The cloud has served a staggering number of organisations worldwide for a considerable amount of time, and it has been exceedingly efficient at it. Now, however, we’re beginning to anticipate the arrival of the logical evolution of our cloud setup – the edge cloud. Conventional cloud infrastructure can be expensive and require time and resources to scale suitably. Coupled with some other inherent drawbacks, operating on the cloud can seem like a time-consuming, and resource hungry process.
Edge cloud, unlike cloud computing, brings with it choice and flexibility on a variety of parameters – including server loads, bandwidth needs, and more. In previous posts, we’ve discussed what to expect with edge computing on the horizon and, for the uninitiated – how the edge cloud differs from the cloud on a fundamental level. With many businesses now looking to migrate to the edge cloud in anticipation of better performance and superior QoS, here’s a deeper dive:
Why do companies migrate to Edge cloud?
Enhanced Data Security
At first glance, migrating to the edge may indicate a downgrade from a security standpoint, with an increase in the number of devices proportionately increasing the amount of exposure to attacks. But on a closer look, the advantages seem to outweigh the concerns.
Conventional cloud infrastructure being centralised by design, it is susceptible to risks – such as vulnerability to power failures or DDoS attacks.
However, edge cloud, with its decentralised design and devices spread across locations, largely mitigates malicious attacks or infrastructure compromise to a much smaller area of the network. Plus, the devices themselves are likely to be processing significantly lower amounts of data compared to a centralised cloud setup, further lowering the amount of exposure.
One of the primary factors driving migration to the edge cloud is the need to beat network latency – which is a harsh reality in cloud computing. As the data is generated by the IoT devices on the “edge” of the computing network and communicated with central servers for processing, there’s a tiny delay (in milliseconds) that impacts QoS. For sectors that rely heavily on speed – such as healthcare, autonomous vehicles, or high-frequency trading – even the smallest of delays can have disastrous consequences.
Edge computing helps eliminate network latency by virtue of its design – with data processing happening at the edge of the network itself, closer to where it is being generated. This sometimes occurs within edge computing devices themselves, or in edge computing clusters situated in close proximity.
This may arguably be the most critical benefit that businesses may enjoy after migrating to the edge cloud. Traditional cloud computing has to deal with redundancy measures in data storage, as the data has to be transmitted and stored in the cloud setup from the edge devices where the data is stored temporarily. This creates redundant copies of the data leading to increased bandwidth requirements. Edge computing reduces the need to connect all the locations of a business’ data, as the data is largely processed and stored on local devices or clusters.
Cloud services have proven to be extremely reliable in their offerings and operations. Data and resources are available consistently and everywhere, with convenient and customised access. But these advantages can be at the mercy of local conditions – such as network congestion, bandwidth limitations, or simply poor connection quality transmission. Data from central cloud servers has to travel from multiple locations at a fairly large number of times, making it vulnerable to these factors. Consequences include, but are not limited to, data loss, and corruption.
Edge computing, on the other hand, can easily tackle this issue, again, by virtue of having the data situated closer to delivery locations. Real-time processing on the IoT devices deployed helps customers access data in a more reliable manner. Edge clusters and edge devices can temporarily store and process data even when not connected to the cloud. Industries such as offshore oil rigs, remote rural areas, or shipping vehicles stand to gain significantly from edge cloud adoption.
Running a business involves several dynamic needs, from real estate for equipment and employees, to hardware for handling data, bandwidth and more. While private cloud setups can certainly be expensive, even public cloud vendors can run up costs bordering on the prohibitive for many organisations. This is especially true for businesses that may not be able to forecast their future requirements accurately.
The edge cloud can be surprisingly flexible. IoT devices can be conveniently deployed at the edge, closer to users in case of expansion, instead of building new data hubs and modifying or rebuilding for further expansion. With a combination of IoT and cloud to help with data migration, enterprises could set up more devices with smaller processing and analytical capabilities near the end-users to ensure faster scaling.
In this context, no prizes for anticipating the eventual (yet rapid) migration to the edge cloud for a large number of businesses, globally. With 5G on the horizon as well, deploying business data, services, and digital assets to the edge cloud will become an even more compelling proposition.