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Cloud Computing vs. Edge Computing: Definitions & Differences

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11/10/2022 |

7 min read

Piotr Wawryka,

Dominika Reszke

Undoubtedly, we live in a cloud computing era but edge computing is slowly making it to the spotlight, too. Edge devices, edge services, the edge network, and edge computing architecture – these are all connected with moving processes to the edge, and we hear about them more and more often.

But what is the reason for the rising popularity of these solutions? What makes edge computing important? How does edge computing work? What sets it apart from cloud computing? And does edge computing systems’ growing popularity mean that cloud computing has lost its momentum?

You will find answers to these questions in our article, read on.

 

Table of contents:

1. Cloud computing in a nutshell

2. Edge computing in brief

3. Edge vs. cloud computing

4. Edge & cloud computing – prospects for the future

Cloud computing in a nutshell

Cloud computing has been making the headlines for many years now. During this time, it has transformed the lives of virtually everyone – be it the average Internet user, a small or medium enterprise owner, or a giant international corporation manager.

In short, cloud computing means offering on-demand access to computing resources (like physical and virtual servers, development tools, applications, data storing, and networking capabilities) via the Internet. To make the long story even shorter, cloud computing can be called the delivery of different services online.

Cloud solutions are meant to store, archive, backup, recover, and process data coming from a huge number of devices on one centralized server. There are several types of cloud environments for data hosting. The most important cloud deployment models are:

  • Private cloud – cloud environment and computing resources operated solely for a single end user
  • Public cloud – cloud services delivered by a cloud service provider over the public Internet
  • Hybrid cloud – a combination of a public cloud and private computing resources

Cloud computing advantages and disadvantages

Cloud computing highlights cover:

  • unlimited storage capacity
  • backup and recovery enabled
  • excellent accessibility
  • cost efficiency, with no initial investment in infrastructure

On the downside:

  • there are some risks related to using a public cloud and sharing sensitive data with third-party service providers
  • cloud users have limited control of the infrastructure
  • a good Internet connection is required to access data
  • transferring data from one vendor to another may be difficult
     

Edge computing in brief

Processing data at the source is what makes edge computing stand out from other computation and data storage solutions and differentiates it from using the cloud. 

In brief, edge computing means processing data (with an edge device) in real time in close proximity to the data’s source.

There are hundreds of edge computing providers in the market, including Google Cloud, Dell Technologies, Intel, Huawei, Ericsson, Cisco, Deutsche Telekom, Lenovo, Nokia, Tata Communications, and Vodafone. Amazon’s AWS edge computing, Microsoft edge computing, as well as IBM Azure edge computing, are some of the major services in use in this area.

Edge computing enables businesses to reduce transmission costs which turns out to be a significant advantage in the turbulent times we are living in. Organizations may save money due to minimized volumes of data that need to be moved and thus the reduced bandwidth.

Edge computing pros and cons

There are many benefits of edge computing. Some of them include:

  • network latency reduction
  • network performance increase
  • service time improvement
  • thorough and timely data processing, with real-time data processing possible

What may be less advantageous, however, is that with edge computing:

  • more storage capacity is needed
  • the initial investment may be significant
  • advanced infrastructure, with local hardware, is necessary
  • the processing power is low
     

Edge vs. cloud computing

Both edge and cloud computing have their pros and cons, specific use cases, and certain risks involved. In some instances, edge computing may be regarded as more secure than cloud computing as the Internet connection isn’t always required in its case. And because edge computing may reduce reliance on the network, concerns over the quality or continuity of service – typical of cloud computing – get reduced. 

However, it’s not all that simple, and edge computing may even be called “a double-edged sword for privacy”, with the possibility of leaving personal data more exposed. In turn, cloud computing, especially private cloud, can provide a significant and sufficient level of control over security risks.

What other features set edge and cloud computing apart? The table below summarizes some differences between the two systems.

               

    CLOUD COMPUTING

EDGE COMPUTING

System        Single data center        Distributed
Coverage        Global        Local
Privacy        Well protected        Raising concerns
Storage           Extensive        Limited
Processing power        High        Low

Use cases

       

  • File and data storage
  • Serverless computing
  • Video streaming platforms
  • Processing data
  • Data backups
  • Data archiving
  • Disaster recovery
  • Virtual desktops
  • Big Data Analytics
  • Software testing and development
  • Social networking
  • Automating workloads
  • Healthcare and medical applications (patient monitoring)
  • Traffic management
  • Fraud detection in finance
  • Improving workplace safety
  • Self-driving cars
  • Industrial process monitoring
  • Virtual and augmented reality
  • Streaming video optimization
  • Push notifications enhancement – they can be personalized to particular users with minimal delay

Network bandwidth required

       

    Huge amount

       

    A small amount or none

       


 In brief, within the edge computing model, data is being processed and stored at a more local level and closer to the equipment. In turn, cloud computing takes the opposite approach to edge computing enabling data storage in a more centralized way.

Edge & cloud computing – prospects for the future

Edge computing shouldn't be treated as the next stage in computing’s history but rather as something complementary to what the cloud offers, one of the key developments or trends in this area. All in all, these two systems can be used in different use cases, with data centralized (cloud solutions) or decentralized (cloud computing)

The future seems to be bright for edge computing – due to its versatility and usefulness. It’s being used all over the place, in a great number of use cases and industries. Smart homes that rely heavily on IoT devices are just one of the major and everyday examples here. But the cloud surely is here to stay, too – we can’t imagine the world today without the accessibility of the cloud resources, storing files in it and restoring when needed as well as social networking platforms that rely heavily upon cloud services, too.

Edge computing enables faster transmissions of data and covers some of cloud computing’s shortcomings. Moving significant amounts of computation to the edge may be the best solution as the number of IoT devices is on the sharp rise.

Interested in cloud & edge computing? If you want to find out more about them, check out Codete’s insightful articles on these topics:

If you need a technology partner for cloud computing solutions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Rated: 5.0 / 1 opinions
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Piotr Wawryka

Piotr has over 5 years of commercial experience writing Python applications. He is a software developer and data scientist at Codete since 2017 and a Ph.D. student at AGH University of Science Technology. His main field of interest is Neural Networks and their practical applications. He gives speeches at meetups and international conferences.

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Dominika Reszke

IT Content Writer with 12 years of professional writing experience. Prefers facts and figures to any kind of fiction.

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