Make sense of edge computing vs. cloud computing

The internet of things is real, and it’s a real part of the cloud. A key challenge is how you can get data processed from so many devices. Cisco Systems predicts that cloud traffic is likely to rise nearly fourfold by 2020, increasing 3.9 zettabytes (ZB) per year in 2015 (the latest full year for which data is available) to 14.1ZB per year by 2020.

As a result, we could have the cloud computing perfect storm from the growth of IoT. After all, IoT is about processing device-generated data that is meaningful, and cloud computing is about using data from centralized computing and storage. Growth rates of both can easily become unmanageable.

So what do we do? The answer is something called “edge computing.” We already know that computing at the edge pushes most of the data processing out to the edge of the network, close to the source of the data. Then it’s a matter of dividing the processing between the edge and the centralized system, meaning a public cloud such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure. 

That may sound a like a client/server architecture, which also involved figuring out what to do at the client versus at the server. For IoT and any highly distributed applications, you’ve essentially got a client/network edge/server architecture going on, or — if your devices can’t do any processing themselves, a network edge/server architecture.

The goal is to process near the device the data that it needs quickly, such as to act on. There are hundreds of use cases where reaction time is the key value of the IoT system, and consistently sending the data back to a centralized cloud prevents that value from happening.

You would still use the cloud for processing that is either not as time-sensitive or is not needed by the device, such as for big data analytics on data from all your devices.

There’s another dimension to this: edge computing and cloud computing are two very different things. One does not replace the other. But too many articles confuse IT pros by suggesting that edge computing will displace cloud computing. It’s no more true than saying PCs would displace the datacenter.

It makes perfect sense to create purpose-built edge computing-based applications, such as an app that places data processing in a sensor to quickly process reactions to alarms. But you’re not going to place your inventory-control data and applications at the edge — moving all compute to the edge would result in a distributed, unsecured, and unmanageable mess.

All the public cloud providers have IoT strategies and technology stacks that include, or will include, edge computing. Edge and cloud computing can and do work well together, but edge computing is for purpose-built systems with special needs.   Cloud computing is a more general-purpose platform that also can work with purpose-built systems in that old client/server model.

Powered by WPeMatico

Good news: CIOs have stopped fighting the cloud

I call them the “folded-arm gang”: those CIOs who invite the “cloud guy” into a meeting and then push back on everything you say and do so for no good technical reason. It’s frustrating.

But things are changing. CIOs who once pushed back on cloud computing have either changed their minds or have been fired. Either reason is fine with me.

You can see that shift in a study by Trustmarque that shows more than nine in ten U.K. CIOs and IT decision-makers polled said they plan to migrate their organizations on-premises workloads to the cloud within five years. The study polled 200 CIOs and senior IT decision-makers in enterprises with more than 1,000 employees.

Most surprising is that public-sector U.K. CIOs were more likely to move quickly compared to their private-sector counterparts. That’s not the case in the U.S., where public-sector CIOs are way behind the private sector.

The stated driver for the shift was mostly cost savings, cited by 61 percent. A close second was scalability, at 60 percent. Solving that pesky business agility problem came in at 51 percent. A bit less than half (49 percent) said that outplacing existing infrastructure (such as storage and compute) was the primary driver for migrating to the cloud. Indeed, more than half of CIOs said the complexity of their existing IT infrastructure was causing too much latency.

When it comes to technology deployments, the U.S. tends to be a bit more aggressive than the U.K., so add 10 percent to these numbers to get American CIOs’ take on cloud computing.

For the last decade, CIOs have a big barrier to cloud adoption. That’s partly because maintaining the status quo meant being employed another year; deployment disasters rivaled security breaches as a sure path to the exit door. So avoiding a risk was considered a victory.

These days, CEOs and boards of directors are wise to the value of IT, and thus the value of cloud computing, as a strategic business advantage. They ask much more of their CIOs than they did in the past. This forces everyone from the top down to understand more about cloud, and for CIOs to actually do the work. I’ll take it.

Powered by WPeMatico