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Edge computing refers to computation involving drones, connected cars, smart factories, or IoT sensors. Any software deployment that is not a large centralized server installation could qualify as an edge device–even a smartphone.
Today, much of our heavy computation takes place in the cloud–a set of remote data centers some distance away from our client devices. For many use cases, this works fine. But there are a growing number of use cases with lower latency and higher bandwidth requirements at the edge.
A simple example is video. Let’s say you want to record a video stream, and detect people in that video stream in real time. Based on who those people in the video stream are, you want to do different things–maybe you want to send them a text message, or report to the police that a dangerous person has entered the premises. This video stream could be captured by a drone, or by a smart car, or by a video camera mounted somewhere.
Where is the video stream getting stored? Where is the machine learning model running? How do you deploy new machine learning models to the operating system with the machine learning model? This is a simple example, and there are many open questions as to how to best solve such a problem.
With the increased resource constraints at the edge, there is a need for new hardware and software to power these edge applications. This led to the creation of LF Edge, a new open source group under the Linux Foundation. The goal of LF Edge is to build an open source framework for the edge.
Arpit Joshipura is the general manager of networking, orchestration, edge computing, and IoT with the Linux Foundation. He joins the show to describe the state of edge computation, and the mission of LF Edge.
This episode was exciting for several reasons. After seeing the rise of Kubernetes for container orchestration, we know that a popular open source technology that solves a widespread problem can have dramatic influence on the software world. And when multiple large companies get involved in that open source project, it can gain traction quite quickly.
Edge computing has a large set of unanswered questions, but telecom providers like AT&T and large infrastructure companies like Dell EMC are getting heavily involved with the Linux Foundation Edge group. This represents a significant expansion of the open source model, and a suggestion of further investment into open source projects in the near future.