State of the Edge came to life back in 2018, 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 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 in 2020, then again in 2021, and yet again this year.
The 2022 State of the Edge report’s three overarching themes are connectivity, location, and application infrastructure. All three play a crucial role in the development of edge computing. It takes a close look at the broadband access gap, an issue that’s core to the future of some of the most promising edge computing use cases; it examines the ins and outs of translating cloud native principles of application development and infrastructure management to deploying and running software at the edge; and explores new physical locations where compute infrastructure is being deployed to answer the need for ever more distributed platforms, including both on the ground and in Earth’s orbit.
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 does not represent final answers. We’ve studied the market and put our best thinking into the 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