Just about 16 months ago, State of the Edge came to life in a conversation over beers. It was a heady time. Edge computing was just emerging into a mainstream niche. Thought leaders and futurists were staking claims, vendors were slapping “edge” onto their products to stay relevant, and very few people even had agreed-upon definitions for even the most basic terms in the industry. The joke at the time was: If you ask 100 people to define edge, you’ll get 112 different answers.
It was in that environment that we birthed the original State of the Edge as a vendor-neutral white paper on edge computing researched and published by a small but passionate group of companies. The organization had an editorial mission. We sought to align and educate, not generate leads or advance people through a sales funnel. It was an experiment, but it worked.
Companies, non-profits, journalists, analysts, and the community at large applauded our efforts, embraced our neutrality and lent their support. Encouraged by the reception, we redoubled our efforts this year, as we prepared this 2020 report.
What We’ve Accomplished Since Last Year
- Membership in State of the Edge has tripled.
- We published our first single-topic report Data at the Edge.
- The Open Glossary of Edge Computing has become the standard-bearer of a shared edge lexicon.
- It is now in its v2.x version as an open source project to anchor The Linux Foundation’s LF Edge.
- The Edge Landscape has also become an open source project under the auspices of the LF Edge’s Open Glossary.
Sizing the Opportunity
One of the most consistent questions posed by our peers has been a very simple one: how big will the edge be? When will it explode? These are important questions. The answers impact our business strategies. How fast we should move and how much we should invest depends in large part on what we expect to get in return.
Business planners responsible for edge computing turn to expensive market research reports to help make decisions, hoping that someone else has divined the future. Some of these reports are of dubious quality, but you can’t really determine that without dropping a few grand to get a copy. And when you examine these reports, frustration often ensues as you realize that each analyst reaches wildly different conclusions, derived from different models, using different definitions of edge.
State of the Edge does not seek to replace the dozens of third party market reports, many of which are surely worth the fees they request. Nonetheless, we do see an opportunity for a community-supported research model, especially to fill gaps in the available research.
There is No Finish Line
Edge computing represents a long-term transformation of the Internet that could take decades to fully materialize. This year’s State of the Edge report and its forecast model do not represent final answers; instead, they represent an early start to a robust conversation. We’ve studied the market and put our best thinking into this report—but we welcome feedback, comments, and suggestions. Please join the conversation, consider building upon or adding to the content we present, and help State of the Edge continue to advance the industry with well-researched, vendor-neutral thought leadership.
Matt Trifiro & Jacob Smith
Co-chairs, State of the Edge