How Intelligent Edge Changes the World of Compute


Going forward, the latency-free power of the intelligent edge will help companies realize the promise of digital transformation and more.

The first compute I ever did was on a Sinclair computer. The very first work I did after college was on a DEC PDP II.  That ages me. Nine months after my first PDP II experience, DEC came out with its DEC Rainbow desktop, and then I watched how EDI changed the way we moved money around the globe. Something that PayPal now does near instantly from a cell phone. That was the 1980’s. Change, rapid evolution to how we compute is a common part of our world.  It has gone forward very fast since the 1980s using aspects of Moore’s law and Metcalfe’s law. Sometimes these laws work at the same time (the internet), and sometimes these laws of compute work on their own (Intel). Now it is time for intelligent edge to play a role.

The intelligent edge is a fundamental shift in compute in ways we have never really seen before for five simple reasons. It is not just a next step in compute. It is a transformational moment that changes the way we should be thinking, developing, and looking to operate on an intelligent edge that will have more than half of all compute occur on it by 2022, according to Gartner. Nothing in the history of compute since ENIAC will have that much compute in it relative to the world around it since 1946. Think about that statement for a moment. 

Here are the five reasons why the intelligent edge and its compute power is a revolution in compute never experienced before. This compute puts the software and infrastructure right next to where the compute occurs, globally. 

1. The idea of digital transformation just got turbo-boosted by the intelligent edge 

97.5% of all CEOs (global 2000 companies) get the idea behind why they should digitally transform. In contrast, the process is slow, with only 11.4% getting across that digital transformation chasm a year since 2013 (Forbes and Economist Intelligence Unit). It’s clear that Covid-19 has accelerated the obvious desires and actions to 19% a year (US and China). The desire to transform, the clarity of the opportunities around us all make this one of the top strategic objectives for any company.  The intelligent edge, its latency-free capabilities, and its near-global compute accessibility means real-time problems, opportunities or challenges can be solved in ways never available before. Look at the words from the CMO of AT&T business when he talks about the power of 5G and the intelligent edge. 

“When I think about ten years from now and this rate of explosion of everything being connected to everything, we know, right? We know, and we see the technology is there today that will enable everything to talk to everything and use machine learning and AI, artificial intelligence, to help us both in our daily lives as well as creating a safer and more productive, more efficient environment for everyone living in America and then over time across the world. So, you pull up to a gas pump, and your car talks to…Or an electric pump even, right?

What was once a dream is now a practical reality on that intelligent edge.”

Mo Katibeh: CMO AT&T business on Forbes focus in future podcast on 5G

That idea alone is so attractive to executives it motivates a desire to lean into the intelligent edge in a way digital transformation alone had struggled to spur deep actions with. Before the intelligent edge, digital transformation was a slowly forming process.  With the intelligent edge, it is an inevitability.

2. We live in a complete data world on the intelligent edge

Mass personalization of experiences from how each of us experiences healthcare to how we each drive our vehicles’ to how networks are being managed is all driven by the power of data to be computed in latency-free worlds around us.   We each get to experience the power of the intelligent edge in tens or hundreds of ways each day. That high-frequency experience is what will make it a common part of our lives far faster than ever before. Nothing has had that speed of migration to such a massive compute so fast.  It’s because, as companies, citizens and consumers, we have accepted that the need to live with and around data is the expected norm. Computing it just became incredibly more powerful with the intelligent edge.

3. Ultra-low latency amplifies compute power

The value of data is best delivered when the decisions or the compute is occurring. Imagine getting feedback on the freshness of produce three weeks after it has been delivered to a grocery store. Imagine walking around a healthcare facility from one practitioner to another in a totally unfamiliar building, under duress and getting a notification on your cell phone that you should turn left in ten feet to meet Dr. Gray, and Dr. Gray gets the same notification to meet you as you pass the door and she has you immediate test results in front of her from ten minutes ago?  That’s the power of telemetry data, computed in real time on the intelligent edge. That’s the power of 5G on the intelligent edge as the data is processed in the cloud and sent directly to Dr. Gray’s phone.  Ultra-low latency and the intelligent edge will and does deliver incredible value in ways we could never have imagined before.  That is the power of compute and why we will never look back.

4. AI infusion everywhere

There is too much data or compute for humans to process and work with.  The use of AI to build or automate processes on this intelligent edge is the only way to get the sort of real digital scale necessary to take advantage of the intelligent edge. It is the only way to facilitate the power of the intelligent edge in agriculture or energy or cyber defense or with industrial co robots.  Without AI, the intelligent edge is an additive compute platform.  With AI, the power of the intelligent edge is truly unleashed.

5. A seismic generational shift makes this a logical next step

In 2020 Millennials around the world became the largest portion of the global workforce. Born between 1981 and 1996, they have experienced personal technology at every level.  They expect latency-free. They see compute as being everywhere, and they have fully embraced and led the digital transformation of society.  The intelligent edge is the next inevitable leap for their devices, their applications, and their daily experiences.

We will have over 40B devices working on a daily basis all around us. The intelligent edge, the compute power of the intelligent edge by 2025, will mean that 80% of all data will be computed there in latency-free time that functions quicker than the human brain.  We will not turn to any other form of compute in the near future because it will not be able to compete with the latency-free power of the intelligent edge where AI, personalization, fulfilled promises of digital transformation, and generational expectations will be realized.

The intelligent edge, infused with AI, is here to stay in a transformational way.

Michael Gale

About Michael Gale

Michael Gale is Chief Marketing Officer for Wind River. He oversees marketing strategy and execution for the company. He is a top 10 global AI influencer (Thinkers 360), as well as a Wall Street Journal best-selling author of the number–one–selling book on digital transformation, The Digital Helix. For more than 25 years, Gale has focused on building world-class, leading-edge digital experiences, from serving as chief web officer at Micron to his leadership roles at Monitor Group and PulsePoint Group.

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