Far Edge vs. Near Edge in Edge Computing - Tech.in | 5G, SDN/NFV & MEC

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Friday, June 14, 2019

Far Edge vs. Near Edge in Edge Computing

Far Edge, Near Edge, Enterprise Edge, IOT Edge... with so many definitions for Edge computing infrastructure, at times novices become edgy. Traditionally, edge for a telco service provider was the central office (CO). However, the definition of edge today is getting extended to the base stations. Computing infrastructure is getting deployed under the base stations, to be called as Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC). In March 2017, during the Mobile World Congress event, Mobile Edge Compute was rechristened as Multi-access Edge Compute, sensing the relevance of the mobile edge compute infrastructure to non-mobile use cases. Recently, Edge Computing has become the defacto name for the edge cloud computing infrastructure. Though the name carries "computing", it also includes storage and networking capabilities. This article will help the readers to understand the difference between Far Edge and Near Edge.


What is Far Edge?

Far Edge is the edge computing infrastructure which is deployed in a location farthest from the cloud data center(s) and closest to the users. For example, a mobile service provider's far edge computing infrastructure can be at the bottom of the cell phone towers (i.e., near the mobile base stations). Far Edge computing infrastructure can also be deployed at shopping malls, enterprises and factories. MEC infrastructure typically gets deployed in Far Edge.

Applications that run on the far edge require ultra-low latency, high scalability and high throughput. AR/VR, Gaming, Live video streaming applications are good examples of applications that can be run on the far edge.

Far Edge computing infrastructure gets referred using different names, based on the applications hosted. For example, it may be called as an Enterprise Edge (when it hosts enterprise applications such as SD-WAN services), IOT Edge (when it hosts IOT applications such as IOT Gateway function)

What is Near Edge?

Near Edge is the edge computing infrastructure which is deployed in a location between the far edge and the cloud data centers. While Far Edge computing infrastructure hosts applications specific to the location in which it is deployed, Near Edge hosts generic services. For example, CDN caches and Fog computing infrastructure are good examples of Near Edge Cloud infrastructure. Telecommunication Service provider's Central office (CO) can serve as either a near edge or a far edge computing infrastructure. 

What are the criteria to use to decide the edge location to run your applications?

There are a number of factors which are evaluated to decide where to host a given application. Some of the criteria are: 
- Scalability (Number of users, number of devices etc.,)
- Type of application (Gaming, Video streaming, web content, social media etc.,)
- Latency requirement of the application
- Throughput requirement for the application 
- Entity that manages the application (Enterprise, Telco, Cloud Service provider etc.,)
- Security constraints


Edge Computing plays a critical role in the 5G world. Many of the 5G use cases require ultra-low latencies and edge computing infrastructure helps in realizing that. In the months and years to come, we would notice that edge computing gets lot more attention - as the race between the telco service providers and cloud service providers, heats up.

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