Why Azure IoT Edge Computing is in demand?

Aug 28, 2021
7 min read

In business industries, increased demands of digital platforms and remote working have resulted in high loads to the main data server. If you are looking for a reliable and intelligent solution to process data quickly on "Edge". Then, the best solution is to adopt IoT Edge computing or simply IoT Edge. According to G2company, the most trusted and largest software marketplace, Azure IoT Edge has been positioned top among the three IoT Edge solutions. So, here I will discuss the integration of IoT & Edge computing and why it is getting popular among business industries.

Introduction

For the last few years, you are using the word "smart" with most gadgets like smartphones, smart TV, smartwatch, smart home, smart speaker, smart coffee makers, and so on. Do you know, this word, 'smart,' came into existence because of the "Internet of Things" or IoT. Modern technology, IoT is connecting things (it is also called entities- phone, laptop, watch, and other electronic gadgets) using the internet with one main objective: enhance data communication and sharing.

As IoT technology has been rapidly developing, developers are integrating it with other modern technologies to bring innovative tech solutions for all businesses. When developers found that industrial companies are looking for an intelligent solution to process data at lower bandwidth and latency, they thought to combine the two concepts, IoT and Edge Computing (Edge)to provide this solution. This innovative integrated solution brought the concept, "IoT edge computing". The "Edge of Things" is another name for this concept.  Different tech companies provide this solution; although the biggest player in IT, Microsoft achieved success in offering the best IoT Edge solutions.

How? Let's discuss in this article. In the following sections, I am going to explain three main relevant concepts, the meaning of "IoT Edge Computing", its features, and how Azure IoT Edge Device is different from other IoT Edge devices.

Understanding IoT Edge Computing

IoT and Edge computing are not unfamiliar words among business industries. Still, people get confused to understand these terms. IoT converts a common device into an intelligent device, whereas Edge computing permits to process data nearer to data sources for reducing data bandwidth and latency. Edge computing permits the connected devices to process data where it is created and we call this place to "edge".

What is IoT Edge Computing?

Edge computing executes a few processes in the cloud platforms and shifts most processes to local places: edge server, user's devices, or IoT devices. In simple words, edge computing happens at the network's edge; decreasing the length and time of communication between client and server. Concerning business, edge refers to places where endpoint devices can access the network and its linked objects such as sensors, phones, computers, laptops, and robots.

IoT enables a new computing model, "Edge of Things" by integrating edge computing with itself. The concept of Edge of Things is creating Intelligent IoT edge computing resources that efficiently process huge sensor data at edge. It is reducing network bandwidth and latency along with storage costs on the cloud.

The self-driving car is a perfect example where both IoT and Edge computing technologies have been used. These cars are embedded with different sensors and security cameras that allow users to monitor the car. Besides, this car must respond in real-time rather than waiting to get instruction from a server. Edge computing ‘ local data processing feature helps the self-driving cars in making decisions at the time of need.

The IoT edge computing model permits autonomous operations at low bandwidth. It is known that the manufacturing industry can't stop various industrial operations because of network connection issues or data bandwidth issues. This model is supporting them to continue all necessary operations without considering the high bandwidth consumption or network availability.

According to the report, the industrial market is utilizing the Edge of Things to get benefits from both technologies. These intelligence resources results in high flexibility, scalability, and functionalities in system processes. In 2020, the industrial edge computing market was $11.6B, and it would reach up to  $30.8B by 2025.

IoT Edge Computing's general architecture

The architecture of any device connects different components to bring an integrated technology approach. IoT Edge architecture does the same and uses components to establish connections with IoT devices and edge computing technology. We all know that a gateway acts as a bridge between two devices or networks to allow transfer of information. IoT gateway plays the same role between IoT devices and cloud networks. IoT gateway permits different users to access diverse IoT devices/sensors and forward the accessed IoT data to its final place i.e., cloud. Thus, IoT Edge architecture forms an edge computing node that contains different modules: gateway, storage, and network. The node enables connectivity with IoT devices and cloud networks. Besides, it also performs data storage functions.

IoT Edge Computing's features

Offline availability of the network, reduced implementation cost, and instant response time are common features of an IoT Edge Computing model. The IoT Analytics, top market insight provider of IoT, Industry 4.0, and M2M has researched IoT Edge computing and provided its seven amazing features (Table 1):

Features

Benefits

Open Architecture

Reduce integration cost and enhances vendor interoperability because of Standard protocols and semantic data structure

Data pre-processing and filtering

Reduction in bandwidth cost

Edge analytics

Allows new use cases at lower bandwidth and higher output

Distributed applications

Decoupling permits horizontal and vertical expansion

Consolidated workloads

Use single hardware and reduces the physical footprint

Scalable deployment and management

Beneficial for administrative works

Secure connectivity

Establish trusts

Table 1: IoT Edge Computing's features

We all know that Microsoft and Amazon are two key IoT Cloud service providers and edge solutions. Google also declared to provide Cloud IoT Edge services that would focus to include Artificial Intelligence also at the edge. Microsoft is the first company to introduce "Azure IoT Edge" as an open project in all three. We will discuss it in the next sections.

Besides, multiple IoT Edge vendors are giving competition in the marketplace. Software AG is another leading IoT edge vendor to offer IoT edge computing solutions. The world's leading IT vendor and communication service provider, MachNation IoT test lab, studied 12 IoT Edge platforms and found Software AG's platform best out of 12.  The company is specialized in connecting lightweight embedded devices. Besides features like the ease in data analytics, connecting multiple things, quick IoT device management, growing edge ecosystem, and ready-to-use components make the company a top leader.

According to Microsoft, "Azure IoT Edge is fully managed IoT service built on Azure IoT hub". In other words, Azure IoT Edge is a technology to create IoT solutions that could use edge computing. It permits users to deploy cloud workloads of three services (AI, Azure & third party, application logic) and run it on IoT edge devices through standard containers. Also, IoT edge moves some workloads to the network's edge that automatically reduces interaction time with cloud, generates instance response on local changes, and operates offline.

Architecture

The architecture of Azure IoT Edge consists of three components: modules, runtime, and cloud-based interface. Each component is playing its role and making IoT Edge a unique solution. IoT Edge modules are nothing but containers used to run all services: third-party services, azure services, or own code. It has been deployed to IoT Edge devices but executed locally. The next component, IoT Edge runtime, has been installed on IoT Edge devices for managing modules of all these devices. And, last component, the cloud-based interface, performs monitoring and management of IoT Edge devices.

Source: Azure  IoT Edge Architecture

Partner companies

No single company can provide an integrated solution alone. Every company needs support from other companies. Thus, Microsoft followed the same. SAP, DJI, Qualcomm, and NVIDIA are its four major partners to offer Azure IoT Edge services. Each partnership has offered a unique solution. For instance, NVIDIA has been tied to provide real-time video analytics at edge. It converts all video feeds to sensor telemetry. Similarly, SAP has been associated with business functions, whereas DJI is good for high-end GPU-powered commercial drones. And Qualcomm is allowing to use its Snapdragon camera platform through the Vision AI developers Kit.

Standard Features behind the popularity

Microsoft developed Azure IoT Edge with some excellent features. Let’s a take look at those features briefly using the following points:

· Users can easily deploy the model in the cloud and execute it on local servers. It enables heavy workloads to the edge.

· Programmers and developers can use any programming language to develop the required device.

· Execution to edge is reducing the data transmission and maintenance costs to the cloud.

· Processing at IoT Edge enables to get an immediate response in real-time, and it further supports decision making.

· Users can easily operate at low connectivity or complete offline and synchronize it again through reconnection.

These features are attracting business depends on autonomous because of network latency, affordable costs, and security.

Latest Feature

Nesting Capabilities are the latest feature of Azure IoT Device. And, this feature is enabling users to nest IoT Edge devices and acquire data across networks designed hierarchically. The layer networks have been used in industries to provide security to critical assets. Also, ISA-95 suggests using this network as it makes assets isolations easy. The nesting capabilities of devices would permit end-users to resolve data acquisition issues from each network layer. We can check out detailed information about this new feature on this IoT Show where industry experts Emmanuel Bertrand and Onder Yildirim spoke about it and pointed out that nesting would increase efficiency and reduces unplanned downtime.

Recap

IoT and Edge, are two modern technologies that are bringing changes in business industries, especially manufacturing. After discussion, we can say that edge computing becomes a required technology to create any IoT solutions. The diversity of IoT and Edge provides benefits to end-users as it removes the need for different vendors for different technology solutions.  The high demand of heterogeneous computing for edge is contributing to the growth of IoT Edge computing models. Microsoft is already famous for offering cloud services, and Azure IoT Edge is increasing its brand. The company is updating devices regularly and adding features on IoT Edge. These regular updates are making Azure IoT Edge a trendy keyword.