Did you know that all IoT devices in your surroundings receive and transmit your data onto the cloud, either for storage or for processing? A better analogy to explain would be through an example of food delivery. Food, when delivered from a nearby restaurant, is almost always guaranteed to be hot and tasty upon delivery. The farther the food is coming, the more the chances of it getting cold and may be stale.
Applying this analogy to the world of tech helps us understand cloud better. Currently most cloud computing services are being run by very few companies: Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and IBM. It is difficult for these cloud services to handle billions of devices, causing databases to get overworked and experience latency in the processing of the given tasks.
This is where edge computing steps in. In this blog understand the differences between edge and cloud computing and know why edge is a better alternative.
What is Edge Computing?
Edge computing is a form of data computing wherein some data is distributed in decentralised data centres, and some stored in the local network, referred to as the ‘Edge’. It is about placing workloads closer to the edge where the data is created, and actions are taken. It optimises IoT devices and web applications. Edge computing is reshaping IT and business computing. Modern businesses have data at their core as data provides valuable insights and real-time control via edge computing.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud is a network of servers worldwide acting as one massive hard drive. Cloud is accessed every time a user signs into their Gmail, Netflix or Instagram accounts. Before Cloud, the traditional way of backing up data was storing them on CD/DVD drives. Some common examples of clouds are the Google and Apple cloud storage systems. Files can be accessed anytime and from anywhere when connected to the internet when stored in a cloud.
Edge computing vs cloud computing
When we compare the two forms of data storage, Edge computing is better than Cloud storage. Although both are similar in their key purposes, the main difference is the use of remote data centres in the Cloud. At the same time, Edge computing involves partial use of local drives.
Some reasons why Edge computing is better than Cloud are listed below.
- Reduced Latency
Latency is the measure of time that elapses in the communication between the client initiating the communication and the response received. It is usually measured in milliseconds. Edge computing provides a faster user experience than Cloud. This is because the data is processed at the edge, reducing or eliminating the data travel. Although latency is not a very big deal, it can sometimes have massive impacts that can even cause serious problems.
For example, suppose latency occurs in self-driving cars. In that case, it can be fatal for passengers sitting inside the car as the decision-making and analysis procedure is delayed, and the accident might have already happened. Latency is also often experienced in other uses of the Cloud, such as virtual assistants that rely on the main server for data and requires time to produce results.
Safety is also another advantage Edge computing has over Cloud. When the control over data is local, it is safer and offers peace of mind. However, when located far from the data centre, devices are not easy to track digitally and physically. Also, because of the distributed nature of edge networks, if a breach occurs in one area, then the compromised portions can be specifically secluded rather than shutting down everything. Thus, because of better security, edge computing is better than Cloud.
- Better Data Management
A lot of data is generally available in a network, and a good amount of it is useless information. Therefore, data management is a core requirement and necessity in a network. Since data is transmitted to the core, edge networks can filter and pass only certain types of information. This frees up resources within the network and improves the quality of data insights generated by big data applications.
The overall traffic volume flowing through the central servers reduces because of data kept on edge networks. Hence, freeing bandwidth in the whole system eliminates unnecessary task processing. The major benefit users get from this is the no competition between the local and global regions for bandwidth resources.
These are some of the advantages Edge computing has over Cloud. The advantages of the Cloud are reliability and uninterrupted connection. However, edge computing is not perfect and has a lot of challenges.
Challenges of Edge Computing
If a device’s power source is cut, it becomes difficult to process data in a local network. Therefore, a backup supply or an alternative power source is essential to resolve the issue.
Edge computing will not be able to contain a lot of local data if there are not a lot of local servers. Unfortunately, servers sometimes take up a lot of space, and proper storage spaces are required to contain the local servers.
3. Maintenance Cost
Local servers are required to be monitored and repaired. It is an additional cost and requires hefty sums to carry out these processes.
Uses of Edge Computing
- Oil and Gas Industry
Real-time remote monitoring has a crucial role in the oil and gas industry. Machinery powered by IoT is deployed at isolated sites to prevent disasters.
- Smart Homes
Edge computing devices collect information from within the house to perform fundamental tasks. This is the basic working principle of smart homes.
Machinery is allowed to make decisions without human interventions via Edge computing. In addition, the decentralised network design reduces time and minimises cost.
Neither Edge nor Cloud is perfect; its application and usage give it an edge over the other. However, even today, many companies still safely and efficiently rely on Cloud-based storage and are doing good in their sectors.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What are some real-life examples of Edge computing?
Smart speakers, smart home appliances and automatic electric self-driving cars (like Tesla) are popular examples.
2. What is Fog computing?
Fog computing is a decentralised computing network in which data, storage and applications are located between the data source and the Cloud.
- What are some popular cloud platforms?
Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services and IBM cloud are some of the best cloud computing services.