What Is Edge Computing and How Does It Work? Use Cases and Examples

Posted by Thane Moore on December 19, 2022

In a recent survey by IDC, more than two-thirds of business leaders said they are implementing edge computing solutions. Given the rapid growth of the edge computing model, IDC predicts that organizations will deploy more than half of all new IT infrastructure in edge data centers next year.

Edge computing has become increasingly important with today’s distributed workforces and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. In addition, edge computing can enhance security and privacy, aid in regulatory compliance, and provide scalability to support growing numbers of users and devices. That sounds great, but what does it all mean? Let’s take a step back and explore the meaning and significance of edge computing.

What Is Edge Computing?

Edge computing is a distributed computing framework that positions storage and compute resources at the periphery of the network, closer to where data is being generated. The “edge” in edge computing refers to the edge of the network. Think of the network as radiating out from a central data center. The network’s edge is the location nearest to users and endpoint devices. Organizations can minimize latency, reduce network congestion, and enhance the user experience by pushing out applications and data closer to the network edge.

It's simple physics. It takes data a certain amount of time to travel from the data center to users. Reduce that distance, and you reduce the amount of time.

How Does Edge Computing Work?

In the edge computing model, organizations place compute, storage, and networking resources in an edge data center — a colocation facility, remote office, retail store, warehouse, or manufacturing plant. Those IT resources capture and process data close to its source to enable real-time analytics. They can also host latency-sensitive applications to improve performance from the user’s perspective.

Micro data centers have been popularized due to the proliferation and adoption of edge computing. They house all the technology required for a given application (compute, storage, cooling, etc.) in a small form factor. Some are as big as one or multiple shipping containers, while others have the form factor of a single cabinet (like the Enconnex EdgeRack). No matter their size, they are easier to deploy at a network’s edge than a full-size data center. More on micro data center use cases and definition.

Two key trends are driving edge computing adoption. One is the widespread use of cloud platforms. Although the cloud delivers proven benefits, moving data back and forth between users and far-flung cloud platforms increases latency and network bandwidth requirements.

At the same time, organizations have implemented more latency-sensitive applications. The IDC study found that 90 percent of organizations use applications that can tolerate delays of no more than ten milliseconds. Edge computing addresses both issues.

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Edge Computing Use Cases and Applications


According to the American Medical Association, telemedicine was seeing 50 percent year-over-year growth before the pandemic. Since then, telemedicine usage has surged 500 percent in some areas due to the need for remote medical services. Edge computing facilitates telemedicine by enabling high-definition video conferencing and efficient patient and diagnostic data delivery. It also supports networked medical devices that can gather and process data in real time.

Industrial Automation

Industrial sectors are using IoT devices to monitor operations and collect data from equipment to minimize downtime and increase energy efficiency. The latest “smart” industrial equipment also collects and analyzes data to improve production. Because many manufacturing and industrial facilities operate in remote areas with limited network and data center infrastructure, edge computing provides the local IT resources needed to handle large volumes of data and support automation.


With most financial transactions handled electronically and through self-service tools, many banks are looking to streamline their operations with automated services. Kiosks installed in branches and off-premises locations go beyond ATM services, enabling customers to open accounts, obtain debit cards, order checks, apply for loans, and perform other tasks that would historically require human interaction. Edge computing supports these new technologies as well as more traditional in-branch services.

Smart Cities

Smart city applications are an ideal use case for edge computing. The public sector is using IoT technology for everything from outdoor lighting systems to traffic monitoring to advanced utility metering. These applications help municipalities, utilities, and other government entities reduce costs, increase efficiency, and save lives. Edge computing makes it possible to collect, process, and analyze data for real-time decision-making without sending it to a distant data center or the cloud.

Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality

Industry sectors ranging from retail to real estate are using VR and AR to provide customers with a fully immersive sales experience. These technologies use a three-dimensional, computer-generated environment to simulate real-world experiences, enabling users to explore and interact with their virtual, life-size surroundings. Creating that virtual environment requires substantial processing power and low latency. Edge computing provides the performance needed for successful VR and AR applications.

How Enconnex Can Help

Moving IT resources to the edge is not without its challenges. In many cases, there is limited space in edge facilities and a lack of proper environmental controls.

Our EdgeRack micro data center enclosures are engineered to excel in edge environments. Built for small spaces, they have efficient, self-contained cooling and other components needed for a fully outfitted mini edge data center. Browse our edge micro data centers for sale and contact us to discuss how EdeRack can support your edge computing use case.

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Posted by Thane Moore on December 19, 2022

Thane Moore is the Senior Director of Sales Operations & Logistics for Enconnex and has 20 years of experience in the IT infrastructure manufacturing space working for companies such as Emerson and Vertiv.

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