What exactly is the edge?
An Irish guitarist?
To be honest, it was never in my IT vocabulary...
What exactly is the edge? What makes something an edge appliance? These are trickier questions than you might think, and depending on who you ask — and honestly, what they’re trying to sell you — the answers can vary wildly. Yet, the edge is often talked about as if it’s one place or thing. It’s not. At best, it’s a catchall …
In my experience, it's a piece of kit with vastly overblown resources that is being repurposed for things it was never initially supposed to take care of but, because it has all this CPU and RAM, it now can.
I find it curious that, now that fiberoptic connections are almost everywhere in the business arena, stuff with more resources that they ever should have are also popping up everwhere.
It would have been vastly more efficient to have those "edge" resources back when a 1Mbps line was considered the height of tech, but here we are.
When I was working at DEC, we were supplying systems that could, I guess, be considered a very early "edge" device in the 1980s. They were intended to collect data from a local store, do some aggregation and compression, and send the compressed data to HQ. The stores were not designed for computer installation - so any storage space with electrical power and reasonable air-flow would do. At least one of our computers was installed in a cabinet over the toilet in the (unisex) bathroom. Service required closing the bathroom and the tech standing on the toilet seat to work on the computer. There were some embarrassing incidents if a too, um, burly tech was sent to that job.
At DECUS (DEC User Symposium) conferences there was usually a midnight session where all the good stories were discussed. It was very hilarious and well worth staying up till near dawn.
That's Digital Equipment Computer Users Society.
Yes, DECUS had symposiums. Yes, the late-night back rooms were where the action was. (Where do you think CES attendees got the idea?) I was one of the guys babbling about BSD on PDP-11 to anyone who was interested. Still am, come to think of it ...
The edge firewall sits between your network and the internet. In my experience, this does a better job of protecting your data than the firewall on your PC.With a decent edge firewall you don't really need a PC firewall and the PC will run quicker.
As somebody else said, edge is also a rubbish web browser, which I call that tool Microsoft supply so you can download Chrome/Brave/Vivaldi or whatever takes your fancy.
Have to agree with you. As far as I am concerned an edge device is a firewall / vpn concentrator. That device is an “edge” between stuff I can control and stuff I can’t.
Anything on the clean side is a lan component anything on the other side is a wan system.
I know the definition gets a bit fuzzy with cloud solutions but the same should apply the lan has just got busier with direct connect links they are in essence part of the lan these days anyway.
Ps you might have guessed I am a firewall network security person
I don't really give a shit either ... but when you think about it, "edge" suggests a physical location somewhere. And yet "edge" is rather nebulous, although not as much so as "cloud". I rather suspect this lack of spacial location makes the word fucking useless in this context.
I propose a better word for the same products: STUFF.
Marketing would love it "Here's our new line of STUFF!"
Management would love it "I don't know what STUFF is or does, but it's selling!"
Sales would love it "People are stupid, look at all the STUFF they are buying!"
ElReg would love it, they wouldn't have to change acronyms "Junk Widget Co. Has released a new line of IoS!"
ElReg Commentards would love it "Don't you wish all these idiots would STUFF it?"
I'd always thought of 'edge' as 'can we run this chunky calculation on the nice fast ARM core that the user has already paid for in their smartphone, rather than on a no-better ARM core that AWS is charging us four cents an hour for' - if you're procuring new hardware for edge then you're doing it wrong.
For me, that would be called "locally". But maybe calling it edge makes it sound... Edgier? *badum-tish*
The first use of edge I've seen was for machines YouTube provides to ISPs that cache the top 0.1% of videos which create 50% of traffic. Which doesn't stop ISPs from whining YouTube should reimburse their bandwidth costs.
I thought that was obvious:
"Today, the term usually refers to compute resources located in close proximity to a data source. The approach allows information to be processed closer to the end users"
All we've done is invent a new term for the PC...
Interestingly, MS seem to have understood this with their idea of on-prem within the MS cloud subscription model.
"All we've done is invent a new term for the PC..."
You seem to have overlooked the genius behind "close proximity". Close proximity has the precise meaning of tantalizingly just out of reach. If the cloud is "someone else's computer" as a server, the edge is "someone else's computer" as a PC! In both cases, the point is you _don't_ control it. Because if you control it, that's such a hassle. Let us control it, and you can sit back counting all your beans. Yes, edge been commandeered by marketing and divorced from any technical meaning. But that's okay, the intended target audience for the buzzy word is the same visionaries queuing up for the cloud.
"Edge" = a Nadella-type-ism. Words usually made up, or twisted in meaning, by marketing idiots to try and impress people as a means to baffle their audience, which doesn't understand what the hell they are talking about. In other words, gobbledegook!
A lot of these words/expressions/meaning are made up by techie types so far up their own arse that they hardly know the proper meaning of language in the first place.
Can we also get rid of "performant"? I realise that technically it's a valid word, but nobody ever used it until markteters in the IT world discovered it a few years back. It doesn't actually mean anything measurable (which is no doubt why marketers like it!).
There may be a good reason to not do so, which presents immediately following the header/title:
"The term [edge] has become so ambiguous it's verging on irrelevance."
What is it to be "verging?" It's to be on the verge of.
So to be on the "edge" of, (if not just synonymous with to be on the "verge" of), doesn't need to be "retired" so much that IT just needs a new "job description."
A major reason "edge" may have become so overused is out of a desire for an alternative to "verge."
(I may be wrong on that point, to a greater or lesser extent. I could just be "going out on a limb," as the idiom goes.)
But let's look at things from the perspective of where the "verge" is coming from, so to speak.
We could take just plain literally, and do a "quick dip," (which would be like jumping off the "edge" to do a "deep dive," but at the shallow end of the pool), into the etymology of "verge."
"Verge," from the ONLINE ETYMOLOGY DICTIONARY:
"edge, rim," mid-15c.,
from Old French verge "twig, branch; measuring rod; penis; rod or wand of office" (12c.),
hence, from the last sense, "scope, territory dominated" (as in estre suz la verge de "be under the authority of"), from Latin virga "shoot, rod, stick, slender green branch," of unknown origin.
Hmm ... "verge" actually comes off as being much more ambiguous a word, (all-around), than "edge."
"Verge" is virtually leaning on either "edge" or "rim" to establish its meaning.
But if "edge" needs a "job" that "verge" is not doing, why not give it a mirrored position in the adjoining office?
If the term "edge" has become so ambiguous that it's on the verge of being irrelevant,
then we can say the term "verge" has become so concise that it's on the "edge" of being relevant.
To demonstrate that concept being applied, let's use the question posed as an example (in the article) for an example (in this context):
"What the heck is an 'edge appliance'?"
It's an appliance that is on the "verge" of being either relevant or irrelevant, but is neither, so long as it remains an "edge" appliance.
All we are doing with that is just "going all the way" on "edge." Rather than going through the (likely fruitless) effort of trying to expunge "edge" for its unfathomably shallow ambiguity, simply identify "edge" as being undecidable. Rather than irrelevant, it becomes absolutely necessary to the vocabulary, while it has no value to anything which the vocabulary represents.
Otherwise, the only other candidate for the position of "edge" would be "verge," and we'd REALLY hate to have to give that term "the axe," after it gets split down the middle and has to do the work of ambiguity for both sides of, (where we like and don't like), the way it's being used.
I sat watching a panel once where four dignitaries of the Data Centre Industry all described what they thought of as "the edge" and it turns out none of them could agree - one even described it, not unsurprisingly as he owns data centres there, as the edge of the civilised world, such as Russia and Africa! Needless to say, the panel was a bit of a joke - they should have talked together beforehand, instead of talking at cross-purposes.
I now divide the various layers up into Compute Edge (anything from IoT, automated factories/cars/planes, etc. to the mobile phone in your hand), Near Edge (an aggregator and filtering of Compute Edge data) and cloud/colocation (where the remaining edge data is passed back to the centre to be processed further and stored)
I've never heard a storage device being described as server. SAN comprising hard disks is called storage but hard disks integrated with the server are not - although both perform the same function of storing programs and data. SAP India website says RISE for SAP includes only the Public Edition of SAP S/4HANA where SAP India instructors giving training to RISE with SAP partners say RISE for SAP includes both Public Edition and Private Edition of SAP S/4HANA.
I could go on and on but this shows that there's a lot of ambiguity in terminology even inside the datacenter. But nobody is suggesting that we retire the terms storage or ERP from our vocabulary.
Likewise, just because there's ambiguity in edge devices doesn't mean that the term should be retired.
Besides, sensors, zigbee "transmitters", and barcode scanners are just a few examples of devices for which the term "edge" is clearly applicable.
The article missed a major advantage of 'edge'.
Having a high performance device of my specification away from the control of corporate IT management means I can run what I want, where I need to.
The moment I am forced the road of moving my niche applications into the overhead and delay-ridden hell that is the helldesk, the time it will take to do many specialised jobs will rise threefold.
I don't refer to it as edge, but by the definition given, my use case clearly fits.
It's worth pointing out that The full term is: **Cloud** Edge. What makes it "Edge" vs an Industrial computer is that it's software to offer almost-on-prem hardware that then connects to a cloud service.
Technically hybrid cloud hardware is also just "hardware" but what makes Azure Stack different is the fact that from a software perspective it's cloud API.
Cloud Edge is perfectly clear. It's a device that exposes on prem data to the cloud and vice versa. Someone mentioned Edge Firewall to be snarky but actually that is a perfect analogy. An edge firewall filters WAN/LAN. A Cloud Edge Compute device works with the cloud to ingest on prem data, pre process it and safely upload it to WAN.
The IT industry uses vocabulary that is more marketing blitz than technical all the time. Fuzzy marketing terms are the norm, not the exception. Edge just means non-centralised. Not putting everything in the same cloud data centre or two. Spread it about. No need to be more specific than that.