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How is Edge Computing Complying With The European Green Deal?

August 13, 2021

The European Union’s Green Deal Programs were announced to lead global efforts towards building more environmentally friendly operations, with the European bloc of 27 nations committing to becoming climate neutral by 2050. This ambitious Green Deal’s objective is to transform European businesses to achieve lower carbon & methane emissions and aims to establish global leadership to create a favorable world for future generations. Still, to achieve its Green targets, many changes need to be done in how businesses operate and work today so efficiency is not reduced via green measures and people can sustain a  quality life. Almost every aspect of the business value chain will need to be made greener – from manufacturing, construction, transport to food production, processing and consumption. While the other aspects of business transformation, the computing industry will also need to be redesigned in efficient and sustainable ways. 

Now, if you were not already aware, then here’s a fact for you – computing creates an incredible strain on our environment – mainly in terms of pollution. According to rough industry figures, over a billion people own a personal computer today. The average PC, according to industry estimates, uses 746 kilowatts of energy every year – which is 25- 50 times the energy consumed by a typical light bulb. This adds to the strain on our electric grids, which is heavily reliant on coal and other pollution-intensive energy sources. Consequently, the total amount of electricity that powers the global grids is responsible for millions of tons of greenhouse gases that enter our atmosphere each year. For comparison, the global computing needs contribute to 2% of global carbon emissions – the same as caused by the global airline industry. 

In fact, every part of the computing industry – from microchip production to the maintenance of massive data centers that can span over millions of square feet- is highly carbon-intensive. The data centers alone account for over 1% of the global energy consumption – this figure is estimated to increase as we move into the next decade. 

So, the verdict is clear – we need greener computing and applications. For these, the production and deployment models from hardware production to software applications that run on them need to be redesigned. Here, an exception can be made for Edge-Computing on their green nature: Edge computing is a relatively new computing paradigm that is inherently green. The rise of the edge computing model offers a promising future to the design and development of computing applications that are green and environment-friendly.

Cloud vs Edge

Today, cloud computing is increasing in popularity and adoption across the globe. Cloud computing offers several benefits like scalability, flexibility, and cost-efficiency; especially when starting out with a project. In cloud computing, devices send data over the network to the cloud where it is processed, analyzed and then the resulting output is sent back. 

A famous example would be Netflix. Here, you access your Netflix account on your smart TV or laptop. Your movie watchlist, preferences and announcements are collected and sent to Netflix’s servers on AWS, from where you can access your shows and scroll through your personalized list. 

Unlike the cloud computing model, edge computing works in a different manner. Here, the data stays where it is produced and the edge devices are designed with the mechanism to do the necessary computing. This can not only make computing fast but also makes it less prone to hacker attacks because the data has fewer points of exposure now as compared to when it needs to move around the network. 

Edge computing completely changes the traditional computing model where a central server is at one or more data centers, and multiple client computers interact with the centralized server for information communication and processing. Edge computing is an entirely new paradigm in Information Technology, and it involves processing information at the periphery of the network. Therefore, smart applications powered by edge computing do not have to send the data to the central network. Instead, the processing and computing will all happen at that point of the closest network to the device. While this paradigm provides several benefits to the application performance, it is only recently that information technology leaders have started realizing the massive benefits that it offers for greening the software world. The simplest way to describe how edge computing facilitates that is to reduce network traffic and data center usage. Because the computing takes place at the edge of the network, computing becomes less reliant on energy-intensive centralized data centers. This reduces costs associated with transmission loss, thus making the whole process more efficient. 

This creates another benefit in terms of reducing costs- because now with edge computing less data needs to traverse across the global networks. Over the world,  it results in large-scale benefits by reducing network traffic and the associated costs of carrying that load. With the edge computing model, only essential data needs to be transported to the central server – and the rest of the computation happens at the network periphery. 

Additionally, edge computing devices are designed for efficiency. Unlike centralized servers and cloud, edge devices do not scale horizontally by adding more hardware. This helps to reduce the energy waste that more conventional computing models cause. The worldwide impact of increasing computing efficiency by deploying Edge-Computing would be enormous. 

Another imminent benefit offered by edge computing is that it enables companies to reuse the existing network and hardware. It does this by taking advantage of the available computing power available with the edge devices instead of clogging up the network bandwidth to send data to the cloud and back. 

Edge computing is most prevalent in the Internet of Things devices today. These IoT devices produce and process millions of data points every hour. Edge computing enables these IoT devices to power smart devices capable of responding on the fly. These IoT devices powered by Edge Computing can be used to design smart electricity grids which can predict the electricity demand to match it with the supply – thus reducing wastage.

Edge Computing is an exciting new paradigm that offers fantastic opportunities for businesses and governments to redesign their operations and computing model – in a way that is environmentally friendly and green. Thus, adopting edge computing will become more commonplace in our future as companies strive to adjust their processes to comply with stricter environmental audits to achieve the European Green Deal. 

At Medianova, we provide global CDN solutions and cloud platforms, and we are experienced in streaming, encoding, caching, micro caching, hybrid CDN, and website acceleration. With our footprint in 21 countries and 100% SSD-powered anycast network, Medianova is one of the fastest HTTPS secure CDNs in Europe and the Middle East based on Cedexis.

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