Edge Computing vs Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is now an established technology that transforming the world in more ways than we can imagine. But, technology and its outreach is growing too, so can cloud computing manage all the data.

Let’s take an example here. The Internet of Things (IoT) is real and will soon become an integral part of our lives. It will ease our everyday operations and become a handy way to get more out of life. At the same, IoT will generate large amounts of data, way more than what we can even imagine to begin with.  A report from Cisco states that cloud computing will grow by four-fold before 2020, and will reach a whopping 14.1ZB (zettabytes) of data. To give you a perspective, 2015 had a mere 3.9ZB of data.

This explosive growth brings up the question of whether cloud computing can handle this workload. Is the existing infrastructure capable of processing such vast amounts of data? Well, the simple answer is we don’t know. Based on some estimates, it may be possible, but still the infrastructure will be overworked.

To ease out this pressure on cloud computing, we can use what’s called edge computing. This is a technology that allows us to move computation to the edges of the network, thereby distributing the workload among different nodes. In contrast, cloud computing is the process where all the data are collected and processed in a centralized location. Obviously, moving data to the edges can make computing faster and data more accessible since much of this happens near the data source.

These benefits have triggered the big question – can edge computing replace the cloud?

No, because cloud and edge computing are complementary technologies that can work in tandem. There’s no need for one to replace the other completely, rather both centralized and edge processing can happen. This way, more data can be processed without putting excess pressure on the underlying infrastructure, and at the same time, it can give superior service to customers as the workload is distributed.

Additionally, end devices can be made smaller and cheaper because they don’t require any computing capabilities at all. With edge computing, a fair amount of processing will happen at the nodes and the remaining will be handled by centralized cloud computing infrastructure. There’s no need for any processing from the end devices and this could be a huge saving for customers, both in terms of size and cost.

Another benefit of using both the technologies is better management of applications and more resilience. With cloud computing, we’re relying heavily on the network to move our data to a central location and this is going to cause network congestion sooner or later. When we combine edge computing, we can obviously avoid this network congestion and improve the overall performance of our applications.

This integration of both edge and cloud computing opens new possibilities for a connected world because we’re no longer restrained by network  and infrastructure limitations. Exciting times are ahead of us for sure!

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