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What is edge architecture?

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Edge architecture is a distributed computing architecture that encompasses all the components active in edge computing—all the devices, sensors, servers, clouds, etc.—wherever data is processed or used at the far reaches of the network. 

Edge computing refers to computing done at the location closest to a system’s data or its end user—where information is coming from or going to. Edge architecture allows processing to occur more quickly by reducing latency and lag. Applications and programs running at the edge are able to respond to user interaction and data more quickly and efficiently, resulting in a better user experience and improved overall performance.

For instance, if you’re a shipping company, your "edge" might be located on the docks where shipments are loaded and unloaded, so that processing and analysis of your supply can be produced in near real-time resulting in better data-driven decision-making.

Your company’s headquarters  could be located miles away, housing the main datacenter, but the edge is where you’re collecting data, checking merchandise before it leaves the dock, and otherwise managing, gathering, and sending information–all without worrying about latency.

Similarly, your edge might be comprised of IoT devices like point of sale terminals in a store. These "edge devices" process data at the point of use and only send what is needed to the hybrid cloud.

Because data is collected and processed in near real-time, edge devices operate without latency — as the device does not rely on a central site or cloud for processing. In the cloud, apps use artificial intelligence to learn from the data collected at the network edge and adjust recommendations, functions, and operations.

Imagine a smart city project to deliver power. Edge devices near roadways, city buildings, and transportation hubs process data at the point of collection. Artificial intelligence and machine learning in the application and data platforms learn from the data and train the devices through edge deployments.

Edge computing architecture is an alternative to cloud computing architecture.  Edge computing encompasses an ecosystem of infrastructure components that have been dispersed from the central location of an enterprise’s datacenter outward—across all edge locations—as part of an organization’s holistic deployment.

This includes compute and storage capabilities, applications, devices and sensors—as well as network connectivity back to the central datacenter or cloud working in concert with Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

The devices and sensors are where information is collected. They have just enough bandwidth, memory, processing ability and functionality, and computing resources to collect, process, and execute upon data in real-time with little to no help from other parts of the network. There is, however, some kind of connectivity with the network that enables communication between the device and a database at a centralized location.

Scalability and flexibility are necessities as an enterprise's needs change and grow. Scaled-down, on-premises edge servers or datacenters can be easily moved and fit into comparatively small remote locations. Flexible topology options to fit smaller spaces or different environmental requirements, including power/cooling intermittent network connectivity, are just part of what Red Hat brings to the table for edge computing.

When it comes to creating your own edge architecture, you’ll need to assemble a collection of components that will serve the unique needs of your enterprise. This means including however many devices, clouds, servers, sensors, etc. as needed, wherever your edge happens to be located.

That can feel like a lot to take on.

Red Hat’s edge computing solutions make operations simpler through automated provisioning, management, and orchestration, freeing you up to focus on what’s next for your enterprise. We can help you handle the challenges that come with deploying edge devices wherever you need them, anywhere in the world, along with an ecosystem of partners to build the best edge stack for your enterprise.

Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® is the consistent and flexible operating system that can help you run enterprise workloads from your datacenter to devices for modeling and analytics at the edge, while Red Hat® OpenShift® provides the platform you need to build, deploy, and manage container-based applications across any infrastructure or cloud—including private and public datacenters and edge locations. Automating edge workloads with Red Hat® Ansible® Automation Platform can help you simplify IT tasks, lower operational expenses, and deliver smoother customer experiences across highly distributed edge architectures. 

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