March 17

Cloud and Edge Computing: What Are Their Differences and Similarities?

The concept of data transmission efficiency is growing in importance now that big data has become a big issue, thanks to the spread of IoT devices. Many companies are deciding between cloud computing and edge computing as a path to future sustainability. Here's a look at the differences between these two popular types of data management.

Cloud vs. Edge

IT industry analysts project that 75 percent of enterprise data will involve edge computing by 2025. Cloud computing, in which data is computed at a private or third-party data center, is the older method, while edge computing is newer and involves computing at network edges. The key difference is physical distance between the data source and its endpoint device.

Cluttered Bandwidth Issues

Bandwidth challenges are at the forefront of the emerging business technology landscape. In many ways, 5G will be the solution for larger organizations to transmit vast endless data from point A to point B. But a large percentage of businesses will try to delay 5G adoption to cut costs while monitoring its development.

Even with 5G, there's still a need to make data transmission as efficient as possible. Edge computing contributes to greater bandwidth efficiency by reducing the distance data must travel to be processed. In this sense, the ideal location for computing is within the device itself, but that requires more processing power. By narrowing the gap in which data must travel from storage to devices, there will likely be fewer latency problems.

Anytime, Anywhere Data Access

The strength of cloud computing is that it allows users to access data from any location in the world on any device. The computing is conducted at a centralized place either on a local or remote machine rather than the source that feeds the data to the server. As data began to blossom wildly in the cloud, the concept of edge computing emerged as an alternative.

Weighing Cloud vs. Edge Computing Differences

Both cloud and edge computing serve valuable purposes. Online payment processing was made possible by the cloud's centralized data storage. Cloud services also redefined the roles of tech giants such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. Additionally, many cloud software companies began offering their applications through cloud subscriptions to replace hardcopy media such as CDs and DVDs. With so many different applications, cloud services are now at the heart of many online businesses.

Cloud Advantages

Deciding between cloud and edge computing comes down to your business operations and goals. If your office space is limited to the point of restricting the number of nodes for doing business, the cloud can offer an efficient solution. Cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, for instance, have made it easier for companies to allow remote work opportunities for their employees without requiring a software license for every computer.

Because the cloud has also led to cost-savings on multi-user software licensing, it was designed to serve many users at once at an affordable cost. A business can now exist completely in the cloud, meaning you don't have to store data on your own computers. Through various cloud services, you can cut upfront hardware and software costs, which is the massive appeal of cloud computing.

Moreover, through the cloud, you can access endless Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms, which would otherwise take up massive space on hard drives. This solution makes robust industry software scalable and affordable. The cloud also reduces the need for an in-house IT team since security and network management are handled by offsite data centers, with exception for local private clouds.

Edge Advantages

Manufacturers, warehouses, and utilities benefit from edge computing due to the vast amount of space these facilities occupy. Imagine stepping into a giant warehouse and being asked to locate a specific product within a large inventory catalog. With edge computing, you can easily do so by using a scanning device that connects with the RFID chip in the product or with a video camera. Edge computing allows you to locate any item in seconds.

Edge computing relies on neither the cloud nor data centers. This model of using connected devices that comprise data processing also saves time and money. The strength of edge computing is that it's more agile than the cloud, allowing for quicker access to data. The cloud can have latency issues if the servers are busy or if the network gets too congested. Problems associated with edge computing, by contrast, are easier to troubleshoot.

Another advantage to edge computing is privacy. While there typically aren't privacy issues with third-party data centers, you still don't know if someone who works there might ever get tired of their job and wants to secretly sell information to cybercriminals. When your company is generating a wealth of valuable data, you don't want the information to get into the wrong hands. In that sense, edge computing reduces privacy risks.

Local Storage Limitations

When edge computing is combined with IoT technology, it allows you to conserve bandwidth on your network. It gives you better control of resource allocation. On the other hand, if your office space has physical limitations, you are better off storing data in the cloud. Certain hardcopy documents may need to be retained but aiming toward paperless solutions via the cloud reduces the need for physical space. Ultimately, the cloud has helped to reduce paper waste via online faxing and several other traditional office functions that have been digitized.

Access to Real-time Data

If you need to store a high volume of data on local servers, consider edge computing. This solution is viable if you expect to deploy hundreds of IoT devices on your network to monitor processes in real time. You'll have much more network visibility and transparency when you are in control of all your own hardware and software.

Collaboration Capabilities

The cloud is a viable solution for seamless online collaboration between multiple team members in different remote locations. The cloud is the answer if you want to build a global company with team members from various parts of the world.

What About Fog Computing?

Fog computing is a hybrid model of edge and cloud computing blended together. It allows for IoT data to be accessed easier in real time as the cloud is stretched to the network edge. This hybrid model, which is ideal for smart cities, allows for connecting with different digital environments without concerns surrounding local storage.

Why It Matters

The future of computing is already active to anyone who runs a network. There are already over 50 billion devices connected to wireless networks. So, imagine how exponentially more the internet will be populated with IoT devices a decade from now. Self-driving cars and robots, for example, will generate a tremendous amount of data just in one hour. Video monitoring systems that collect enormous amounts of data are also expected to proliferate.

The more businesses go digital, the more managers must decide between cloud and edge computing. Each has its pros and cons and can streamline an operation. Your decision will be based on who needs to access data, how fast they need it and the amount of physical space your organization occupies. The future is clear: sensors will be everywhere, and businesses need to plan how to use them efficiently.


cloud computing, connectivity, data management, edge technology, fog computing, IoT

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