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How edge computing impacts data infrastructure strategies

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With the exponential growth in enterprise data from a proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, cameras, sensors, and other devices, companies are increasingly turning to edge computing. 

Indeed, research firm Gartner notes that “more than 90% of enterprises start with a single unique use case for edge computing; over time, a typical enterprise will have many.”

VentureBeat spoke with David Sprinzen, VP of marketing at Vantiq about what is driving interest in edge computing, and what organizations need to do to be successful in this environment.

Vantiq is a low-code application development platform for building and deploying real-time edge-to-cloud solutions. The platform enables developers to quickly create distributed intelligence for systems such as smart buildings, smart cities, and smart grids/energy management. It also enables the monitoring of physical safety and security, ultimately digitizing and automating business operations.

VentureBeat: What is driving growing interest in edge computing, and what types of organizations are most likely to embrace it?

David Sprinzen: There are three key reasons why companies are moving to the edge:

  1. It decreases response latency by bringing computing power out in the environment
  2. It increases the level of security and sovereignty of data by keeping it on local premises rather than transmitting sensitive data through the cloud, which reduces the attack surface
  3. 3.It can address the explosion of data coming off of enterprise systems and sensors by filtering and processing that data locally

Reasons 1 and 2 are the primary market drivers for edge computing at the moment. But research firm Gartner cites the third reason as the primary driver for edge computing over the next few years. This is due to the proliferation of data across enterprises.

In fact, Gartner claims that by 2025, more than 75% of all enterprise data will be processed on the edge. That is a tectonic shift in the way businesses must build and think about their data systems.

Edge computing will serve virtually all industries. Early leaders are being driven by requirements of computationally intensive technologies such as computer vision. For example:

  • Manufacturing – in manufacturing facilities, AI is being used to detect errors across the assembly line.
  • Retail – retailers are building customer applications that require imperceptible latency for things like routing within a store and helping customers find items on their shopping list, as well as augmented reality experiences.
  • Utilities/naturally distributed resources – utilities companies need to distribute the processing and management of their systems out into the field, both for the performance benefits that come from enabling computing to happen locally, and for resiliency and reliability, where, if connectivity is lost in remote locations, the application will still run without the need to communicate with the cloud.

VB: How does adopting edge computing practices typically impact an organization’s existing systems and applications?

Sprinzen: There are two phases to leveraging edge computing. Phase one is a “cloud-out” approach, where you take what you’re doing on the cloud and move it to the edge. This should improve performance and decrease latency. While this is a valid approach, it will only deliver incremental benefits.

Phase two is considered an “edge-in” approach. Here, systems and applications are built specifically for the edge. This means they are edge-native and can fully take advantage of distributed computing. With this approach, you can still bring data into the cloud as needed. But the edge is the primary computational resource for the system and delivers a full range of benefits as discussed above.

VB: What are the top benefits, and limitations, of edge computing practices?

Sprinzen: By moving to the edge, businesses can become much more aware and reactive to what is happening in their environments. That, in turn, enables them to unlock new operational efficiencies and become more effective with the resources they have.

At the same time, there are a couple of major challenges when it comes to building or deploying edge solutions. One is that you must pick the right kind of edge infrastructure to match the type of application you are developing. 

For example, you can run applications on the device edge, also known as the far edge, such as with an AI-enabled smart camera. Or you could have local servers that are doing the processing, such as a computer that’s running the factory. Or you could have network edge MECs (Mobile Edge Computing). These are basically mini-clouds that have significantly more processing power but may be shared across many applications and tenants. 

In other words, you have to think about what infrastructure you need for different applications. That includes deciding if must purchase that hardware, or if there are existing resources available such as a Telco MEC. Then you need to optimize where pieces of the application need to run and exactly how much computing resources they will need. 

It should also be noted that in the cloud you have vertical scalability which can easily spin up or down as applications require additional vCPUs. Edge hardware is resource constrained. That means you need much more visibility into what resources are available and how they are being used.

The other factor that edge computing introduces is one of location, as you now have a physical location of the compute hardware. 

With cloud computing, you don’t have to think about the location of where processing is occurring. But with the edge, you do. This is especially true when it comes to applications that are dealing with things that are moving, such as tracking expensive assets or communicating with vehicles.

In an edge-enabled computing environment, it’s not just a matter of what should be on the edge, but which edge it should be on and how the workloads get migrated between computing locations.

VB: What role do edge-native applications play in successful adoption, and what are they all about?

Sprinzen: In the same way that cloud-native technology is required to fully take advantage of the cloud, edge-native technology and applications are required to fully take advantage of the edge. You need architecture, data models, a flexible topology, and communication strategies to handle distributed rather than centralized computing. Application development platforms that are built to distribute across many edge devices are going to streamline and simplify how you’re able to take advantage of the edge.

VB: What are the most important things that data infrastructure professionals should know about edge-native applications?

Sprinzen: Let’s consider what makes an application edge-native. One of the requirements is that it’s easily partitioned across many different locations. To enable that you need loose coupling between the different nodes in the network. That requires an event-driven architecture to handle many nodes that are all communicating asynchronously with one another.

Alternatively, if you have tight coupling, as in the case of request response, the system is dependent on the weakest link. If a node goes down, the whole system can be interrupted. 

An event-driven architecture enables asynchronous communication directly between nodes in the network. That provides greater flexibility in terms of where your processing is occurring, and resiliency if anything goes down.

A traditional three-tier client/server database will fundamentally not work for a many-node distributed edge-enabled environment. The database is really good if you have everything centralized because there’s one place of record. 

But the moment you’re dealing with a distributed application there is no such thing as centralization. You must be able to do things autonomously between different nodes. Trying to manage a database across that will introduce concurrency issues. 

Ultimately, when you have information distributed across different nodes in the network that are all trying to compete with one another, a database-oriented model will not work.

VB: What benefits do leaders at edge computing enjoy that other organizations do not?

Sprinzen: There is a common thread among organizations that are emerging as leaders in using the edge. They tend to also be leaders in the way that they’re leveraging technology to optimize and automate business operations. The edge becomes the frontier of how digital systems are going to start serving the operational needs of companies because it allows you to focus on more than just IT.

Much research has been done that points to the edge being the missing piece in the puzzle in enabling the massive convergence between IT and OT. In this case, IT is the digital systems and data backbone, and OT is the day-to-day operations. OT provides the reactivity, the situational awareness of what’s happening in the business, and the ability to automate parts of daily operations.

The edge becomes the intersection of those two domains. It enables an organization to merge technologies like the cloud, IoT, AI, and business applications, with the operational side of the organization. This intersection requires technology that can handle the real-time asynchronous nature of distributed applications.

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Web3 and the transition toward true digital ownership 

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Web3 and the transition toward true digital ownership 

NFT Marketplace and Decentralized Exchange Concept - A Marketplace for Non-fungible Tokens Based on New Web3 and Blockchain Technology - 3D Illustration

Image Credit: ArtemisDiana/Getty

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How do you think you would answer if I asked you the following question: What do you own online?” 

In real life, you own your home, the car you drive, the watch you wear, and anything else you have purchased. But do you own your email address or your business’s website? How about the pictures that populate your Instagram account? Or the in-game purchases on Fortnite or FIFA video games or whatever else you are playing? 

My best guess is, after casting your mind through the things you use the internet for (which for everybody is pretty much everything, social and professional), you would struggle to find a solid answer. 

Maybe you would ask me to explain what I mean by “ownership.” But it doesn’t really matter. And while I don’t mean this to be a trick question, it kind of is. Because in the current version of the internet, we don’t have ownership rights online

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Digital ownership: Participants and products 

To understand why we don’t own anything online, we must first understand the evolution of the internet and how it gave rise to the business model that has dominated its current iteration. 

In the 1990s — the decade of desktop computers and dial-up connections — the internet was predominantly a content delivery network consisting of simple static websites showcasing information. What we refer to today as Web1 was slow, siloed, and disorganized. 

Next came the platforms, such as Facebook (now Meta) and Google, driven by wireless connectivity and the development of handheld devices like laptops, smartphones, and tablets, which gave us free-to-use services that enabled us to edit, interact with and generate content. These platforms centralized the web, putting in place a top-down structure that saw users reliant on their systems and services. 

This evolution of the internet took place in the mid-2000s and is the version we know today. We call it Web2. It is a model based on connectivity and user-generated content, made in the image and interests of companies like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. 

In this environment, netizens are both participants and products. We sign up for services in exchange for our data, which is sold to advertisers, and we create content that generates value and fuels engagement for these platforms. We do all this while having no rights to anything online.

Our social media profiles can be taken down and our access to email accounts or messenger apps suspended. We don’t own any of the digital assets we purchase and have no autonomy over our data. Businesses we build online are often reliant on platforms and are therefore vulnerable to algorithms, data breaches and shadow bans. 

The deck is stacked against us. Because the option not to be involved, when so much of the commerce and communication in the world takes place online, is not really an option at all. And yet there is nothing that we can point to and call ours. Nothing we have any actual authority over.

And, it is this dynamic that Web3 is determined to change. 

Web3 and the “internet of value” 

Right now, when most people hear the term “Web3” they probably think “metaverse”. But a better way to think about Web3 is as the evolution of the internet. 

Today, the digital experience is very corporate and very centralized. Web3 will offer the dynamic, app-driven user experience of the current mobile web in a decentralized model, shifting the power from big tech back to the users. It will do this by spreading the data outward — putting it back in the hands of netizens who are then free to use, share and monetize it as they see fit — and expanding the scale and scope of interactions between users and the internet. 

Underpinning that expansion will be guaranteed access, which means anyone can use any service without permissions and no one can block, restrict or remove any user’s access. 

The idea then is that Web3 will not only be more egalitarian but that it will create an “Internet of Value” because the value generated by the web will be shared much more equitably between users, companies, and services, with much better interoperability. Users will have full ownership, authority, and control over both the content they create and their data. But how will this help us transition toward true digital ownership? 

NFTs hold the key to digital ownership 

The truth is that digital ownership is not too hard a problem to solve. And we already have the solution: NFTs. 

In the public consciousness, NFTs are known for the projects that have garnered the most media attention, such as CryptoPunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club. While projects such as these have catapulted the term into the zeitgeist, the usefulness of the underlying technology has been much less discussed. 

Simply put, NFTs act as proof of ownership. The details of the NFT’s holder are recorded on the blockchain, all transactions and transfers are tracked and transparent and available to the public, and everything is managed by the token’s unique ID and metadata.

So, how does this work in practice? Let’s say I create an NFT. As soon as I upload it, a “smart contract” is created that tracks its creation, the current owner, and the royalties I will receive. If someone decides to purchase it, they own that NFT and any additional perks that come with ownership. Their details are registered on the blockchain and nobody can edit or remove them. 

Now, let’s say that the market for my NFTs starts to heat up, demand grows and the value of my collection begins to rise. If the owner decides to sell, they make a profit and I earn a small royalty from the resale. The change in ownership is tracked on-chain in real-time and the smart contract ensures my royalty fee is deposited directly in my wallet. This is the key value proposition of NFTs: Verifiable ownership and the option to liquidate digital assets. 

What’s next for Web3? 

This is what ownership looks like in Web3. It is the promise that netizens will be able to own their digital assets in the same way that they own their home, car and watch. NFTs will usher in a more equitable digital economy and will play a central role in the future of digital commerce. 

The fact is that as of right now, we are still writing the Web3 rulebook. This is still a very new, very young space. And while few things are certain, what we can say for sure is that the internet is only moving in one direction: ownership. 

The guiding principle in Web3 is to accelerate the transition towards a more equitable digital environment. It is very much opt-in, an internet built by the people for the people. It is one in which ownership is the foundation upon which new products, networks, and experiences are being built. And it is fundamental to establishing the internet of value. 

Over the next few years, as Web3 develops it will operate alongside Web2. The infrastructure supporting Web2 is very strong and I don’t see us completely shifting away from that any time soon. However, in the medium-to long-term, Web3 will completely reshape our relationship with the internet.

Filip Martinsson is cofounder and chief operating officer of Moralis.

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Apple blocked the latest Telegram update over a new animated emoji set

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Apple blocked the latest Telegram update over a new animated emoji set

Ever since Apple launched the App Store, developers big and small have gotten caught up in the company’s approval process and had their apps delayed or removed altogether. The popular messaging app Telegram is just the latest, according to the company’s CEO Pavel Durov. On August 10th, Durov posted a message to his Telegram channel saying the app’s latest update had been stuck in Apple’s review process for two weeks without any real word from the company about why it was held up. 

As noted by The Verge, the update was finally released yesterday, and Durov again took to Telegram to discuss what happened. The CEO says that Apple told Telegram that it would have to remove a new feature called Telemoji, which Durov described as “higher quality vector-animated versions of the standard emoji.” He included a preview of what they would look like in his post — they’re similar to the basic emoji set Apple uses, but with some pretty delightful animations that certainly could help make messaging a little more expressive. 

“This is a puzzling move on Apple’s behalf, because Telemoji would have brought an entire new dimension to its static low-resolution emoji and would have significantly enriched their ecosystem,” Durov wrote in his post. It’s not entirely clear how this feature would enrich Apple’s overall ecosystem, but it still seems like quite the puzzling thing for Apple to get caught up over, especially since Telegram already has a host of emoji and sticker options that go far beyond the default set found in iOS. Indeed, Durov noted that there are more than 10 new emoji packs in the latest Telegram update, and said the company will take the time to make Telemoji “even more unique and recognizable.”

There are still a lot of emoji-related improvements in the latest Telegram update, though. The company says it is launching an “open emoji platform” where anyone can upload their own set of emoji that people who pay for Telegram’s premium service can use. If you’re not a premium user, you’ll still be able to see the customized emoji and test using them in “saved messages” like reminders and notes in the app. The custom emoji can be interactive as well — if you tap on them, you’ll get a full-screen animated reaction. 

To make it easier to access all this, the sticker, GIF and emoji panel has been redesigned, with tabs for each of those reaction categories. This makes the iOS keyboard match up with the Android app as well as the web version of Telegram. There are also new privacy settings that let you control who can send you video and voice messages: everyone, contacts or no one. Telegram notes that, like its other privacy settings, you can set “exceptions” so that specific groups or people can “always” or “never” send you voice or video messages. The new update — sans Telemoji — is available now.

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