Edge computing heralds a new era of technology. The Edge works seamlessly with the cloud, enabling businesses to meet the challenges of this increasingly connected world where we all depend on applications that need to work anywhere, anytime. With Edge, the benefits of the cloud—lower costs, increased agility, ability to scale on demand, faster innovation—can be extended from the cloud to the exact locations where they are needed most.
This ability to put computing power where it’s needed has never been more important. It also has significant implications for accelerating the deployment of IoT and our ability to truly take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Any app or industry that can benefit from lower latency, higher availability, and greater privacy—from self-driving cars, robotic operations, and smart factories to predictive maintenance and multiplayer online gaming—can benefit. All of this requires massive amounts of data to be available on demand, regardless of geographic location.
The combination of cloud, hybrid and edge already meets the needs of today’s companies, such as B. the demand for low latency, caching, local data processing and even data residency requirements with a localized on-premises/onsite component. Endless uses include smart highways, SaaS web applications, medical imaging, and the need for services like Hulu and Netflix to serve customers instantly, on demand, and without latency issues.
Here, life on the edge allows for the best of both worlds. Edge computing gives organizations the same infrastructure, services, APIs, and tools they use in the cloud, where they need it most. Behind the scenes, this merging of cloud, hybrid, and edge pulls many moving parts together and can be dauntingly complex for developers and IT admins in organizations trying to make it happen on their own. That’s why AWS creates a consistent, secure experience across environments—and it enables its customers to continue to innovate.
One of the most dynamic companies driving these processes, Couchbase is a next-generation database company and an AWS customer. Couchbase uses the AWS services they need in AWS Regions and AWS Local Zones to bring the data and analytics needs of digital-forward companies closer to their end users. For the past decade, Couchbase has been at the forefront of the edge computing revolution, reimagining the way data is distributed and in the process creating one of the world’s most ambitious and robust systems for managing information.
Organizations in almost every industry have used Couchbase’s technology to build mission-critical apps and services to offer customers the highest guarantees of speed, availability, and data stewardship.
Here, Wayne CarterVice President of Engineering at Couchbase, discusses how Edge is expanding the possibilities for innovation, how it enables systems to follow users as they switch between up to 40 different networks every day, and why “latency is the enemy” but victory is in view is .
How has edge computing changed in the last decade?
Wayne Carter: When I started at Couchbase in 2013, the core edge devices were cell phones, connecting to self-managed data centers at the edge. Now the major cloud computing platforms are stretching to the edge, allowing enterprises to take advantage of edge computing without having to manage highly distributed infrastructure. This means instead of having to run all your own systems, there are now infrastructure companies like AWS and database companies like Couchbase that you can outsource pretty much anything to. Running workloads and accessing data at edge locations is now much easier and cheaper, opening up a whole new set of businesses.
You said that Edge creates new ways of thinking about data. As?
The Edge allows us to decentralize data and bring it close to every user so it’s available incredibly quickly, whether that’s on a cell phone, a point of sale system, a package scanner, or that isolated digital system you might find on an airplane. By combining the power of edge and cloud, you guarantee that machines not only have access to the data they need, but that the data they collect is ultimately passed to the rest of the system. Taken together, we see significant improvements for digital products and experiences.
Couchbase and AWS both offer services to help businesses manage their edge computing needs. What do companies have when they turn to these providers instead of doing it themselves?
Most companies want to free their developers from operational work to focus on higher value projects. When you reduce the operational responsibility of your application teams, they can iterate faster and focus on building applications on these new, faster, and more available systems. You save the cost of running your own hardware and you get rid of the complexities of maintaining the hardware and keeping the underlying software stack and tool base healthy and up to date. This is a great advantage for application teams. All of this allows them to focus on their core product, iterate faster, and deploy to the cloud and edge in minutes, all on systems that are automatically maintained and scaled.
For consumers, latency can show up as things like a spinning circle that pops up when downloading a movie at home. But inconveniences aside, what’s the real impact of latency?
Latency is a measure of a network’s response time, the time it takes from a user requesting data until the data is delivered, measured in milliseconds. A quarter-second difference in response time sounds small, but if you’re performing five million data transactions in a day, 250 milliseconds for each one adds up to about 14 days of lost time – actually time you gain – which could also be called lost revenue to be viewed as. So yes, latency is the enemy. It can be a huge drain on your bottom line. The goal is to achieve latency in the single-digit millisecond range.
What are the best ways to keep latency low?
In general, the closer the computer and database are to the user, the faster the response. AWS offers a comprehensive range of edge services for different scenarios. putting a AWS Outpost On-premises rack or servers can reduce latency. AWS Local Zones offer very fast, low-latency servers in large metropolitan areas where businesses may not have space to run their own data center. AWS wavelength is integrated with 5G cellular systems, which also brings the computer close to the user.
A key element of edge computing is creating a consistent experience from edge to cloud. What is an example of how this works?
When it comes to network complexity, databases and the edge, the aviation industry immediately springs to mind. Airlines operate a whole range of parallel processes – very different things – sometimes side by side, sometimes across the country, sometimes on an airplane 30,000 feet over the middle of the Atlantic. They manage ticketing, customer service, maintenance systems, in-flight entertainment, AI chatbots and point-of-sale systems both on board and in the terminal. They also feed almost all of their employees with real-time data as their employees move through up to 40 networks every day. Everything must work smoothly while complying with access, control and regulation regulations. And you need to know that you are moving your data safely and responsibly. That is much! Outsourcing the huge costs and operational complexities of running these systems has proven extremely attractive to airlines.
Do you have a favorite piece of edge infrastructure, in terms of functionality or what it enables?
It’s typically not a single edge offering, but rather how a combination of edge services work together to provide a truly distributed edge environment. For example, if you have both Wavelength and Local Zones in one area, you have two separate options for single-digit millisecond latencies, giving you a seamless connection between the AWS cloud and your edge systems, allowing the same code to run in one or both places. I also love the idea of combining AWS Private 5G and the Snow family devices. You could literally put a smart factory in the middle of the wilderness with no reliable connection to the internet and run everything on your own 5G network with massive local computing power on AWS. This may sound like an extreme example, but it is actually not that different from everyday life on airplanes and cruise ships. And even if you’re just a do-it-yourselfer on a farm, getting this kind of full stack from Amazon and Couchbase isn’t prohibitively expensive. It’s a world-class system, it’s available off the shelf and it’s paid for as you need it.
Last question. Can you share something about the importance of your cloud provider solution?
Finding the right cloud provider was critical to our success. We chose AWS because they had options that weren’t available on anyone else. They offer a continuum of services from the cloud to the edge that can span a range of different locations and environments. With AWS, our customers can use the same database to manage their edge and cloud applications, giving them amazing consistency for their applications wherever they run. For example, when these airline workers make their 40-network back-and-forth switches — moving in and out of networks, joining the European cloud, then joining the North American cloud, moving in and out of private networks — all connectivity becomes automatically resolved. The applications simply run over the network and the database absorbs all network disruptions so you are not affected. The combination of AWS hybrid edge solutions with Couchbase’s database products enables a new class of applications that are faster and more available than ever before. And this is the ball game. The most important thing you want for your business is for it to be up and running and fast.