by Patricia B. Mirasol

We are in the cloud-computing era. Many of us already use cloud-based services like Dropbox, Gmail, Office 365, and Slack, even as more cloud-powered services like the soon-to-launch Xbox Game Pass Ultimate are being developed for our benefit. 

The next frontier after cloud computing is edge computing—or computing that’s done at or near the data source instead of relying on the cloud in one of the many data centers spread all over to do the work.

Self-driving cars and robotic surgery demonstrate how edge computing works. Instead of relying on a data center in, say, Singapore to process the coordinates of a self-driving car and its immediate environment in the streets of Manila, it makes more sense to have the processing capabilities as close as possible to where the car is. 

Edge computing delivers low latency (meaning there is minimal delay despite a high volume of data messages) and handles high bandwidth requirements where clients need to make very quick decisions. 

One product that capitalizes on edge computing is IBM’s Cloud Satellite. “Cloud Satellite has the ability to take a piece of public cloud functionality and bring it as close as possible to the customer. Rather than having a cloud service sitting in Singapore, Japan, or Sydney, you’re taking some of the cloud functionality and bringing it to the Philippines, so you can effectively deploy in the Philippines rather than connecting back to the public cloud,” said Gajun Ganendran, Chief Technology Officer and Presales Leader of IBM Cloud Platform Asia Pacific. 

Apart from transportation and healthcare, the technology has practical applications in sectors such as telecommunications and travel. Ditto for regulated industries like banking and finance that may have requirements on security and data sovereignty (the concept that data may be subject to the laws of more than one country; occurs when data is stored digitally with a cloud service provider and may be stored overseas).

Since vendor lock-in is a challenge that many clients face when they adopt public cloud technology, IBM is making it more accessible through OpenShift, Mr. Ganendran said. OpenShift is an open, automated, applications-based platform by IBM subsidiary RedHat. Using such a platform gives the clients the ability to break away from vendor lock-in requirements.

IBM Cloud Satellite will be available later this year.