Where is the edge? All over the place, one might say, based on the perceptions of various participants in the content and data ecosystem.
"Web scale players think the edge means regional colocation data centers, hundreds or even thousands of kilometers away from the user,” says Joe Madden, Mobile Experts principal analyst.
Mobile operators see the edge as a location between 2 km and 100 km away from any end user.
REITs and micro data center supporters see the Edge close to the radio towers, less than 5 km from most users. Enterprises think that the edge needs to be in-building or at the client device.
All those definitions might have relevance for different edge use cases.
And that also means edge computing real estate can have very different footprints. An infrastructure edge data center at the base of a cell tower might look like this Vapor.io deployment.
At other locations, where computing demand is expected to be higher, one might see more than one cargo-container-sized physical buildings.
Enterprise sites might use a relatively standard cabinet with server racks on the premises.
Much hinges on the business model and the use case. Advertising apps might well be just fine with a regional approach, as latency is not much of an issue for many advertising requirements. Infrastructure edge will make sense for latency sensitive apps outside of main enterprise locations.
Large enterprises often will be able to use on-the-premises edge computing. Right now, it is impossible to quantify the size of revenue opportunities for edge computing “as a service” providers. Lots of servers will be installed, of course. Lots of electrical power will be used. New structures, with racks, air conditioning and electrical supply, will be needed.
So the picks and shovels will be busy. Revenue for edge computing services will take a longer time to build.