Predictions 2020: Edge computing makes the leap

Investment in edge computing will jump next year as organizations look to handle AI-related computing demand. Read analyst Abhijit Sunil's 2020 predictions for this rapidly growing technology.
Written by Forrester Research, Contributor

The emerging category of edge computing has been steadily rising in importance and maturity, and 2020 will be the most interesting year yet for vendors and users in this exciting space. Fifty-seven percent of mobility decision-makers surveyed in the Forrester Analytics Global Business Technographics Mobility Survey, 2019, said they have edge computing on their roadmap for the next 12 months, which is significant when considering how recently edge computing arrived in the sphere of technology evolution.

So what's going to happen in 2020 for edge computing? Our inaugural predictions brief on edge computing provides a detailed analysis, but here is a sneak peek at some of the predictions:

  • In 2020, fit, form, and function will drive development of custom form factors. Edge computing is characterized by the variety in applicable use cases in multiple industries. Unique demands of compute, storage, and networking for each use case will drive the development of custom form factors, right from the processor level. One example that we see already is HPE leading a Series C investment of up to $145 million with former Cisco CEO John Chambers' startup Pensando Systems, which is bringing to market a custom programmable processor optimized for edge computing.
  • The edge cloud service market will grow by at least 50%. Public megacloud providers, telecommunication companies, platform software providers, content delivery networks, and data center colocation providers are innovating to provide basic infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and advanced cloud-native programming services on distributed edge computing infrastructure. The goal of these vendors is to offer IaaS and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) services that run independently of or with only intermittent connectivity to public cloud and data center assets. In 2020, this nascent market will begin to see explosive growth.
  • Companies will choose multi-vendor packaged solutions over single vendors. Due to ubiquitous bandwidth and connectivity limitations, maintaining edge computing platforms will drive organizations to work with integrators to support their edge computing solutions instead of building and deploying their own. This is applicable across industries including retail, manufacturing, and transportation and logistics. The following exhibit by Principal Analyst Andre Kindness from a 2017 Forrester report, "Pick The Right IoT Network Strategy," helps illustrate this.

According to our survey, the biggest benefits organizations seek from edge computing include flexibility to handle present and future artificial intelligence demands and the fact that computing at the edge avoids network latency and allows faster responses. Following this are use cases generated due to a need for edge computing to conduct complex processing that cloud can't support, fueled by the proliferation of connected devices.

Among the key takeaways of the report is that companies will step up investment in edge computing. "The Forrester Tech Tide: Compute Platforms, Q4 2019," which compares all contemporary computing platforms, lists edge computing as an invest strategy for organizations. That trend will continue in 2020. The expansion in edge computing investment is driven by the growing maturity of edge platforms, the parallel advent of supporting technologies such as 5G and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, and increasing use cases for analytics and machine learning.

To get a more detailed analysis of the five predictions we're making for edge computing in 2020, read the full report.

Download Forrester's Predictions 2020 guide to understand the major dynamics that will impact firms next year.

This post was written by Analyst Abhijit Sunil, and originally appeared here.

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