Cloud vs. Edge Computing: What is the Difference?

Cloud vs. Edge Computing: What is the Difference?

Cloud computing has been making headlines for years. Companies have been experiencing the benefits of third-party provider arrangements for some time, allowing them to access additional resources at a significantly lower cost than if they purchased them internally. Edge computing is a newer kid on the block, touted as a breakthrough that can outpace traditional cloud approaches.


However, there is a substantial amount of confusion when it comes to cloud versus edge computing. Many assume that you have to embrace one technology or the other. In reality, that is not the case. These solutions can be complementary, enabling you to experience the benefits of both in accordance with your needs.


If you ever wondered what the difference is between cloud and edge computing, here is an overview of the technologies.


What is Cloud Computing?


Cloud computing involves using remote data centers to access computing power over the internet. Essentially, you use a web browser or connected application to reach the data center, and the bulk of the processing takes place in a server far from your physical location and the device you use to connect.


What is Edge Computing?


Edge computing is a relatively new concept that aims to run applications as close to the device where the data is generated as possible. It grew to prominence thanks to the expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT).


As companies rely on more IoT devices to manage operations, being able to process data from the devices as close to the core system as possible became advantageous. Edge computing allows for the quick delivery of insights, supporting systems where more immediate action could be required or timeliness is particularly critical.


Edge computing does require data to be stored locally. While the information may travel across local networks, the data is not processed in remote data centers. Instead, it is kept in-house.


Implementing Cloud and Edge Computing Solutions


Cloud and edge computing solutions do not have to be implemented by excluding the other. For example, if you have applications that require a quick but not necessarily a near-instantaneous response from the data source, then that information can remain in the cloud. Similarly, if the applications need access to large datasets, a high number of users may need to connect simultaneously, or connectivity to a variety of devices is required, cloud options are usually preferred.


However, if you use IoT devices and particularly speedy insights are critical for operations, then edge computing may work better for those systems. You can run these as a separate segment from your cloud-based solutions and even intertwine them in various ways to create a larger overview for “big picture” reporting.


Ultimately, edge computing is not a replacement for the cloud. Instead, it is a technology with different goals and is better suited for specific situations, some of which may not exist in every organization. But, if you have a need for both, they can work as complementary solutions, allowing you to get the right benefits for each system or application in operation.

Derek Roush

Derek Roush is the President and Founder of VocalPoint Consulting. He has over 15 years of experience in the industry supporting telecom and cloud service resellers. Since 2010, he has led VocalPoint Consulting to become one of the leading telecom and cloud service consulting firms in the industry.

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