Edge computing is not a new concept but is still in its infancy in terms of adoption rate, ease of development, cost to implement, and more. The true power of the edge is yet to be fully realized, not without a lack of trying, but because the proper computing/development approach has not yet been brought to the table.
In this post, we discuss how shifting from a request-response message exchange to real-time event-driven processing will enable the next generation of edge-native applications, built specifically for deployment on distributed edge networks.
Decoupling the Edge
Traditionally, systems (both on the edge and on-premise) have been request-based, where the receipt of a request triggers the appropriate action. In event-driven systems, the event generators (edge nodes) respond to an event happening and trigger other event-driven systems that are subscribed to that feed. An easier way to think about it is request-response systems say, “do this” and then fulfill that task while event-driven systems say, “this event happened” and publish that data for immediate analysis and response by other parts of the system.
This decoupling of system architecture highly benefits applications deployed on the edge by decreasing latency, increasing data security, allowing for rapid scalability, and more.
As the speed at which the world operates exponentially increases and more data processing moves to edge devices, organizations can no longer rely solely on databases reacting to requests after the fact. It is paramount to be able to respond in real time and even predict what will happen next. To achieve this, edge devices must be able to run autonomously from the rest of the network, a feature unique to event-driven applications.
Combining Edge Computing and Event-Driven Technology
So, what benefits does combining edge computing and event-driven architecture provide? For starters, it allows you to take advantage of the infinite streams of data (events) that are constantly being generated around us in our cars, at malls, on the streets, on our smartphones, and in cafés, just to name a few. Instead of reacting to an event the same way each time, event-driven applications allow additional context to be taken into account to make the right decision for each unique situation.
A real-world example of this would be a smart building equipped with real-time digital signage. It is extremely valuable to be able to show customized advertisements or information to each person that approaches the sign. Via the use of an edge-connected camera powered by an event-driven application, the sign is able to display custom information based on age, gender, and other demographic data. For more information on this use case, check out our SoftBank case study.
In addition to providing virtually limitless ways to interact with and take action on streaming data, event-driven technology makes the development and deployment process of business logic to edge devices much more agile. When it comes time to change existing system components or add a new application entirely, the entire system does not have to be taken offline or reworked due to the loosely-coupled nature of event-driven architecture.
This provides immense opportunities for rapid growth of organizations in all industries, as previous barriers to entry such as development time/cost and risk of failure are no longer as big of an issue. The realization of a true interconnected smart city or next-generation oil refinery made up of many individual applications is closer (and easier) than one might think, and it will be powered by the event-driven edge.
A Treasure Trove of Actionable Events
Looking for more on how the massive proliferation of sensors and edge devices are treasure troves of data and potentially actionable business events? Vantiq CTO and tech industry veteran Paul Butterworth discusses the growing need for edge computing, what a distributed model is, and how to manage running your operations on the edge in our whitepaper Distribution and Federation in Real-Time, Event-Driven Business Applications.