Fundamentals: What is an edge device?

Edge devices are so much more than pieces of hardware, and with the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing, they’re more important than ever. Edge devices have many purposes, but at their core, they serve as entry or exit points and control the flow of data at the boundary or perimeter between two networks. For networks that use different protocols, edge devices also provide traffic translation in addition to connectivity. 

How does it work?

Edge devices are comprised of hardware that performs the two essential functions of providing physical connectivity and enabling traffic between networks. A full range of edge device functions might include the transmission, routing, processing, monitoring, filtering, translation and storage of data between networks.

Common & Intelligent Edge Devices

Traditional edge devices include edge routers, routing switches, firewalls, multiplexers, and other wide area network (WAN) devices. 

Intelligent edge devices have built-in processors with onboard analytics or artificial intelligence capabilities. Such devices might include sensors, actuators, and IoT gateways. With the ability to process certain amounts of data directly on intelligent edge devices, rather than uploading, processing and storing data on the cloud, companies can create efficiencies and reduce costs.

Uses for Edge Devices

While edge devices are primarily used by enterprises and service providers to connect an internal local area network (LAN) to the Internet or an external wide area network (WAN), edge devices and edge computing have evolved to provide more advanced capabilities. Such capabilities might include wireless access points (APs), security through wireless APs or virtual private network (VPN) servers, dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) services, and domain name system (DNS) services.


Cloud computing and IoT have taken edge devices to the next level by requiring “more intelligence, computing power and advanced services at the network edge,” according to TechTarget. Edge computing takes place at or near the data source thereby bringing information closer to the people who use the data to make informed decisions. The result is faster response times and the use of fewer network resources. When applied to IoT devices, edge computing can create efficiencies by automating tasks and improving processes, in addition to numerous other benefits. 

Challenges of Edge Devices

While edge devices provide speed, cost savings, and expanded access to networks and resources, there are several considerations to be made when employing this technology. Some challenges with edge devices include the responsibility of registering and managing various edge devices, ensuring data security, and preventing bottlenecks in network traffic.


Tech Target


Edge Device

By Brien Posey and Jessica Scarpati 


Edge Device 


Unleash IoT with Intelligent Edge Devices 

The Verge

Circuit Breaker

What is edge computing?

The future of software will be managed

By Paul Miller

May 7, 2018