In elementary terms, Cloud computing is the technology of storing and accessing data/applications over the Internet rather than keeping that information in on-premises computer systems. With low maintenance and charges based on usage, Cloud computing’s layered architecture allows the client to purchase services at different level of abstraction, depending upon their requirements: SaaS, PaaS, IaaS. It gives location independence as users can access these services anywhere with an Internet connection and a standard web browser.
The data is a driving factor for every technology, especially for those witnessing digital transformation through technologies like artificial intelligence, internet of things and machine learning. Edge computing helps in speeding up the processes and reducing the delays in all such data-oriented industries.
So what is Edge computing then? Traditional data centers are located at the middle of a network. Now, significant processing can be completed at smaller local sites which are effectively at the edge of the network. As the amount of data being sent to and through networks continues to grow, organizations are processing data closer to where it’s generated - the network’s edge. Edge computing is all about location. It eliminates the need for data to be sent across long routes to data centers and clouds. Ultimately it is shifting processing power out of the data center and closer to end users.
Edge computing can lower costs by reducing the amount of times your organization has to copy large amounts of data from one system to another and then have to process and analyze it. Storing data and downloading it can be expensive and the more data that is transferred means having to pay higher bandwidth costs.
Edge computing offers a range of value propositions for smart IoT applications and use cases across a variety of industries. Some of the most popular use cases that will depend on Edge Computing to deliver improved performance, security and productivity for enterprises include:
- Traffic Management
- Fleet Management
There is also another term, which you may have heard, which is called “Fog computing” or “Fog networking”:
Fog computing, a term created by Cisco, also refers to extending computing to the edge of the network. Cisco introduced its Fog computing in January 2014 as a way to bring Cloud computing capabilities to the edge of the network.
In essence, Fog is the standard, and Edge is the concept. Fog enables repeatable structure in the Edge computing concept, so enterprises can push compute out of centralized systems or clouds for better and more scalable performance.
Considering the ongoing research and developments in AI and 5G connectivity technologies, and the rising demands of smart industrial IoT applications, Edge Computing may reach maturity faster than expected. Furthermore, Edge computing could potentially eclipse Cloud computing in terms of scale and market cap. But it will not likely replace Cloud (sorry for the clickbait headline), or even reduce its market cap. Rather, as edge matures, Cloud computing will grow along with it, but at a slower pace, thereby providing many back-end and support functions for Edge computing and business operations.