One man’s view on the definition of Edge in RFID middleware

Being in the RFID industry for 5 plus years and in the middeware space for over 10 years I have seen many definitions and usages of the term edge in reference to RFID middleware. After speaking with many clients and system integrators as well as being part of and developing RFID/sensor based solutions I have come up with what edge is today and what it will mean as the market continues to grow and mature.

The pure definition of edge used as a noun is “a line determining the limits of an area“ and used as a verb is “to provide with a border that can be useful and be reached within a duration of time“ . Using these definitions as a foundation and applying these definitions to the RFID/sensor marketplace with a focus on creating business value I have formulated my vision of an edge server.

First I will start with the noun portion, boundaries of an edge server. The boundaries of an edge server depends on the sensor area you are attempting to monitor, filter and provide business value to a consumer. A consumer could be a user interface, device, enterprise system, repository etc…It’s basically at the point where you are able to leverage sensor information to orchestrate sensor events necessary to provide business events within the consuming applications domain. For example, a edge boundary could exist strictly at the point of sale system device or could go as far as looking at information across a multitude of sensors in a cloud. The factors in my opinion that go into determining what are the limitations of an edge depend of the volume of data to be processed, the richness of data required across sensors and at what point do you converge on translating this information into valuable business events such as answering the who, what, when, where and why questions required by the consuming application.

Secondly now I will look at from the vantage point of the verb aspect, “to provide with a border that can be useful and reached within a duration of time ”. So once you have defined your edge boundaries now the key element is to provide useful information to your consuming application and the useful information is obtainable within some duration of time. I firmly believe this is a key aspect to an edge server is that it must be able to process information in a timely manner as defined by your edge boundary and turn this information into something that can be used to trigger or make a business decision.

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