WHAT IS A SERVER?
In computing, a server is a piece of computer hardware or software that provides functionality for other programs or devices, called “clients”. This architecture is called the client–server model.
A server is a computer that serves information to other computers. These computers, called clients, can connect to a server through either a local area network or a wide area network, such as the internet. A server is a vital piece of your IT infrastructure
What are Edge Servers?
Edge servers are powerful computers put at the “edge” of a given network where data computation needs to happen. They are physically close to the systems or applications that are creating the data being stored on, or used by, the server.
How does an edge server work?
In any particular network layout, a number of different devices will connect to each other using one or more predefined network pattern. If a network wants to connect to another network or the larger Internet, it must have some form of bridge in order for traffic to flow from one location to another. Hardware devices that creates this bridge on the edge of a network are called edge devices.
History of edge servers?
Servers have been around for quite a bit of time. The creator of servers, Tim Berners-Lee, worked for CERN in Switzerland in 1989. He actually had a problem. Tim needed to get data from his scientists all over the world and all the CERN labs. And he wanted to make sure that he could access them no matter where he was.
For example, each different computer had different languages. Sometimes you had to know multiple different languages just to get data off of these different computers. As a result, he was able to have one repository that amassed all of this data. The result of this allowed him to push it out to all of his scientists. And so that’s actually where servers started really in this content caching type of an idea.
Tim quietly started this whole server history that we have to this day. He was even brought out during the Olympics, acknowledged by the queen, and knighted!
He tweeted at that time, “this is for everyone.” At OnLogic, we love the idea that somebody who started this has a really enriching history around servers.
What is the difference between an edge server and an origin server?
An origin server is the web server that receives all Internet traffic when a web property is not using a CDN. Using an origin server without a CDN means that each Internet request must return to the physical location of that origin server, regardless of where in the world it resides. This creates an increase in load times which increases the further the server is from the requesting client machine.
Five Benefits of Edge Computing
Speed is absolutely vital to any company’s core business. Take the financial sector’s reliance upon high-frequency trading algorithms, for example. A slowdown of mere milliseconds in their trading algorithms can result in expensive consequences. In the healthcare industry, where the stakes are much higher, losing a fraction of a second can be a matter of life or death.
For businesses that provide data-driven services to customers, lagging speeds can frustrate customers and cause long-term damage to a brand. This may not sound as serious as life and death, but poor network performance and slow speeds can spell the end of your company altogether. Speed is no longer just a competitive advantage—it’s a best practice.
Edge computing’s most significant benefit is its ability to increase network performance by reducing latency. Since IoT edge computing devices process data locally or in nearby edge data centers, the information they collect doesn’t have to travel nearly as far as it would under a traditional cloud architecture.
In today’s world, it’s easy to forget that data doesn’t travel instantaneously; it’s bound by the same laws of physics as everything else in the known universe. Current commercial fiber-optic technology allows data to travel as fast as 2/3 the speed of light, moving from New York to San Francisco in about 21 milliseconds.
However, as more and more data continues to be transmitted, digital traffic jams in the future are almost a sure thing. In 2020, the world generated roughly 44 zettabytes (one zettabyte equals a trillion gigabytes) of data. By 2025, 463 exabytes (one exabyte equals a billion gigabytes) of data will be generated every day.
There’s also the problem of the “last mile” bottleneck, in which data must be routed through local network connections before reaching its final destination. Depending upon the quality of these connections, the “last mile” can add anywhere between 10 to 65 milliseconds of latency.
By processing data closer to the source and reducing the physical distance it must travel, edge computing can greatly reduce latency. This means higher speeds for end-users, with latency measured in microseconds rather than milliseconds. Considering that even a single moment of latency or downtime can cost companies thousands of dollars, the speed advantages of edge computing are paramount to your network.
While the proliferation of IoT edge computing devices does increase the overall attack surface for networks, it also provides some important security advantages. Traditional cloud computing architecture is inherently centralized, which makes it especially vulnerable to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and power outages. Edge computing distributes processing, storage, and applications across a wide range of devices and data centers, which makes it difficult for any single disruption to take down the entire network.
One major concern about IoT edge computing devices is that they could be used as a point of entry for cyberattacks, allowing malware or other intrusions to infect a network from a single weak point. While this is a genuine risk, the distributed nature of edge computing architecture makes it easier to implement security protocols that can seal off compromised portions without shutting down the entire network.
Since more data is being processed on local devices rather than transmitting it back to a central data center, edge computing also reduces the amount of data actually at risk in a single moment. There’s less data to be intercepted during transit, and even if a device is compromised, it will only contain the data it has collected locally rather than the trove of data that could be exposed by a compromised central server.
A quality edge data center should offer a variety of tools clients can use to secure and monitor their networks in real-time.
As companies grow, they cannot always anticipate their IT infrastructure needs. Building a dedicated data center is an expensive proposition, which makes it even more difficult to plan for the future.
In addition to the substantial up-front construction costs and ongoing maintenance, there’s also the question of tomorrow’s needs. Traditional private facilities place an artificial constraint on growth, locking companies into forecasts of their future computing needs. If business growth exceeds expectations, they may not be able to capitalize on opportunities due to insufficient computing resources.
Fortunately, the development of cloud-based technology and edge computing has made it easier than ever for businesses to scale their operations. Computing, storage, and analytics capabilities are increasingly being bundled into devices with smaller footprints that can be situated nearer to end-users.
Expanding data collection and analysis no longer requires companies to establish centralized, private data centers, which can be expensive to build, maintain, and replace when it’s time to grow again. By combining colocation services with regional edge computing data centers, organizations can expand their edge network reach quickly and cost-effectively. As they grow, the flexibility of leveraging edge computing’s capabilities allows them to adapt quickly to evolving markets and scale their data and computing needs more efficiently.
In short, edge computing offers a far less expensive route to scalability, allowing companies to expand their computing capacity through a combination of IoT devices and edge data centers. The use of processing-capable edge computing devices also eases growth costs because each new device added doesn’t impose substantial bandwidth demands on the core of a network.
The scalability of edge computing also plays into its versatility. By partnering with local edge data centers, companies can easily target desirable markets without having to invest in expensive infrastructure expansion.
Edge data centers allow them to service end-users efficiently with minimal physical distance or latency. This is especially valuable for content providers looking to deliver uninterrupted streaming services. They also do not constrain companies with a heavy footprint, allowing them to nimbly shift to other markets if economic conditions change.
Edge computing empowers IoT devices to gather unprecedented amounts of actionable data. Rather than waiting for people to log in with devices and interact with centralized cloud servers, edge computing devices are always on, always connected, and always generating data for future analysis.
The unstructured information gathered by edge networks can either be processed locally to deliver quick services or delivered back to the core of the network, where powerful analytics and machine learning programs will dissect it to identify trends and notable data points. Armed with this information, companies can make better decisions and meet the true needs of the market more efficiently.
By incorporating new IoT devices into their edge network architecture, companies can offer new and better services to their customers without completely overhauling their IT infrastructure. Purpose-designed devices provide an exciting range of possibilities to organizations that value innovation as a means of driving growth. It’s a huge benefit for industries looking to expand network reach into regions with limited connectivity (such as the healthcare, agricultural, and manufacturing sectors).
Given the security advantages provided by edge computing, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it offers better reliability as well. With IoT edge computing devices and edge data centers positioned closer to end-users, there is less chance of a network problem in a distant location affecting local customers. Even in the event of a nearby data center outage, IoT edge computing devices will continue to operate effectively on their own since they handle vital processing functions natively.
By processing data closer to the source and prioritizing traffic, edge computing reduces the amount of data flowing to and from the primary network, leading to lower latency and faster overall speed. Physical distance is critical to performance as well.
By locating edge systems in data centers geographically closer to end-users and distributing processing accordingly, companies can greatly reduce the distance data must travel before services can be delivered. These edge networks ensure a faster, seamless experience for their customers, who expect to have access to their content and applications in an instant anywhere, anytime.
With so many edge computing devices and edge data centers connected to the network, it becomes much more difficult for any singular failure to shut down service entirely. Data can be rerouted through multiple pathways to ensure users retain access to the products and information they need. Effectively incorporating IoT edge computing devices and edge data centers into a comprehensive edge architecture can therefore provide unparalleled reliability.