What Is Edge Computing?

Extending Capabilities Across Your Network

3 minute read

Edge computing means moving computation and data storage capabilities closer to the source of data. Narrowing the distance between data generation and collection can reduce latency, bandwidth usage, and overall cost for the enterprise.


A remote industrial location


Edge of the Network

Many modern organizations, and even entire industries, are not always structured around the traditional factory where all of the equipment is under one roof. Instead, they have dispersed networks made up of multiple remote sites — often referred to as “the edge of the network” or “edge nodes” — some of which can be completely unmanned.

Edge computing is most often installed in locations such as oil pipelines, maritime vessels, industrial zones, or any remote area where a constant human presence is unnecessary or even impossible. By implementing solutions directly at the network edge, organizations can increase performance, reduce the chances of operational downtime, and allow for data encryption in the field. However, many remote sites suffer from poor or inconsistent internet, meaning that it is absolutely vital to constantly monitor connectivity and bandwidth consumption.


Outdoors antenna data transmission


Store and Forward at the Edge

It doesn’t benefit an organization to gather data at the source if that data can’t be effectively transmitted back to a central database. To prevent any loss of data, store-and-forward protocols locally collect and store data if a connection is ever lost — some for up to 35 days, before transferring all logged data once the connection is reestablished.


Edge Computing and MQTT

Cellular networks used in communications with edge devices often require data transmission across long distances. Due to the high frequency of poll-response communication, cellular networks can incur incredibly high costs. To address this issue, solutions such as MQTT, in conjunction with the Sparkplug B specification, employ a publish-subscribe protocol to streamline communications from the edge of the network, reducing bandwidth usage and the collection of unnecessary data.


A plant floor screen used for edge computing


Edge Computing on the Plant Floor

While the name implies faraway locations, edge computing is defined by proximity and the placement of PLCs and other computing devices in relation to the data source, meaning that the “edge” and its related benefits can be utilized on the plant floor as well. With the rise in popularity of IIoT, a subset of edge computing, many companies are now using this same concept of lightweight edge-based solutions across the enterprise to satisfy the demand for real-time data, allowing them to make better, more informed decisions.

As organizations shift their operational strategies to include edge computing, software companies have shifted their focus to match, developing powerful solutions to this emerging paradigm.


Ignition Edge Panel


Ignition Edge

With unlimited tags, unlimited device connections, and built-in data syncing, products like Ignition Edge IIoT, and Ignition Edge Panel, allow companies to leverage their networks to the very edge, capturing, processing, and visualizing critical data. Ignition Edge IIoT turns virtually any field device, such as a touch panel or a client terminal, into a lightweight, MQTT-enabled edge gateway, providing remote data acquisition and secured feedback and control, while Ignition Edge Panel includes everything in Ignition Edge IIoT, plus local visualization functionality for HMIs.

It’s never been easier to implement edge solutions that improve data collection, transfer, and utilization across your entire network.

Learn More About Ignition Edge

Posted on March 20, 2024