Edge to reduce trust, increase energy use and drive social division: Forrester

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Edge to reduce trust, increase energy use and drive social division: Forrester

The future of edge computing will reduce trust, create negative sustainability externalities and drive societal division, according to new Forrester research.

According to Forrester, edge computing is defined as, “A family of technologies that distribute application data and services where they can best optimise outcomes in a growing set of locations and connected assets.”

In other words, enabling “workloads to run where they run best”.

Despite the far-reaching benefits of the edge, including efficiency and connectivity, Forrester’s report “The Future of Edge Computing” reveals that edge computing will drive complexity and increase trust scarcity.

Trust scarcity

“As businesses recognise the trust imperative, edge computing technology will make trust harder to come by. Edge computing’s immaturity will make many smart products more complicated and harder to support,” the report says.

With multiple network connections across a range of devices, servers and micro data centres, edge computing will open up new attack surfaces for hackers, the authors state.

“Edge processing of video imagery will exacerbate regional differences in privacy attitudes and regulations.”

The need for multiple vendors, through vendor-vendor and vendor-enterprise partnerships also creates complexity.

“In the near term, no single vendor will provide and support all technologies for any edge business scenario.”

Sustainability

While sustainability benefits such as improving the power efficiency of buildings and the efficient use of land and water are environmental and economic benefits of edge computing, the report reveals that the edge will create as many negative sustainability issues as it solves, as it uses more energy and heat than cloud computing, and creates more electronic waste.

“Emissions from cloud computing data centres now exceed those of pre-COVID-19 air travel, according to a report from The Shift Project, a French think tank. And edge computing requires a lot more hardware, everywhere, supported by every business.”

While zero-power computing is one potential solution to this problem down the track, the authors believe that in the short-term computer density restrictions imposed by governments will restrict the progress of many initiatives.

Societal division

Expensive set-up costs and variances in connectivity availability may cause digital disparities and widen societal division gaps according to the report.

“Edge-enabled smart cities with higher costs of living will attract the affluent. More digital services and opportunity in urban centres could drive an even bigger wedge between the haves and the have-nots,” the report says.

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