source (IoT devices), reducing latency and bandwidth usage. By decentralizing computation, it enhances efficiency and enables real-time analysis and control. It's crucial for applications like industrial automation, where timely decision-making is vital, and enhances efficiency by minimizing reliance on centralized cloud servers. Edge computing is key in networking, managing data processing and connectivity between edge devices and the broader network infrastructure.

Diagram describes the relationship between edge computing and cloud computing

The "edge of the network computing" architecture focuses on computation at the network's entry point. Edge computing stands in contrast to cloud computing, which relies on large, centralized data centers or cloud resources located in geographically distributed server farms. Fog computing expands this concept to include computations anywhere between the data source and the cloud.

Benefits of edge computing in IoT networks

Decentralized approach is essential to address the challenges posed by the massive scale and low latency requirements of IoT applications (and end-users).

  1. Reduced Latency: Edge processing reduces latency for time-sensitive tasks like real-time monitoring and autonomous vehicles by handling data closer to devices, enhancing response times crucial for instant decision-making.

  2. Bandwidth Optimization: Edge computing minimizes data traffic and costs by processing data locally on IoT devices, sending only relevant information to the cloud, thus conserving bandwidth and reducing strain on networks.

  3. Improved Reliability: Maintaining a stable and consistent cloud connection in remote or disconnected environments is challenging. Edge computing allows devices to operate autonomously, even when network connectivity is limited or unreliable. By processing data locally, edge devices can continue functioning and making critical decisions, even when connection is unstable.

  4. Real-time Decision-making: Certain IoT applications require real-time decision-making capabilities. Time-sensitive decisions can be made more quickly and efficiently by processing data near the devices' edge.

  5. Offline Operations: IoT devices can operate offline or with limited connectivity by processing data locally. This capability ensures devices can perform critical tasks and make decisions independently, even in remote or resource-constrained environments lacking reliable network connectivity.

  6. Scalability: Edge computing enhances scalability for IoT networks by distributing processing power across devices. This approach efficiently utilizes resources, reducing strain on centralized data centers as the number of IoT devices increases.

  7. Cost Efficiency: Edge computing reduces costs for IoT deployments by minimizing data transmission to the cloud, optimizing bandwidth, and utilizing lower-cost hardware for data processing tasks. These efficiencies make edge computing an appealing choice for large-scale IoT applications with budget constraints.

Edge computing data security

Edge computing addresses IoT security concerns through:

  1. Reduced data exposure: Processing data locally minimizes the need for transmitting sensitive information to centralized servers, decreasing the attack surface.

  2. Real-time analysis at the edge allows immediate response to security threats, enhancing overall data security and control.

  3. Enhanced privacy: Keeping sensitive data at the edge protects user privacy, particularly crucial in applications involving personal or confidential data.

  4. Local threat prevention: Edge deployment enables implementing local threat detection and prevention mechanisms, adding an extra layer of security.

  5. Reduced network congestion: Processing data locally reduces the volume of data transmitted over the network, lessening the risk of interception or tampering.

  6. Improved reliability: Decentralized edge systems enhance IoT network resilience by preventing a single point of failure or attack from affecting the entire system.

What types of data processing can be performed with edge computing in IoT?

Edge computing in IoT offers several types of data processing that can be performed to enhance the capabilities and efficiency of IoT systems. Some of the key types of data processing are:

Data filtering and aggregation: Edge computing allows data to be filtered and aggregated at the edge devices before transmitting it to the cloud or a central server. This helps reduce network congestion and bandwidth requirements, as only the necessary data is sent further for processing.

Data analytics and machine learning: Edge computing empowers IoT devices to perform local analytics and machine learning tasks. IoT systems can generate realtime insights and predictions without relying on cloud connectivity by running data analytics algorithms and machine learning models at the edge. This is particularly useful in scenarios where low latency and quick response times are critical.

Anomaly detection and security: IoT devices can perform real-time anomaly detection and security monitoring at the edge with edge computing. Analyzing data locally allows potential security threats or abnormal behavior to be identified and acted upon immediately without continuous data transmission to a cloud-based security system.

Predictive maintenance: Edge computing enables predictive maintenance in IoT systems by analyzing sensor data locally and identifying patterns or trends that indicate potential failures or maintenance requirements. This allows for proactive maintenance and reduces downtime, as actions can be taken based on realtime analysis at the edge devices.

Data caching and storage: Edge computing allows for caching and storing frequently accessed data at the edge devices. This reduces the need for constant access to the cloud or central server, improving response times and overall system performance.

Real-time decision-making: IoT devices can make real-time decisions based on local data processing and analysis. This eliminates the need for constant communication with a central server or cloud, enabling faster response times and reducing dependence on network connectivity.

Data privacy and compliance: There’s an added layer of data privacy and compliance by keeping sensitive data localized and processed at the edge devices. This reduces the risk of data breaches and ensures compliance with regulations that govern the processing and storage of personal or sensitive information.

Challenges with using edge computing in IoT applications

Edge computing offers numerous benefits for IoT applications, such as reduced latency, improved security, and enhanced reliability. However, it also brings along several challenges that need to be addressed. Let's delve into some key challenges of edge computing in IoT applications.

  1. Limited resources: Edge devices typically have limited computational power, storage resources, and energy resources. This poses challenges in running resource-intensive applications or handling large amounts of data locally. Developers must optimize their applications to ensure efficient resource utilization and minimize the impact on edge devices.

  2. Network connectivity: Edge computing relies on a network infrastructure to enable communication between edge devices and the central cloud or data center. Edge devices may sometimes experience intermittent or unreliable network connectivity, disrupting data transmission and application functionality. Developers should design applications to handle network disruptions and ensure data integrity and reliability.

  3. Security and privacy: With edge computing, data processing and storage occur at the edge devices, introducing potential security and privacy risks. Edge devices may be more vulnerable to physical tampering or unauthorized access, making them attractive targets for attackers. Developers must implement robust security measures, such as encryption, authentication, and access control, to protect sensitive data and ensure the integrity of edge devices.

  4. Scalability and management: Managing a large-scale deployment of edge devices can be challenging. Adding new devices, updating software, and monitoring their performance requires efficient management systems. Developers must design scalable architectures and implement effective management solutions to ensure smooth operation and maintenance of edge devices.

  5. Data management and analytics: Edge computing generates vast data that must be processed and analyzed in real time. However, edge devices may not have the computational power or storage capacity to handle complex data analytics tasks. Developers must find ways to optimize data management and analytics processes, such as implementing data compression techniques or offloading data to the cloud for analysis.

  6. Interoperability and standardization: The IoT ecosystem comprises many devices, platforms, and protocols. Ensuring interoperability and standardization across edge devices and applications can be challenging. Developers must adopt open standards and protocols to facilitate seamless communication and integration between edge devices and other components of the IoT infrastructure.

  7. Data governance and compliance: Edge computing involves processing and storing sensitive data, subject to various regulations and compliance requirements, such as data protection laws or industry-specific regulations. Developers must ensure that their applications comply with relevant data governance and compliance regulations, such as implementing data anonymization or encryption techniques.

  8. Edge device failure and maintenance: Edge devices are prone to hardware failures or malfunctions due to their exposure to harsh environments or limited maintenance capabilities. Developers must consider failure scenarios and design applications that can handle device failures gracefully, such as implementing redundant systems or backup mechanisms.

Edge computing vs. cloud computing

Edge computing and cloud computing are two distinct approaches to handling data in the context of IoT. While both have their merits, they differ in several key aspects.


Edge computing refers to processing and analyzing data near its source, i.e., at the network's edge, typically on IoT devices or in close proximity. In contrast, cloud computing involves processing and analyzing data on remote servers in data centers owned by companies like AWS or Microsoft (Azure), often located far from the IoT devices generating the data.

Data Processing Location:

Edge computing prioritizes local data processing, which can result in faster response times, reduced latency, and improved real-time decision-making capabilities. Alternatively, cloud computing relies on centralized data processing, transmitted to remote servers for analysis and storage. This allows for extensive computational power, scalability, and ability to handle large datasets.

Bandwidth and Connectivity:

Edge computing is advantageous when bandwidth is limited or unreliable, as it reduces the need to transmit large amounts of data to the cloud. By processing data locally, edge computing can minimize the impact of network latency and reduce the reliance on stable internet connections. In contrast, cloud computing requires strong and consistent connectivity to transmit data to and from cloud servers.

Data Security and Privacy:

Edge computing can provide enhanced data security and privacy as sensitive or confidential data can be processed locally without being transmitted to external servers. This reduces the risk of data breaches or unauthorized access during transmission. In cloud computing, data is transmitted to remote servers, potentially introducing security vulnerabilities. However, cloud service providers often have robust security measures to protect data.

Edge computing vs. fog computing

Fog and edge computing are both crucial in IoT distributed architectures, but they differ significantly. Edge computing vs. fog computing differences:

  1. Architecture: Edge computing is decentralized, while fog computing introduces fog nodes, creating a hierarchical structure.

  2. Computational Power: Edge computing prioritizes lightweight tasks, whereas fog computing provides additional computational power for more complex tasks.

  3. Scalability: Edge computing scales with each device's resources, while fog computing scales by deploying more fog nodes.

  4. Latency and Bandwidth: Edge computing minimizes both, while fog computing reduces latency but may still route some data through fog nodes.

In summary, edge computing focuses on lightweight tasks at the edge, while fog computing offers a hierarchical structure with more computational power for complex and less repetitive tasks.

PubNub and IoT edge computing

Edge computing has gained significant attention in the age of IoT devices. PubNub offers a robust platform that enables developers to build and deploy realtime applications, including IoT device control apps, at the network edge. By leveraging PubNub's infrastructure, APIs, and SDKs, developers can establish secure and low-latency communication between IoT devices and facilitate real-time data exchange and analytics.

Here are some key points to understand the relationship between PubNub and IoT edge computing:

  1. Realtime Communication: PubNub's platform enables seamless realtime communication between IoT devices at the network's edge.

  2. Data Stream Management: PubNub provides powerful data stream management capabilities, allowing developers to handle large volumes of data generated by IoT devices. With features like message filtering, buffering, and secure data-in-motion, PubNub ensures efficient data handling and delivery.

  3. Edge Analytics: PubNub supports edge analytics, allowing developers to perform data processing and analytics directly on IoT devices or at the network's edge. This capability eliminates the need to send all IoT data to the cloud, reducing latency.

  4. Security and Access Control: PubNub prioritizes security in IoT edge computing by offering end-to-end encryption, access control mechanisms, and secure authentication.

  5. Scalability and Reliability: PubNub's global infrastructure ensures high scalability and reliability for IoT edge computing applications. With data centers worldwide, PubNub can handle millions of concurrent connections and guarantee reliable data delivery even in challenging network conditions.

We enable developers to build real-time interactivity for IoT, web, and mobile devices. The platform runs on our real-time edge messaging network, providing customers with the industry's largest and most scalable global infrastructure for interactive applications. With over 15 points of presence worldwide supporting 800 million monthly active users and 99.999% reliability, you’ll never have to worry about outages, concurrency limits, or any latency issues caused by traffic spikes. It’s perfect for any application that requires real-time data.