The rise of the two most popular computing models has created somewhat of an edge computing vs cloud computing debate. Although each model has its clear advantages, neither seems to be the ultimate magic-bullet for any situation.
On initial inspection, the centralised design of cloud computing is the clear leader. The sticking-point of such an off-net solution is latency, lots of latency. For most cloud-based applications and services this additional latency is acceptable, but with emerging real-time technologies, a different approach is needed; edge computing.
At Securus, we realise that no single solution fits all. Rather than hammering a square peg into a round hole, we have several tailored compute solutions that will be ideal for your specific business needs. Let’s discuss both ‘edge’ and ‘cloud’ in more detail for this edge computing vs cloud computing debate.
Edge Computing Vs Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is the ideal design model for remote data storage and off-net server/application processing. Often provided as a pay-as-you-go model, cloud computing is incredibly scalable and you only pay for the services you need, when you need them.
Edge computing is a technology that often augments cloud networks. It is a distributed model that keeps data storage and compute power close to the user or data source rather than in the cloud.
Once processed on the edge, the resulting data can then move through the cloud for additional compute, eliminating lag time and saving bandwidth in the process.
To better understand edge computing vs cloud computing, let’s take a closer look at edge computing vs cloud computing, and how they can work together to create a more robust enterprise network for any organisation.
What Is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is a method of delivery for on-demand computing services. Such services include just about anything from remote storage to applications and additional processing power. Most often, these services are delivered over the internet, and clients pay as they go.
Companies rent the computing infrastructure from a cloud service provider, such as Securus, rather than owning it. By doing so, companies avoid the upfront costs and intricate work of owning and then maintaining their own IT infrastructure.
The flexibility of Cloud computing means they instead pay for what they use and when they use it. Cloud computing service providers can deliver the same services to multiple clients, scaling them to each customer’s needs.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
The following is an overview of the main benefits of cloud computing.
With cloud computing, a business can host its projects, data, and applications centrally in the cloud’s infrastructure rather than on locally managed servers and mass storage arrays.
Acting as the cloud computing service provider, Securus handles all of the day-to-day running and support of the server infrastructure. All you need to do is focus on your users and the data they urgently need.
Furthermore, on our platform, you can easily set user access levels, protecting data and increasing collaboration where desired. Users access data from the same source, which streamlines collaborative efforts and version control for shared documents.
Unlimited Storage Capacity
Cloud computing enables you to store, access, and retrieve data from remote storage services that are simple and scalable. Your network then can quickly scale up (or down) your storage capacity without the need to procure and provision local storage devices, such as RAID clusters.
On most plans, you only pay for the storage capacity you need rather than a prescribed amount. Because you are working with a provider, your IT staff does not have to oversee any daily maintenance tasks associated with the storage infrastructure.
Reduced Server Hardware Costs
Migrating to cloud computing reduces the cost of maintaining and managing your company’s IT systems. Because you are not purchasing the associated physical equipment, you reduce costs by using the resources that come with the cloud computing services provider.
Operating costs are lower as you do not need to invest in future platform upgrades, new hardware and software, added staff, and even the extra consumption costs involved in running your network in-house.
Fast/Central Provisioning of Services
One significant advantage to cloud computing is the speed at which you can provision services. Setting up an IT infrastructure in-house can take weeks or even months. However, cloud systems can deploy in a day, if not a few hours.
Cloud service providers have systems preconfigured and can customise them to your organisation’s specifications quickly. Your cloud service provider can deploy mission-critical technology with minimal provisioning time.
Increased Team Collaboration
Cloud computing simplifies your collaboration processes. Team members can view and share information securely over the cloud-based network. Furthermore, cloud networks can support applications with social spaces for connecting employees working remotely or in separate offices, thus increasing engagement.
Of course, collaboration is possible without a cloud network, but it is easier and more effective with a cloud-computing solution as the delivery platform.
Mobility and Flexibility
With cloud computing, your users have mobile access to corporate data via their smartphones and other mobile devices. Staff who spend much time away from the office due to travel or long commutes can use the mobile feature to keep connected to clients and other co-workers.
The flexibility that comes with a cloud solution gives your IT department more time to concentrate on other business goals, including customer satisfaction. Your staff doesn’t have to manage the infrastructure, nor does it have to devote time to upgrades and patches.
Also, a cloud computing solution is easily scalable. Should your company need more bandwidth or additional services, the provider can accommodate you almost instantly.
5 Cloud Computing Use Cases
The following are five use cases that illustrate the significant advantages of cloud computing.
1. Cloud Storage and Backup
As most of us know, storing data in the cloud is essential for businesses of all sizes. A cloud storage provider is responsible for the servers and applications upon which your data is stored and processed. This reduces the associated time spent and maintenance costs to your company.
Most cloud storage providers offer either a flat rate for data storage or a pay-as-you-use model, and the company can choose the most cost-efficient package for them.
2. Software as a Service (SaaS)
As companies grow, they gather more data. SaaS technology has become a preferred way to keep up with the demand to organise and maintain data. Providers market automation tools, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications, and more as part of SaaS services.
All these remote applications aid businesses to do their job more efficiently. This service is often referred to as “software on demand” because SaaS solutions are centrally hosted in the cloud, where users can access from anywhere, at any time.
3. Rapid Server Resource Provisioning
As mentioned earlier, businesses will eventually need to expand their networks and allocate additional resources to accommodate their growing needs. If most of your resources are already in the cloud, you can do this with ease. Securus can even help do this for you.
Your organisation can request new resources to be applied automatically when a certain threshold is met, or submit a change request to the provider. You can also request to scale down when needed to reduce unnecessary costs.
4. Big Data Analytics
For those businesses that wish to take advantage of Big Data, the way retail powerhouses Amazon and now Facebook does, cloud computing makes that possible. For example, Amazon collects information on consumer-likes, buying trends, and dislikes and analyses that data to predict future purchases.
The data is available, though it takes tools using the greater (and often far cheaper) compute power offered by cloud computing. The resulting data can be used to analyse and apply to sales, marketing, and Research and Development (R&D) strategies.
5. Team Collaboration
Whether yours is a global organisation or a smaller business with one office, cloud solutions can increase collaboration among your staff. With cloud solutions, multiple users can work within the same work environment, using the same tools, applications, and documents simultaneously. This means your staff can streamline development timelines because you are eliminating potential team-silos within the process.
What is Edge Computing?
Computing today is more interconnected than ever, and demand is rising for faster speeds. Wireless networking technologies such as 4G, 5G and WiFi are providing the bandwidth needed. Cloud platforms are bringing networks online quickly and expanding them at the touch of a button.
Edge computing is all about speed. By bringing data collection, processing, and reporting as close to the end-user (on the ‘edge’ of the network) as possible, latency is massively reduced.
With the Securus edge computing solution, we can distribute your computing resources and application services along the communication path through a decentralised computing infrastructure. Doing so means tasks that involve collecting data and other user actions can be completed in real-time.
Overall, edge computing improves network performance by bringing some of the computing power and data as near to the user as possible. Some of this data can then be sent to the cloud for further analysis.
Benefits of Edge Computing
The following are the significant benefits of edge computing.
By confining data collection to the edge, analysis happens where the data is created, thus significantly reducing latency, resulting in faster response times. Your data becomes more relevant and actionable. Edge computing can also reduce your network’s WAN traffic loads, improving overall performance across all enterprise services and applications.
LAN Speed Bandwidth
When edge devices store and process ensuing data locally, the reliability of your network improves. Microdata centres are pre-built and can operate within most environments. This means that temporary disruptions due to intermittent connectivity will not impact smart device operations when they temporarily lose cloud access.
Also, every network has a limit to the amount of data it can transmit at one time. While you can expand your bandwidth when needed, business growth often means pushing your bandwidth infrastructure to the limits at some point.
Reduced WAN Costs
Edge computing enables you to categorise your data, allowing you to decide which data to store locally and what to send to the cloud. Retaining data in your edge locations reduces your need (and cost) for WAN bandwidth. Edge doesn’t eliminate the need for the cloud. Instead, it optimises the flow of your data so that you can keep operating costs reduced.
Doing so has the added benefit of increasing data redundancy, as data created at the edge can be stored there, at least temporarily, and if sent to the cloud, it can be stored once again.
Local Computing for Real-time Data
When analytical devices such as IoT are located close to the edge, real-time applications can essentially provide near-time or real-time feedback. Such optimisation is a priority for many processes, such as those used with machine-to-machine applications and autonomous vehicles. In these cases, analytics are critical for safety as well as efficiency.
Data breaches are expensive, especially in the healthcare and financial sectors. Compliance is simplified with edge computing because data can reside locally rather than moving to the cloud. When sensitive data travels, especially due to regulations such as GDPR, the compliance requirements increase exponentially.
Security and Privacy
Because sensitive data doesn’t always need to be transported to the cloud for processing, your network’s overall security increases. If all your data feeds to the cloud, your business and operating processes become all the more vulnerable.
Edge computing reduces the possibility of man-in-the-middle security breaches as there is less data that can be intercepted. When the network analyses data locally, it is protected by the security of the on-premise enterprise.
More Suited for IoT Devices
Edge computing’s popularity is primarily due to the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT innovations require enterprises to evaluate best practices for processing IoT device data.
IoT and edge computing are ideal partners as together they can reduce WAN transport costs and improve service quality. Pairing these two technologies means you can process and analyse data autonomously and immediately.
5 Edge Computing Use Cases
Below are five use cases that describe the advantages of Edge computing.
1. Cached Content Delivery
Caching content at the edge (edge caching), whether it is a video, web page, or audio file, creates a better experience for the end-user. Latency is reduced to milliseconds.
While this is not a new technology, it’s mostly used by Content Delivery Network (CDN) providers like Limelight and Netflix. There is nothing preventing cloud service providers from employing edge caching to create micro-cache at their networks’ edge.
2. Manufacturing Efficiency
Edge computing significantly reduces overall network delay for IoT devices that collect and analyse real-time manufacturing data. Connected devices will consume less backhaul bandwidth when they process most of that data at the edge via an IoT Gateway rather than in the cloud. If the uplink goes down for a short period, the IoT gateway will continue to operate so that processes continue uninterrupted.
3. IoT For Retail
IoT also brings innovation to the retail sector. It enabled bricks-and-mortar stores to enhance the customer experience. For example, in-store sales staff can use handheld devices to check stock, show customers additional product information, and take payments on the spot rather than directing customers to a register. Customers can also purchase in-store using direct click-and-collect.
4. Enhanced Healthcare Sector
IoT medical devices such as wearable sensors and blood glucose monitors, for example, enable healthcare professionals to gather, monitor, and analyse real-time patient data. Patients wear these devices at home, where they generate valuable Patient-Generated Health Data (PGHD).
Edge computing applications aid in collecting and analysing PGHD by keeping much of the critical processing tasks on the devices, which are located on the edge of the network. The enables medical staff to receive real-time analytics and respond quickly.
5. Autonomous Vehicles
As R&D continues for autonomous vehicles, engineers find that the data transmitted from these vehicles enter the same IoT traffic flow as mobile phones. The challenge comes in securing data transfer and eliminating lag so that these vehicles can operate on open highways.
Edge computing architecture will make it possible for autonomous vehicles to collect, share, and process data with almost no latency. Edge-enabled vehicles can connect to a network of edge data centres, separated from mobile phone data.
This allows the transmission of critical data to-and-from auto manufacturers, emergency response services, and other entities as required.
Will Edge Computing Replace Cloud Computing?
For the past ten or so years, centralised cloud computing has been a standard delivery platform. With a data centre focus, compute, and storage space is extensive and centralised.
Eventually, however, every network reaches a bandwidth limit. Connectivity remains an issue as well, as more devices add to the network load. Latency is also an ongoing issue, especially for emerging IoT related services.
For these reasons, Edge computing and cloud computing are two technologies that go hand in hand to create stable, secure, fast networks across industries. Edge computing serves to add to cloud computing architectures’ flexibility as organisations expand cloud capabilities across WAN networks. This flexibility is created by way of smaller deployments at the network Edge.
New applications and services are continually increasing the demand for an architecture that provides data security, analytics, speed, low cost, and ease of use. Our dive into edge computing vs cloud computing confirms that both models offer certain benefits.
However, when these architectures are combined, organisations will experience maximum benefit from both. With edge computing, the cloud’s robustness, simplicity, and flexibility can now be extended to accommodate evolving demands or real-time data and services.
Want To Embrace Edge & Cloud?
Securus Communications can help your business strike the perfect balance between edge and cloud computing models. Get in touch to find out more about how Securus edge and cloud solutions.