The Deciding Factors in Cloud vs. Edge

Digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic has forced businesses into evaluating where computing should take place.

Edge and Cloud

The rush to support work from home, remote monitoring, automation and other processes that helped businesses operate during COVID-19 drove many operations toward cloud infrastructure and applications. However, some operations discovered a shift from on-premises infrastructure to a totally cloud-based environment isn’t the best solution for all use cases, and edge computing emerged in some situations as a more practical and effective choice. As businesses and enterprises are faced with the cloud vs. edge decision, they’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of each and design an IT environment optimized for their operations. Here’s the view from both sides.

Cloud Migration Continues

Dustin Milberg, Field CTO Cloud Services at InterVision, says, “As the effects of COVID-19 linger throughout 2021, businesses will look to lay a foundation for increased agility. Cloud will take a key focus in this goal, given its benefits of improved accessibility, scalability and flexibility.”

He adds, however, “Not everyone will be successful in the cloud. Those companies who view cloud as a journey and not a destination will see more success. This is because simply ‘getting to the cloud’ doesn’t automatically mean you’ll see improved performance and spending. Instead, cloud is an iterative process of optimization and creating security-by-design to match a company’s goals, both now and in the long term.”

Some of the challenges that cloud presents are using cloud in remote locations, such as at a remote drilling site or when monitoring a hydroelectric power station. First, it can be difficult to connect remote sites to a network, and it may be cost-prohibitive, especially if the site is temporary. Latency can also be an issue when operations need a near-instantaneous response.

Gordon McKenna, CTO of Public Cloud at Ensono, says cloud providers are taking those challenges into account. “In 2021, the cloud will continue to flourish, especially with Microsoft’s development of the modular data center. This innovation can bring the cloud to the side of a mountain, and now parts of the world that have had difficulty leveraging cloud computing because of latency issues can benefit from a more agile IT environment. Between this modular model and the adoption of 5G, cloud computing is becoming extremely more accessible,” he says.

Rico Burnett, Global Director of Client Innovation at Exigent, adds that businesses’ adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) will also drive cloud adoption. “Artificial Intelligence is going to play a significant part in broader adoption of cloud solutions. The monitoring and management of cloud resources and the vast amounts of data that will be generated will be supercharged through the deployment of AI.”

Edge Computing Hype Turns into Reality

Lelah Manz, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Web Performance at Akamai, expects more businesses and enterprises to move computing to the edge where data is produced and needed.
“It will no longer be a question of if developers will run custom code at the edge, but which code. It doesn’t even have to be new code. Existing functions and microservices that are part of current applications and that live on the cloud or on a local server today might simply be moved to the edge nodes of the network to gain performance, reduce round-trip traffic, or minimize the transfer of sensitive data across networks,” she says.

Manz also predicts, “Edge computing will see production use increase even faster than the cloud did because the adoption is much easier and can be done in baby steps and without the need to heavily re-architect code, applications, and processes, and the learning curve for developers is very small.”

Looking beyond the next 12 months, she predicts that in 2022 edge computing will be a commodity and the go-to choice for most development teams. “It won’t replace the cloud, but the edge will be just another location for code execution. Developers will put their code where it runs best.”

A Better Question Than “Cloud vs. Edge” is How to Leverage “Cloud + Edge”

Agility will be key as your users architect the best IT environment for their processes and for the outcomes they need. An application used in an Internet of Things (IoT), smart factory, or automated environment could be part of a system that leverages both cloud and edge computing. Developing applications that can be deployed anywhere will be increasingly important to ISVs.

Work with your customers to provide them with the functionality they need, whether cloud vs. edge, to meet their demands and maintain the customer relationships you’ve built.

Bernadette Wilson

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.

Bernadette Wilson

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.