2020 predictions for edge and serverless computing

New toolkits and platforms will bring maturity to edge and serverless in 2020

Kris Beevers
© Shutterstock / Romolo Tavani

Over the last few years, organizations across every vertical have felt pressure to embrace new technology and approaches—from cloud and edge computing to serverless—in order to compete in the growing digital economy. As we enter the new decade, modernization will continue to be a top priority.

As the technology becomes more sophisticated and new toolsets make adoption easier, enterprise leaders will have the opportunity to make infrastructure choices based on what is best for workloads operationally and in terms of future scalability. Let’s take a closer look at two approaches to computing—edge and serverless—that will have a significant impact on enterprise architecture moving forward.

Edge computing arrives—and begins to look like public cloud

There is a lot of hype around edge computing because, on the surface, it makes sense to move the code and the data close to end users in a highly distributed fashion. There are many benefits—security, performance, and resiliency—but organizations have struggled to make the most of the approach because so far there is no clear path to implementation that is both repeatable and scalable.

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What we have seen so far is an early scale-up ecosystem that will shake itself out over the next five years. Telecommunications companies have invested heavily in their edge strategy, providing micro data centers to support implementations, but the challenges with edge extend beyond having the compute resources. The way you build and manage an application that lives across a highly distributed edge infrastructure—thousands of nodes around the world—is very different from how you build an application that lives in a few data centers.

Organizations have to consider the impact on an application’s lifecycle and the complexity of managing consistent datasets. In terms of application delivery, they face challenges with observability, application performance monitoring and traffic steering across massive application footprints. This is why we see the most success in edge from sophisticated technology organizations building on top of open source or their own technology. Widespread adoption requires tools that make it easier to build and manage applications for the edge.

This gap between the infrastructure and DevOps is the space where we will really see investment grow over the next several years. We will see new platforms emerge with foundational services that will enable IT teams to build and manage highly distributed, edge-enabled applications. New tools and platforms will deliver the automation and intelligence necessary to make edge implementations repeatable and scalable. This innovation and subsequent M&A will lead to a more mature, standardized approach in edge computing that will be more easily adopted by organizations across all verticals and stages of technical maturity. By the end of the next decade, edge computing will look a lot like public cloud.

Serverless toolkit matures and converges with edge

Serverless has matured over the last year. With evolving serverless offerings and major investments from cloud darlings AWS, Microsoft, and Google alongside enterprise stalwarts like IBM and SAP, we’re seeing how serverless impacts the way applications are built and delivered. As the use cases have become clearer, the approach will continue to grow in popularity. The benefits are certainly appealing—cloud-like hyperscale without the management overhead allows engineers to focus more on coding and less on operations and upgrading infrastructure. This has led more companies to go “all in” and build on functions as a service.

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Moving into the next decade, we will see the serverless toolkit continue to mature with up-the-stack capabilities built on top of the foundational serverless tech that is already out there, such as AWS Lambda. We will also see more convergence between serverless and edge approaches with the major content delivery network (CDN) players taking advantage of their massive edge footprint on top of tools like WebAssembly. The upcoming year will be pivotal for these players as we discover whether or not the market demand will support the continued innovation in this space.

Kris Beevers
Kris Beevers is the co-founder and CEO of NS1. He leads NS1’s team of industry experts as they create products to enable companies to use DNS to build and deliver dynamic, distributed, and automated applications that delight users. Kris is a recognized authority on DNS and global application delivery, and often speaks and writes about building and deploying high performance, at scale, globally distributed internet infrastructure. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from RPI, and prior to founding and leading NS1, he built CDN, cloud, bare metal, and other infrastructure products at Voxel, which sold to Internap (NASDAQ:INAP) in 2011.

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