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Communications of the ACM

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Dependability in Edge Computing

person holds smartphone with 'Done' displayed on screen

Credit: David Mg, Andrij Borys Associates

Edge computing is the practice of placing computing resources at the edges of the Internet in close proximity to devices and information sources. This, much like a cache on a CPU, increases bandwidth and reduces latency for applications but at a potential cost of dependability and capacity. This is because these edge devices are often not as well maintained, dependable, powerful, or robust as centralized server-class cloud resources.a

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This article explores dependability and deployment challenges in the field of edge computing, what aspects are solvable with today's technology, and what aspects call for new solutions. The first issue addressed is failures—both hard (crash, hang, and so on) and soft (performance-related)—and real-time constraint violation. In this domain, edge computing bolsters real-time system capacity through reduced end-to-end latency. However, much like cache misses, overloaded or malfunctioning edge computers can drive latency beyond tolerable limits. Second, decentralized management and device tampering can lead to chain of trust and security or privacy violations. Authentication, access control, and distributed intrusion detection techniques have to be extended from current cloud deployments and need to be customized for the edge ecosystem. The third issue deals with handling multi-tenancy in the typically resource-constrained edge devices and the need for standardization to allow for interoperability across vendor products.


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