Edge computing companies enable distributed computing throughout a network, including to the very edge – hence the name. Rather than process data in massive data centers or using large cloud providers, edge computing companies support deployments that are more far-flung, closer to consumers – even in their homes.
An edge location – which supports data processing – can literally be the size of the proverbial breadbox, but they are often much larger, from phone booth-sized to shipping containers. Edge computing units are placed in and around major cities, often around retail locations, to gather local data.
A subset of the term edge computing is Internet of Things, or IoT, which is a network that typically comprises hundreds or thousands (or more) of edge computing units, which hold small sensors. IoT is intended to gather data, such as telemetry, remove the unnecessary or superfluous data, and send the relevant data up to a data center for processing. Or, increasingly, process the data right at the edge. IoT supports bringing enterprise applications closer to vast array of data sources.
What Are the Benefits of Edge Computing?
By placing the apps closer to data at its source, edge computing companies can deliver multiple business benefits, including faster insights, improved response times and better bandwidth performance. Because of this, more and more business processing is moving out of the data centers to the edge. Gartner estimates that by 2025, 75% of data will be processed outside the traditional data center or cloud.
Top 10 Edge Computing Companies
The market for edge computing providers is in rapid flux – the deals and and offers of today could be markedly different tomorrow. As you settle on a couple of possible vendors, it’s good to have an extensive conversation with that company’s sales reps to ensure all variables are clearly laid out. Not only do you need to select a pricing model, but you also have to evaluate service, scalability and data policy.
Choose a Pricing Model
There are a few different pricing models and structures offered for both hardware and edge providers.
- Consumption-based pricing, or pay for what you use. This is usually used by IaaS and PaaS providers. Hardly any offer a flat rate. This allows the customer to scale up and down as needed, although if need stays high, your budget can easily run over.
- Subscription-based pricing. This is the flat rate method and is used primarily by SaaS companies. You pay per month and have to pay a license for each user, but the trade-off is you can use unlimited resources.
- Market-based pricing. This is less common because business runs 24/7, but market-based pricing tends to limit when you can use resources. You might be limited to running resource-intensive programs only during off-peak hours, for example.
Evaluate Service, Scalability, Data Policy
Some edge providers may offer development platforms, while others are purely hardware providers. Additional features to ask for when speaking with the sales rep:
- Scalability and self-service provisioning.
- Automatic backup and restore/disaster recovery.
- Automatic maintenance and patching.
- Servicing remote sites vs. staff must travel to the site.
Additionally, some customers have gotten a rude surprise when they went to take their data back from a remote provider. For starters, data retrieval rates can be exorbitant if you have a lot of data in a remote location. The costs and terms will be spelled out in the service agreement – which you should check very carefully.
Consider the Potential for Lock-In
Few companies have a single edge computing provider, they usually draw from multiple providers. But the vendors would like you to think otherwise. This leads to a tendency for vendor lock-in, where hardware, protocols, apps, and other software are completely proprietary and don’t allow you to migrate edge computing workloads from different platforms, especially from on-premises servers to the edge.
Again, in your due diligence, check the details to ensure that any vendor you work with supports interoperability standards and will not hamstring you should you decide to move or at least interoperate with another edge company.
Top Edge Computing Companies
Our list of the leading edge computing companies covers both hardware and services providers, since both are integral to the edge. It is in no particular order.
Edge computing value proposition: As the leader in cloud computing, AWS is investing heavily in edge computing as well, which means they offer an extensive toolset. So AWS has offers for both SMB and large enterprise – but the user interface won’t be simple.
AWS may not have edge locations scattered around big cities but AWS offers a considerable amount of cloud-edge hybrid services for a uniform experience across the edge environment. AWS includes services and solutions that include hybrid cloud, IoT, AI, industrial machine learning, robotics, analytics, and compute services. If you can imagine it, AWS probably has it.
AWS claims to have more than 200 integrated device services to choose from, and sells its own: Alexa and Echo. It also provides solutions like its Connected Vehicle solution, IoT Device Simulator, and AWS IoT Camera Connector.
AWS’s interface is known to be complex, so those companies that will handle their edge infrastructure themselves will need considerable in-house expertise.
Edge computing value proposition: The emerging concept of “observability,” which refers to the ability to closely monitor a far-flung platform, is quickly becoming a must-have for enterprise customers; this is a strength for EdgeConnex.
EdgeConnex’s business model is to place data facilities where they’re needed the most for better network and IT connectivity. It works with customers to ensure tailored scalability, power, and connectivity.
Through its Far Edge services, it offers more than 4,000 points of presence outside of its hundreds of data centers worldwide. EdgeConnex’s Far Edge use cases include artificial intelligence and machine learning, fast media streaming, and (of course) IoT devices.
EdgeConnex offers EdgeOS, a self-service management OS for data center infrastructure management (DCIM) providing customers with a single, secure view into their infrastructure deployed in any location across its global footprint.
Edge computing value proposition: ADLINK’s core focus is embedded computing; this and its international presence make it ideal for an edge project that spans global borders.
Taiwan-based ADLINK has a network that spans from the US to Germany to China, encompassing some 40 countries in total. Unlike some companies on this list ADLINK that offer edge services in addition to cloud and other IT services, ADLINK is specifically focused on the embedded computing sector.
In addition to its widespread operational presence, the company has design centers in Asia, the US, and Germany. ADLINK speciality within edge computing includes IoT hardware, software, AI software, and robotics solutions. Its product line includes computer-on-modules, industrial motherboards, data acquisition modules and complete systems, with emphasis on the aerospace, manufacturing, healthcare, networking, communications, and the military sector.
The company touts its focus on artificial intelligence, which is an exceptionally important tool for monitoring and managing the edge; managing the edge is essentially impossible using human staff alone.
Edge computing value proposition: An edge computing company with a “1+1=3” strategy, meaning that they focus on interoperation with other tech firms – a particularly significant strategy in the edge world, in which cooperative networking is so essential.
Founded in 2014, and arguably a leader among the new cohort of edge startups, Vapor IO develops hardware and software, and has edge-to-edge solutions called Kinetic Grid platform and Kinetic Edge architecture, which are designed to enable customer data delivery and processing across global borders. The company is based in Austin, Texas.
Vapor IO develops a collection of edge colocation and interconnection facilities colocated with wireless network. The company is actively building fiber backbones in numerous markets.
The company builds portable data centers about the size of a shipping container, “micromodular data centers,” that are placed at wireless base stations or wherever they are needed. Vapor IO serves wireless carriers, cloud providers, web-scale companies, and other enterprises.
Edge computing value proposition: Mutable’s mission is to get edge computing infrastructure close to remote processors – very close. It uses “micro” data centers to support applications on its platform.
Closer to a start-up – launched in 2013 – the company is a compelling example of the future of edge companies. Mutable is a public edge cloud platform that patterns itself as an Airbnb for servers. If you have some underutilized servers sitting idle, you can loan them out to businesses in the area that need extra capacity, so long as they are within 40 kilometers or less, and turn your idle servers into a new revenue stream. This is done through its Mutable OS edge computing software solution.
Because of the close distance requirement, Mutable’s Public Edge Cloud ensures latency rates of less than 20 milliseconds. It offers a 5G network in addition to wired connectivity. All stacks, snapshots, containers and related services operate in an isolated environment. Mutable’s other edge computing tools include Mutable Node, Mutable Mesh and Mutable k8s Platform.
This concept of hyper-low latency is definitely a vision of where the future of edge is headed. If edge is fast and highly responsive, it grows and succeeds.
Edge computing value proposition: With perhaps the widest infrastructure base in the tech industry, from cloud to data to AI, Microsoft is focused on winning big marketshare in edge, and is investing accordingly.
Microsoft’s Azure IoT is second only to Amazon in terms of market size, but there is more to it than that. It offers Azure SQL Edge, an edge version of its powerful SQL Server database, offering data streaming, time series, and database machine learning. Its IoT Plug and Play lets users connect IoT edge technologies to the cloud without having to write a single line of embedded code.
Microsoft recently launched Windows 10 IoT Core, a derivative of Windows 10 designed for compact devices such as a Raspberry Pi board. Many of Microsoft’s edge computing capabilities are extensions of the Azure cloud platform and it offers Azure Stack Edge to facilitate development and migration.
Azure Stack is an on-premises version of Azure meant to be run internally in a company data center. Azure Stack Edge lets companies develop and upgrade their edge apps on-prem, and when they are ready, deploy them to the edge. Microsoft is a player to watch in the edge sector, clearly.
Edge computing value proposition: Edge is an environment that prizes managing and monitoring application workloads across regions; MobiledgeX’s cloud platform offers the cross-interface functionality with an abstraction layer; you might think of it as virtualization for the edge.
Definitely geared for large enterprise customers, MobiledgeX was launched by Deutsche Telekom AG in 2016, and offers automation and orchestration in a multicloud environment.
MobiledgeX offers a marketplace of edge computing services and resources that will connect developers with telecom operators like British Telecom, Telefonica, and Deutsche Telekom. MobiledgeX Edge-Cloud platform helps simplify deployment, management and analytics for developers of their apps to run on telco edge clouds.
MobiledgeX Edge-Cloud Platform allows developers to autonomously manage software deployment across the distributed edge network infrastructure from a number of operators, using a unified console.
Edge computing value proposition: A large player with the expertise and personnel for heavy duty edge computing projects, Schneider offers an extensive menu of enterprise IT services to support edge deployments.
A giant in Europe – it’s a French multinational – Schneider Electric is making a big push into the U.S. market with edge data center products, including ruggedized racks and storage units, purpose-built all-in-one units, and wall mounted units where floor space is at a premium.
It also offers EcoStruxure, a DCIM software package for managing servers remotely. Schneider owns UPS specialist American Power Conversion and APC products are frequently a part of its offerings.
Additionally, Schneider supports projects for everything for data centers to corporate headquarters to homes, and has strength in services and automation.
Edge computing value proposition: As the leading name in the colocation sector, Equinix has a deep legacy of expertise in enterprise IT – and it has the physical infrastructure to support big ambitions in edge computing.
Equinix is the largest American data center provider, as well as the largest around the world. Its primary focus is colocation, where a customer puts their compute systems in Equinix data centers, so the customer doesn’t have to maintain a data center facility.
Its edge strategy dovetails from this, in that Equinix’s goal is to help large enterprises quickly shift their IT infrastructure to colocations in major cities as needed without having to build their own infrastructure. Equinix also offers a variety of virtual network services to improve edge performance and reduce latency.
Edge computing value proposition: In a world in which many large tech companies are adding edge capability to an already large feature set, ClearBlade offers an image of the future in which companies launch to focus deeply on the edge itself.
ClearBlade is another company purely focused on IoT and the edge. ClearBlade Edge allows customers to develop compute services and solve business problems from a single platform. It also offers real-time location and asset tracking, and its middleware platform helps build and connect systems to IoT without coding.
This no code focus is a fascinating take on the union of edge and trend within digital transformation to allow all users to build and upgrade applications. The company’s no code IoT Application edge-native computing.
Its primary products include its ClearBlade Enterprise IoT Platform, ClearBlade Edge IoT Software, and ClearBlade Secure IoT Cloud. It is particularly focused on the transportation, energy, and health care sectors.