Edge Computing Just Got Its Rosetta Stone

By June 27, 2018 June 28th, 2018 Blog, Embedded, Automotive and IoT

“The edge is anything that’s not cloud.” — Keith Townsend, The CTO-Advisor

“The edge is the bumper of a car.” — Anonymous[1]

“Edge computing is compute that’s closer to the consumer.” — Mark Imbriaco, Pivotal


If you surveyed a group of people and asked them to define “edge computing,” you may very well get a variety of different answers.

For those of us who want to make software that capitalizes on this next stage in the evolution of the internet, that’s a problem. Unless we share a common vocabulary for the particulars of edge computing, we risk crippling ourselves and slowing our progress.

Think of all the technologies we use today, from foundational network protocols and APIs to the worldwide network of networks that we call the internet. How successful would they be, and how much work would be able to get done using them, if we couldn’t agree on what each of them were called? We’d be forced to laboriously reinvent the wheel, constantly looking for a coherent definition that everyone agreed to, fighting against others. Without a shared understanding of the terminology and concepts behind them, we’d be lost.

Agreeing on the precise words we use when we speak of important technologies increases the speed of innovation. If I say, “64-bit hash” and you and I have a shared understanding of both “bit” and “hash,” our communication will be lighting fast. If our meanings diverge, our communications will be laborious at best, disastrous at worst.

This is the situation that exists today with edge computing. Today, the industry has not agreed on a single, consistent lexicon that describes what edge computing is; what its component parts are, how they inter-operate, and how edge computing can be used to support the next wave of innovative new applications such as autonomous vehicles and large-scale IoT networks. As edge computing moves out of its science project stage and into real-world deployment, it will need to be built on this shared edge lexicon.

The   emerged organically from a community of passionate edge computing specialists, including a range of parties from edge computing infrastructure manufacturers, cloud providers and independent industry analysts. As the project gained momentum, The Linux Foundation agreed to be its steward.

This project welcomes collaboration. If you have domain expertise in any of the aspects of edge computing, we invite you to contribute. Let’s work together to rigorously define the key terms in the edge computing ecosystem, in order to provide the industry with a Rosetta Stone for converting the hieroglyphics of edge technology into a shared understanding.

As a Linux Foundation project, the Open Glossary of Edge Computing will continuously evolve based on community involvement. The aim of this project is to maintain a current, useful and concise reference for edge computing so that this new area of technology can be better understood by everyone across any number of industries. Like other Linux Foundation projects, the Open Glossary of Edge Computing project is freely licensed[2] and the community will adhere to the same governance principles as other open source projects.

We look forward to joining you in the community. The internet of the future is stronger when we all share in its creation and this project is an excellent way to do that.

[1] Actually overheard at June 21, 2018 Telecom Council meeting. It was in response to the question, “Where is the edge?”

[2] The glossary itself carries a Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license.