Definition

storage at the edge

Storage at the edge is the collective methods and technologies that capture and retain digital information at the periphery of the network, as close to the originating source as possible. In the early days of the internet, managing storage at the edge was primarily the concern of network administrators who had employees at remote branch offices (ROBOS). By the turn of the century, the term was also being used to describe direct-attached storage (DAS) in notebook computers and personal digital assistants (PDAs) used by field workers. Because employees did not always remember to back up storage at the edge manually, a primary concern was how to automate backups and keep the data secure. 

Today, as more data is being generated by networked internet of things (IoT) devices, administrators who deal with storage at the edge are more concerned with establishing workarounds for limited or intermittent connectivity and dealing with raw data that might need to be archived indefinitely. The prodigious volume of data coming from highway video surveillance cameras, for example, can easily overwhelm a traditional centralized storage model. This has led to experiments with pre-processing data at its source and centralizing storage for only a small part of the data.

In the case of automotive data, for example, log files stored in the vehicle might simply be tagged so should the need arise, the data in question could be sent to the cloud for deeper analysis. In such a scenario, intermediary micro-data centers or high-performance fog computing servers could be installed at remote locations to replicate cloud services locally. This not only improves performance, but also allows connected devices to act upon perishable data in fractions of a second. Depending upon the vendor and technical implementation, the intermediary storage location may be referred to by one of several names including IoT gateway, base station or hub.

This was last updated in September 2018

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