What Is an Edge Server and Why Is it Essential for Modern Computing?

Advances in technology like IoT devices on product lines, smart home devices, and a slew of new work-from-home applications mean that networks are being taxed like never before. Traditional centralized server setups are no longer able to keep up with these growing data needs. Why?

Centralized servers require that data be processed at your main hub and sent to users around the world from a single location or a few locations. This creates huge inefficiencies due to processing backlogs, distance lag, and dependency on a smaller subset of equipment. Edge servers flip the script and allow organizations to deliver consistently great experiences to their clients.

Edge Servers Move Data Closer to Users

Imagine that your job, close family, and the stores you love were all within walking distance. Think of the travel time you would save on every occasion that you needed to visit these locations. Now, imagine the opposite; everything you need is at least a 45-minute drive. It’s easy to see which would give you a better experience. This example helps make the case for edge servers when compared with a traditional centralized strategy.

Edge servers are placed close to your users to improve their experience. But, far from acting as lone knights on the edge of your infrastructure, they work in tandem with central servers to provide users with better latency than any single server could process. How is this accomplished?

Edge servers come in many form factors. They could be large high-performance machines dedicated to boosting latency for an enterprise office building or small, compact machines that can fit in a NEMA enclosure on a factory floor. The secret of these portable servers is twofold. First, they process raw data closer to the user instead of sending back unprocessed data to the main server. Second, they cache and transmit data closer to the user, minimizing the back-and-forth to the main hub. This dual benefit results in snappier performance, enhanced user experiences, and additional layers of security.

How does using edge servers increase network security? The edge servers act as a shield for your main network. Since connections go to the edge first, DDoS and other attacks targeted at servers can more easily be contained to a specific region and are less likely to reach your main databases. You probably agree that security and speed are compelling arguments in favor of edge infrastructure, but how has modern technology increased their importance?

iot device
IoT devices range from tiny CPUs to immense HPC infrastructure.

Advances in technology often mean computing decisions need to be made faster. Consider IoT devices that perform in-hospital patient monitoring. These devices are directly linked to patient health, and if devices fail to connect, it could be disastrous for patients.

Another example of the mission-critical nature of edge computing is the remote monitoring of oil and gas assets. These elements are volatile, and mismanagement can lead to accidents that result in expenses for the organization and negative PR that could impact the brand for years to come.

The solution is a robust edge network that allows IoT devices and users to access the network with extremely low latency. The use cases we’ve mentioned so far may require HPC edge servers that can keep up with the low-latency demands these fields require. However, your needs may be different.

To learn more about building an edge server read our article on how to maximize edge server performance by aligning hardware to the use case.

Edge Hardware for Your Use Case

It can be a challenge to manage a growing IT infrastructure at the edge while keeping pace with your company’s products. Intequus can help you build custom hardware that supports your edge network and maintain that hardware for its full lifecycle. Learn how our team can improve your edge infrastructures performance.

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