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Why is edge terminology unnecessarily confusing?


The term ‘intelligent edge’ refers to the processing and analysis of Internet of Things (IoT) data in near real time at the edge of the network. No ambiguity there.

The data is generated by the devices, so it is logical to assume that the term “near edge” means near the devices. But if your view of IoT is cloud-centric then it’s the “far edge” because the IoT devices are located far away from the cloud or data centre. It’s confusing, but that’s just the start, says freelance technology writer, Bob Emmerson.

The term “thin edge” computing is being used to indicate that less processing takes place in that location, the one that is close to the devices, than in a distant cloud, which does “thick edge” computing. And to add to the confusion we have fog computing, which is an extension of cloud computing that acts as a mediator between the far / thin edge and the near / thick edge.

Intelligent edge

Far, thin, and thick edge are not intuitively obvious terms, they’re confusing; near edge isn’t and it links to near real-time information. But we only need one word, edge, and one adjective, intelligent.

The intelligent edge encapsulates what edge computing (aka edge compute) is about: it’s the key business deliverable. IoT was predicated on the ability to process parameter and event data and generate information on which local management could take informed decisions. Advances in processing power and edge AI (artificial intelligence) chipsets are taking it to the next level generating near real-time intelligence on which operational and strategic predictions can be made.

For more about the intelligent edge download “IoT at the Edge – Enabling the Real Time Enterprise” from

The author is freelance technology writer, Bob Emmerson.

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