Edge computing in a nutshell by Erica Pisani
To better understand the concept of edge computing and the importance of its application in the modern world, we spoke with Erica Pisani, a software engineer from Netlify who spoke at the Full Stack Conference in Antwerp on boosting your site’s performance with edge computing.”
Erica, what exactly is edge computing?
Erica: Edge computing is where computing power and data are made available to users closer to them in a geographic sense. This can take the form of data centers running code and hosting data through a cloud provider like Cloudflare, AWS, etc., outside their data centers in Region/Availability Zones. Still, it can also look like devices shipped to users that enable computing and cloud storage capabilities in remote environments with intermittent or non-existent internet, such as windmills and ships.
How can running code and serving data on the edge improve the performance of services hosted on cloud platforms?
Erica: Primarily, this is done by reducing the request latency, as the distance a request travels is significantly reduced when the edge is used compared to when it isn’t. We often host our code and data in a select number of Regions/Availability Zones on our cloud platforms, and users far away from those will experience less optimal performance than those who are.
By leveraging the edge, we can move toward having more equal performance of our services for all our users, no matter where they’re located worldwide.
How can tools be optimized for peak performance with minimal architectural changes?
Erica: I’d encourage folks first to look at high-traffic, focused functionality within their applications. Some examples include validating user sessions, A/B split testing, setting session cookies, and setting request and response headers. Given the CPU time constraints with some edge offerings, these are all significant use cases that shouldn’t require significant architectural changes to your application.
Still, they can start developers by incorporating the edge into their applications and giving them a performance boost.