Recently there has been a lot of talk about edge computing and how it will most certainly “edge” out cloud computing in the future. Since this “news” is resurfacing in the new year, it’s probably best to take some time to explain what these two exactly are and why that initial statement may not be as true as what the news is reporting.
First of all, edge computing is often also called “on-premise” because the servers are located on-site for the particular business or organization. So, anything that would move through IoT devices or sensors are moved closer to the actual user, or within the same location. This includes storage and application resources.
One of the main reasons businesses prefer edge computing is due to the reduced latency. When network equipment is in a fixed location close to the devices that will be running off of it, it increases the reliability of the network. This ensures there is no delay in information as it switches between routers, firewalls, and the server. With that being said network jitter is also greatly reduced. IP networks already have some jitter that can cause uncertainty when the IoT device and computing are too far apart. By bringing them closer together the network can better support real-time applications. Security is also a plus when it comes to edge computing. Since the network is in a fixed physical location, it can be easily monitored with different security methods.
One key difference that many don’t understand is that edge computing doesn’t act as a data center. It is only a place where data exists at the end of the network. In order to store any surmountable amount of data, a data center such as the cloud is a perfect option. Moving data through the edge with a terrible network connection defeats the purpose. Majority of the time, edge computing is wired into the physical servers. Then finally, managing edge computing can be a bit challenging depending on the equipment being used. However, if you have a tech company managing these systems it could be easier.
So, what is the cloud? Exactly that. Think of it as the data center, storing and transmitting network data. It’s become increasingly popular since data can be stored away from your physical network. Another reason for its popularity over the years is its impeccable backup ability. It’s inexpensive and easy to access in case of a hardware compromise. If edge hardware becomes compromised it can cost thousands of dollars to recover that data. Next is an increase in collaboration and communication. The cloud allows for app sharing and easily pulling data, so employees can easily work remote and still get in touch with whoever they need. Then finally, the cloud is environmentally friendly. It doesn’t create the same carbon footprint like physical (edge) locations do. In fact, the decreased energy use can save a company a huge amount of money.
There are cons to the cloud as well. If your internet connectivity is lacking, it will be almost impossible to upload and share information from that platform. People that live in areas that lack a strong internet connection often go with edge computing because of latency the need for fast real-time data solutions. The cloud also usually requires an ongoing cost for maintenance and storage. Some organizations don’t like long-term on-going costs, but it can be beneficial when it comes to backup. Finally, is security. Who do you trust to keep your data secure? That is a constant question posed by potential cloud users. It’s not that the cloud is not secure, moreover, it’s how secure are your IT people.
So, which should you go with? Edge or “on-premise” computing or cloud computing? It’s your business and your important data. Ensure you make the right decision that fits your business rather than going with what is said to be the next big thing.