Edge Computing vs. Cloud Computing | Mutually Exclusive or Complementary Processes?

Edge computing and cloud computing are two methods getting a lot of press lately. The phrases are often connected, yet they represent distinctly different processes. While cloud computing can exist without edge computing, the reverse isn’t necessarily true. That’s because edge computing optimizes cloud computing systems through data processing at the edge of the network.

When the two computing methods are paired together they create a more dynamic computing network. Working together, they open up endless possibilities for quicker responsiveness, more effective data processing, more cooperative networks, and the proliferation of the Internet of Things.

Cloud computing in business has changed both the global network and the way business is conducted.

Here, we’ll examine both edge computing and cloud computing and consider how the two can work together to create a more adroit, intuitive network that benefits businesses and end users alike.

What is Edge Computing

So, what is edge computing exactly? Simply put, it refers to data processing at the edge of the network.
That means that data processing that is normally completed in a cloud or a centralized data processing warehouse is conducted in machines close to the source of the data, at the edge of the network.

Conducting data processing at the edge of the network minimizes the network bandwidth required to process and perform analytics and knowledge generation. Because the processing is occurring at the edge of the network, it creates a more reactive, dynamic, and intuitive processing technique.

Benefits of Edge Computing

As you can imagine, edge computing has many benefits. The first, and most obvious benefit is decreased traffic. Because edge computing occurs near the data source, traffic is significantly minimized. This reduces data transmission costs, reduces latency, and most importantly improves the quality of service.

What’s more, it frees up network bandwidth for more important functions like remote communications, data storage, and more. As cloud computing in business increases, bandwidth optimizing measures like edge computing will help maintain robust network communication and minimize costs.

Second, it can improve security. Data can become exposed the longer it travels through networks, switches, and computers. Because data remains at the edge, or doesn’t leave the device, there are fewer opportunities for data to become compromised. Additionally, edge computing can isolate environments to protect them from external attacks.

Finally, it de-emphasizes the core computing environment. This improves security and reduces bottlenecking. That means that data and knowledge can flow more freely between devices as well as eliminates a point of potential failure due to too much traffic directed to a centralized location. Even more, it allows edge computing devices to react to events in real time.

Technologies Impacted by Edge Computing

Edge computing is a dynamic new way to leverage cloud computing resources to fit the growing needs of an ever mobile, technologically dependent world. Edge computing composes a wide range of technologies, including:

  • Wireless sensor networks
  • Mobile signature analysis
  • Peer to peer ad hoc networking
  • Mobile edge computing
  • Distributed data storage and retrieval
  • Autonomic self-healing networks
  • Mobile data acquisition

It’s obvious that edge computing will be a central component of future networks. That’s because it moves applications, data, and computing away from a centralized location and conducts the computing in the logical location of a given network; close to the edge.

Edge computing will impact a number of technologies we interact with everyday, including ATMs, drilling and construction operations, security cameras, credit and debit card retail behavior, auto traffic and congestion information, and a lot more.
It will also impact technologies that are just emerging, like autonomous drones, augmented reality, and self-driving cars.

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) isn’t science fiction, it’s a business fact. And it’s so much more than just a smart thermostat or a WiFi connected refrigerator.

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an agency within the United Nations tasked with information and communications technologies, the IoT is the “global infrastructure for the information society, enabling advanced services by interconnecting (physical and virtual) things based on existing and evolving interoperable information and communications technology.”

In other words, it is the network created by connected smart devices that collect, analyze, and exchange data. It’s easy to see why edge computing is such an important aspect of the Internet of Things. Edge computing allows those “things” to interconnect, communicate, and share data.

A central aspect to successful implementation of the Internet of Things is the ability to process device generated data that has meaning. This is accomplished by edge computing. Because edge computing conducts data processing at the edge of the network, close to the source of the data, it is the perfect computing method to utilize the possibilities provided by the Internet of Things.

The Strength of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is a networked based computing method that utilizes shared data processing resources. It grants end users the ability to access large scale networked servers that process and store data using devices with internet capabilities.

One of the key strengths of cloud computing is the cost saving infrastructure. Small businesses and individuals gain access to the same data processing and storage capabilities only previously available to large scale organizations with the resources to house and maintain large data processing servers.

Obviously, it’s still vitally important to utilize cloud computing in business. Among many business applications, cloud computing is still necessary for large scale analytics, for inventory data management, and for large customer databases.

Because these data processing operations require large scale data processing and storage it’s only logical that they would occur in centralized data processing servers, either public or private.

A Replacement for the Cloud?

Will edge computing replace the cloud? It probably won’t. As of now, edge computing is not in direct competition with cloud computing. Instead, the two are complementary and work in tandem to bring data analytics and reactive networks to fuller realization. Cloud computing in business also isn’t going anywhere soon, in fact its use will only continue to spread as it’s still a valuable and necessary aspect of the global network and the ever-growing Internet of Things.

The Value of Data

Cloud computing is obviously valuable for large scale data storage and processing, so what about data that needs to be processed, analyzed, and utilized quickly and at the source? Edge computing creates a more reactive process that does just that. Some data is valuable only in how quickly it can be analyzed and applied.

Financial institutions provide a great example of the reactive capabilities of edge computing. Financial institutions use data to identify and deny fraudulent transactions. If centralized data processing is utilized for this purpose the communication lag time between access point (ATM or retail checkout) and centralized data processors may take too long to notice aberrant behavior.

Many financial institutions are realizing the potential of edge computing to enable real time analytics from the access point at the edge of the network. By optimizing the end device to conduct minimal, directed data processing, noncompliant financial transactions can be immediately identified and denied based on behavioral patterns, even if the card is still in good standing.

A Glimpse Into the Future

Edge computing and the Internet of Things use cloud computing resources to give us a glimpse into the reactive, intelligent future of technology and data processing. As data processing moves farther away from centralized servers and cloud networks and becomes more ingrained at the edge, we’ll begin to see new patterns in technology and even in our day to day lives.

Driverless cars and delivery drones may seem like science fiction, but these devices are just around the corner. Edge computing will be a primary catalyst for the success of these devices. Edge computing gives these devices the ability to conduct data analysis and processing in real time, providing reactive dexterity that approaches artificial intelligence. It is the cloud that provides long term processing of this data, that will in turn aid in edge computing techniques.

A Great Team

So, will edge computing replace the cloud or are the two complementary models? As of now, edge computing needs the cloud to operate and in fact the two processes complement each other quite well.
Cloud computing in business is still incredibly valuable for a number of things. It allows for large scale data storage, processing, and analytics and works well as a general purpose platform. What’s more, the cloud provides the infrastructure for a mobile, flexible workforce and workflow.

Edge computing provides the opportunity to create purposeful data processing applications for devices at the edge of the network. This creates the perfect environment for data analysis and processing in real time. Edge computing provides an infrastructure that will allow the Internet of Things to flourish.

Very Complementary

The two technologies support each other. Edge computing is a way to accelerate and improve cloud performance for mobile devices. Edge and cloud computing represent the move toward a more reactive, dynamic network that provides the structure for the coming of the Internet of Things. Edge computing and cloud computing are not mutually exclusive, in fact they are complementary processes that will continue to interconnect, grow, and enable the technology of the future.

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