Two different definitions of Edge Computing arrive in one week

And more are being debated – all in the name of standardising language


The world’s just been given two new definitions of Edge Computing, in the service of making it easier to talk about the topic. But another debate is already considering more definitions for the term!

One of the definitions came from the Open Fog Consortium, which this week was pleased to let us all know that its OpenFog Reference Architecture for fog computing was adopted as an official standard by the IEEE Standards Association. That document’s accompanying glossary (PDF) defines Edge Computing as follows:

Also referred to as Mesh Computing, this concept places applications, data and processing at the logical extremes of a network rather than centralizing them. Placing data and data-intensive applications at the Edge reduces the volume and distance that data must be moved.

The other definition came from a new group of vendors who hope to do business on the edge, but feel it’s hard to have a cogent conversation about edge computing because nobody uses the same definition. They therefore worked on a glossary that the Linux Foundation has agreed to tend.

Here’s their definition of Edge Computing:

The delivery of computing capabilities to the logical extremes of a network in order to improve the performance, operating cost and reliability of applications and services. By shortening the distance between devices and the cloud resources that serve them, and also reducing network hops, edge computing mitigates the latency and bandwidth constraints of today's Internet, ushering in new classes of applications. In practical terms, this means distributing new resources and software stacks along the path between today's centralized data centers and the increasingly large number of devices in the field, concentrated, in particular, but not exclusively, in close proximity to the last mile network, on both the infrastructure and device sides.

Memorable, isn’t it? And wow, it sure rolls off the tongue! If you disagree with our editorial assessment, know that the Glossary is also available on GitHub so you can add your own edits.

But wait, there’s more! Over on the OpenStack Foundation’s Edge-computing list participants have recently debated definitions for “small”, “medium” Edge implementations, complete with expected hardware. A small Edge will have a single server, but a medium Edge could have between two and 20 racks of kit!

All of which perhaps proves the point of the folks behind the Open Glossary: Edge is new enough that common language is hard to find.

But at least people are trying. ®

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