Over the last decade, cloud computing has revolutionised how businesses in all industries operate. Gone are the days when a company needed to maintain its own data centre while monitoring individual servers and networks. As internet speeds improved across the globe, an opportunity for a new model emerged.
With cloud computing, enterprises can rent computing power and infrastructure resources to match their changing and growing needs. Data is housed in centralised data centres as part of either a public, private or hybrid cloud. For most organisations, moving to the cloud represents a financial saving and a reduction in risk.
However, the evolution of online systems is not complete. Due to the volume of traffic being fed to the cloud, companies are feeling the pain and cost of maintaining wide area networks to handle the bandwidth. This has brought about a new concept, the edge, which we will explore in detail.
What is Edge Computing?
In a pure cloud environment, all data, software and hardware is hosted via a service provider. This means that every transaction or request must travel from the organisation’s local network, out to the internet, and then back. With edge computing, the transportation effort is reduced dramatically.
One of the main focuses with edge computing is to shift data processing from a central location to individual devices. This concept has gained popularity as the Internet of Things (IoT) has matured. Smart devices are now being built with powerful hardware so that they can analyse their own data instead of reporting every byte back to a data centre.
Geography also plays a big role in edge computing. Although cloud providers guarantee high transfer speeds, moving large amounts of data across continents can be slow and costly. With edge computing, the idea is to build smaller data centres near the edge of the wide area network so that traffic can be routed to the closest facility.
What Are The Benefits of Edge Computing?
When combined with the power of the cloud, the trend of edge computing can bring significant benefits to organisations of all sizes. Cost is a key driver; by lowering bandwidth and data storage needs, monthly cloud subscription pricing will see a noticeable decrease.
By optimising traffic patterns and routing with an edge-based architecture, companies can reduce their risk of network latency and slowdowns. The same amount of data can still be processed but now at a faster speed. For IoT devices and smart appliances, even small-time savings can be a differentiator between competitors.
Cybersecurity must be a priority for all cloud-based organisations, and that’s especially true when edge computing is brought into the picture. By decentralising operations between multiple locations and environments, it creates a more significant challenge to keep data and applications secure.
Edge computing is a relatively new concept, but it is susceptible to some of the oldest forms of cyberattack. For example, leaving any node on a distributed network unlocked could allow hackers to infiltrate internal systems. Best practices require an organisation to encrypt all data transmissions and ensure the physical security of all sites.
When combined, the concepts of cloud computing and edge computing can create significant benefits for a company, regardless of its size or industry. Edge computing takes advantage of the cloud-hosting model while allowing organisations to configure their own distributed architecture and shift traffic to localised regions. This can reduce costs while building a more efficient global network.