Today’s episode features an interview between Matt Trifiro and Mahadev Satyanarayanan, also known as Satya. Satya is the Carnegie Group Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, and one of the true Godfathers of Edge Computing.
Over the course of his multi-decade research career, Satya has pioneered many advances in distributed systems, mobile computing, and IoT, and in 2009 he co-authored “The Case for VM-based Cloudlets in Mobile Computing,” the groundbreaking research paper that led to the emergence of Edge.
In this interview, Satya shares how he started thinking about distributed computing infrastructure for mobile devices back in 1993, how much of his vision has come true in the decades since, and his views on the future of cloud, edge, IoT, and much more.
“In 1997 we said, given that [the compute capability of] mobile devices is always going to be a challenge, how do we get substantial applications that require compute-intensive processing to run on a mobile device? The answer is to offload computation to the infrastructure. We were the first to demonstrate that capability in a published paper.”
“When it comes to user experience, people have learned that it’s not the mean that matters, it is the tail. Human user experience is greatly overweighted by a few negative experiences. You may have one hour on a zoom call, and 58 minutes of it may be excellent, but you will remember the two minutes that were miserable. This is generally true for augmented reality, and for all of these other [latency-sensitive] use cases.”
“It’s useless to deploy 5G without edge computing. The truth is 5G is only going to improve your last mile quality. That’s it.”
“How much end-to-end latency is acceptable is very much a function of the application. But it’s a two-way street. The applications that get written depend on what today’s technology can offer…If the application’s demand gets too far ahead of what the technology can offer, then the application will die because it’s not viable.”
“The ultimate beneficiaries of edge computing should make strategic investments that incentivize the creation of edge-native applications, and apply a different success criteria from what is traditionally applied by venture capitalists…That investment is valuable even without a hockey stick growth curve, because you are creating long term demand for the core product that you’re creating, which is edge computing itself.”
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