Business leaders want low latency, not speed, study finds

In an ideal world, the majority say, latency would be kept to under 5ms. The solution? More edge computing, an IDC study finds.

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An IDC survey of business leaders has found that two-thirds of organizations have begun adopting edge computing solutions and 40% plan to add new edge technology in less than a year. The reason for all this edge has little to do with speed: It's all about eliminating latency.

"Enterprises around the world are being confronted by a basic law of physics—distance neutralizes speed, causing latency or a delay between an action and an application's response. Controlling latency has never been more important, whether data flows to a distributed workforce or a multitude of smart gadgets that make up the Internet of Things," survey sponsor Lumen Technologies said in a blog post about the survey and accompanying report.

SEE: 5G: What it means for edge computing (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature) | Download the free PDF version (TechRepublic)

The body of the report itself lists "deterministic latency and distance limitations" as the third priority, being cited by 18.6% of respondents as a primary motivation for adopting edge computing. Latency is outranked by bandwidth and infrastructure cost, 29.7%, and data security's impact on operations and apps, 27.4%, but network speed is nowhere to be found as a leading motivator. 

While the number of businesses primarily concerned with latency may be low overall, that doesn't mean it's not important to them: 75% of respondents said they expect less than 5ms latency for edge applications, and another 14.8% said they need less than 10ms of latency. 

"C-suite leaders across verticals are looking to edge computing solutions to achieve significant operational efficiencies and improved security and compliance by limiting movement of data," said Ghassan Abdo, research vice president of WW telecom, virtualization & CDN at IDC, and one of the report's authors. Abdo added that all of those priorities can be addressed by edge computing. 

In late 2020, IDC predicted that the edge computing market will grow to $250.6 billion by 2024 as smart IoT devices proliferate, computing needs of organizations are distributed to remote employees, and edge apps become the norm.

In this latest report, IDC further predicts that 50% of new enterprise IT infrastructure will be deployed at the edge by 2023. To put that in perspective, less than 10% of new IT infrastructure is deployed to the edge today. IDC also predicts that by 2024 the number of apps at the edge will increase by 800%, and that by 2024, 75% of enterprises will "prioritize infrastructure agility and operational efficiency, leading to a five-times increase in the adoption of cloud-native architectures for core business applications."

SEE: Future of 5G: Projections, rollouts, use cases, and more (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

In short, the future of business isn't centralized cloud servers: It's a cloud-covered world in which computing is distributed as close to possible to its endpoints to eliminate latency and make real-time delivery of data as practical as possible. 

"It is clear that reducing the distance critical data must travel is seen as imperative to fueling growth and innovation for enterprises," said Abdo.

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