feeling edgy? So do some cloud providers, seeing cutting-edge data centers in their markets.
Edge data centers offer many benefits, including reduced latency, increased bandwidth, and improved privacy, security, and resiliency. But does this mean that cloud computing will go out of business? Not at all, says Mike Miller, managing director and dean of Deloitte’s Cloud Institute of Consulting firm Deloitte. “Advanced computing is not a threat to cloud service providers, it is an opportunity,” he says.
Grace Lewis, principal investigator at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute, says she doesn’t view edge computing as a threat to cloud providers. Lewis sees edge computing as an opportunity to support a wider range of use cases in which computing and data are distributed across cloud servers and peripherals as needed. “It provides the opportunity for high-end devices to perform on-premises processing and interact with cloud services only when greater computing resources are needed to send data to the cloud, or to receive data from the cloud,” she notes.
Lewis says that organizations that take advantage of IoT devices, or sensors that collect large amounts of data at the edge, will be able to use their high-end hardware to perform local data processing to achieve faster response times. “Other organizations that will greatly benefit from edge computing are military and first responders where access to the cloud cannot always be guaranteed,” she says. “In these cases, high-end hardware can be preloaded with the computations and data needed for each task, with access to the cloud if and available.”
Miller advised that any organization with use cases that require low latency – such as industrial Internet of Things or cognitive applications – should explore the use of edge computing to augment its computing architecture. He also notes that applications that take advantage of 5G technology are well suited to edge computing.
Miller anticipates that there will continue to be an explosion in evolving computing use cases as application engineers begin to recognize the advantage of reduced latency in cognitive and industrial IoT applications. “Developing container-based applications once/deploying them everywhere will continue to simplify the ability to take advantage of a multi-tiered architecture,” he says.
Cloud providers will become more important in the coming years, not less, predicts Michael McCarthy, associate professor of information systems at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz School of Information Systems and Public Policy. “The code will need to be deployed back to the edge for updates and security patches while the edge components will need to talk to the cloud components for applications that cannot run on the edge alone.”
McCarthy says that computers in the cloud will always be much faster and more capable than those at the edge. they will [also] Access to larger data stores and faster networks. In contrast, computers on the edge will always be resource-poor compared to those in the cloud. He says that both technologies will improve over time, but the cloud will always be in the lead.
Compared to edge computing, the cloud is very flexible in terms of computing applications and long-term storage and is designed to handle surges with ease, says Ed Fox, chief technology officer at MetTel IT. While edge does not provide the same degree of flexibility that the cloud does, the technology can also add to enterprise maintenance and operations load. “It takes more work to keep these edges running efficiently and to build high availability and business continuity scenarios.” According to Fox, other major edge disadvantages are the complexity of network management and data management.
Cloud computing and edge computing can work together. “The systems will be designed so that every kind of player does what they do well,” McCarthy says. Cloudlets, for example, can be deployed to provide close cloud services, bringing the cloud closer to devices and end users. He notes that “Cloudlets provide powerful computing along with low latency.”
Lewis anticipates that more cloud service providers will soon begin supporting what is described as a cloud-to-edge continuum, where computation and data flow from cloud to edge as needed to provide better support for edge users in areas such as latency, bandwidth and resilience. “In these cases, decisions about which accounts and data to push to high-end devices, and when to do so, will require planning and development of potentially complex algorithms to ensure that edge users get the accounts and data they need when they need it,” she explained.
Miller says edge computing has been embraced by all the major cloud providers. “Each one has recognized and incorporated cutting edge computing into their commercial and consumer product offerings.”
Fox agrees. “All of the cloud providers are very focused on maximizing their services, so it’s really a growth area for them as well.”
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