what is edge computing

Which Way Forward, Cloud or Edge?

This week we look at Edge Computing V’s cloud storage. The million-dollar question is, which one do you choose to futureproof your organisation?

For the last few years, the most commonly talked about trend in IT is the movement of IT functions to the Cloud. Almost everyone is familiar with the concept of backing up data to ‘the Cloud’, and more and more people are becoming used to using Cloud-based services as well.

The Cloud offers organisations of all sizes, and individuals, the facility for storing and processing data on a scale unimaginable until a few years ago. There are many businesses that could not exist now without the Cloud, and new services are being added all the time.

Now the Edge computing, where data handling and processing is done away from large data-centres and closer to the point of use, is rapidly increasing in use too. This is due to two main factors:

Firstly, the enormous increase in the volume of information being generated by modern technology, which will accelerate as the Internet of Things (IOT) and 5G technologies become more widely adopted. This requires more storage and processing close to the point of capture, as the limitations of bandwidth and latency when using a remote data-centre are too great and do not allow for the analysis of information in real-time.

Secondly, security is becoming a bigger issue for more organisations and individuals. There are a couple of very good reasons for this.

The first is the consequences of an organisation losing all of its data or processing capacity, however briefly in the event of a (fortunately) very rare outage of a data-centre; this can be due to failures in the centre itself, or the supporting infrastructure and communications.

The second reason is the theft of information. There is a growing list of data breaches at some very well known companies, such as Apple. Data-centres are very well protected, but they are also enormous and inviting targets for cybercriminals. Breaches are often discovered way too late to mitigate the damage caused by loss of confidential or secret data, and sometimes these thefts may never be discovered. There are a number of examples where credit card details of tens of thousands of individuals have been stolen from databases and the thefts not been discovered until after it has been too late to prevent large scale fraud.

By using a network of Edge computing devices, systems are more resilient to individual outages and security is improved as malicious targeting of a large number of Edge devices is harder and less rewarding to the criminal than the successful breach of a data centre.

The technology, (and jargon) associated with all of these developments is bewildering and is likely to become more so as the pace of technological progress increases. However, as is often the case, there is no good one size fits all answer. The Cloud by itself is no longer the answer to everything for everyone. Businesses will need to find their own mix of Cloud and Edge computing to make them as resilient, sharp and agile as possible.