Here's a blog I wrote on DX with my opinion that this a new era in digital transformation that's been going on since we first installed digital computers into organizations to improve their business processes. This time its being driven by AI and IoT (connectivity). https://www.rti.com/blog/digital-transformation-revisited-the-promise-of-things-to-come-in-the-2020s
In addition, now cloud computing is equally applicable at the edge as it is in the data center; for example check "edge cloud" or this week's Amazon's announcement of "Wavelength" and "Outposts". As was shared already, the interesting dichotomy is "data center" vs. outside of one, we call edge computing ("Field" would have been a better term, but the world already chose "Edge"). Cloud computing could be in either and really means we do not know nor care where. The report that Brett alluded to and the Distributed Computing TG is working on gets into the details.
The economies of volume suggest that it is cheaper (both CapEx and OpEx) to do computing in the data center; however, in certain situations (IoT being one of them) this saving is not feasible. We narrowed down the reasons to the following:
1- Issues with the link to the data center:
a. is unreliable (dropped connection),
b. has too high a latency for a given application,
c. has insufficient throughput for a given application, or
d. is too expensive for the given data volume.
2- Data residency, governed by policy and/or regulation; e.g.:
a. Data from sensors not to leave the premises (trade secret, HIPAA privacy, ...).
b. A user interface is restricted to a premise (e.g., SCADA systems).
In those cases, as Brett said, you have to bite the bullet and locate computing outside the data center, where it will be more costly and has special requirements including hardening , tamper resistance, and it will be more difficult to manage and maintain. Effectively, the location of the compute resource becomes part of the problem requirement and solution design.
To me what telcos call MEC, compute resource at the cellular tower, (where the fiber meets the wireless) is a form of public edge computing (in contrast to the private variety). For one they refer to it as "edge", the "E" in MEC, and it fits the reasons above else it would be more economical to locate it in a more centralized data center, instead of at every cellular tower location in the wild field exposed to the elements.
What role can Distributed Ledgers play in Industrial Supply Chains?
Yesterday, we had a good discussion on it at Industrial DX group.
IMHO, the "edge" isn't really an edge. The cleanest definition is "anything outside a data center", aka the entire real world. But that's not really helpful.
I see the edge as more of a "slope", where the height is determined by (connection) proximity to the essentially infinite compute and storage resources of the cloud. Those resources make high-end computing like AI easier. Some assume that edge systems are less intelligent. But practically, many of the most useful intelligent systems must implement intelligence further down the slope. Autonomous vehicles are a great example. They must do sensor fusion, localization, planning and control directly inside the vehicle.