Edge computing: the next computing lanscape transformation?

Peter Levine, a partner at a16z, recently claimed that edge computing will replace cloud computing (check it out).  He argues that this is because the Internet of Things will greatly increase demands for real-time computing, which is hard or impossible to do with centralized cloud computing.

For example, if an autonomous car “sees” a stop sign, it will not have time to wait for some centralized cloud server to respond – by the time this response comes, the car will already have overrun the stop sign.
Using data obtained via Mergeflow, we tested if we can see evidence supporting Levine’s claims that edge computing is on the rise. If Levine is right, we should see indications such as investments (e.g. VC or research funding); increases in scientific publications, patents, or news; and important players (e.g. companies) becoming involved with edge computing.

Over time, as shown in the graphs below, the number of investments in the Internet of Things and edge computing have increased.

Edge Computing

Internet of Things

Let’s look at some investments in the edge computing area: Silexica, for instance, provides a software engineering framework that helps software developers program multicore hardware platforms. Vasona Networks and Saguna Networks focus on mobile edge computing. We also found out that Saguna and Intel are using mobile edge computing, with the goal of improving mobile network performance and profitability (read more). Another company, FogHorn, is developing an edge computing software platform that supports automation and operational efficiency. It may also be interesting to note that Bosch Venture Capital is an investor at FogHorn.

In addition to investments, Mergeflow indicates a raise of industry news in edge computing, starting around 2015:

Industry news

Some of these news talk about the Edge Computing Consortium, a cooperative platform initiated by Intel, Huawei and others.

Edge computing also plays an important role in the energy space. For instance, AutoGrid, a distributed energy network, won an award for energy productivity innovation (check it out).

Mergeflow also indicates a rise in scientific publications related to edge computing. For instance, Yuyi Mao from Hong Kong University did a survey concluding that a shift in mobile computing is inevitable – especially due to the vision of Internet of Things and 5G communications. His research statement reflects what Levine claims: there will be a paradigm shift from the centralized Mobile Cloud Computing towards Mobile Edge Computing.

To sum up, Mergeflow does show several data points indicating that Peter Levine is probably right. And note that for this post we only looked at “edge computing” in a very narrow sense. We did not look at adjacent or enabling technologies. So if anything, we may have underestimated, not overestimated, the importance of edge computing.