The Challenge of Centralization and the Necessity of Edge Computing
October 18, 2023

Over the past year, the cloud has found a place in businesses across the nation and around the world. Driven by lockdowns and work from home orders, companies closed offices and scrambled to give employees access to the tools they used every day. People couldn’t simply stop working because the office wasn’t open—they needed to have remote access to business-critical applications.


Cloud computing delivered on its promises. With little more than a browser, people could use software to complete tasks at home. Even with a few small hiccups during the early stages, those who moved to the cloud in response to the pandemic got what they needed.

While cloud computing kept organizations around the world chugging along in 2020 and 2021, it’s important to ask how sustainable this delivery model is.


The Challenge of Centralization


Last month, when looking at the different delivery models for computing power, we explained that the cloud offers a familiar, centralized way of collecting and processing data. Think of it like streaming a movie—Netflix hosts the data on their servers, transferring it directly to your phone, smart TV, or computer. The data never exists on your device; your device is simply presenting information stored somewhere else.


Centralized processing power is great for some things. If you’re using a cloud application, you’re accessing servers that are vastly more powerful than your business could afford traditionally. But you’re also hundreds of miles away from the processing power, sending and receiving information through a network of cables.


The Traffic Jam Conundrum


It’s something we may have forgotten in the past year, but back when we were commuting to work, you probably had to deal with a little thing called traffic. People needed to drive to a centralized economic hub, do the work, and drive home, relying on a vast infrastructure of roads to get where they’re going.


The concept of the cloud isn’t much different—data is sent from your device to a centralized location, processed, and sent back. In a traditional commute, infrastructure does enough to move people back and forth with reasonable efficiency. But what happens during rush hour? Instead of simply driving from point A to point B, you have to deal with thousands of other drivers trying to do the exact same thing.


The same goes for data processing in the cloud. You’re not the only one whose data is on the ‘highway’, it’s traveling alongside millions of other packets trying to get to the same place. The same traffic jams occur on the way to and from the centralized location.


It’s Not a Concern Just Yet—But It Will Be


In its current form, the idea of centralization is tolerable. Businesses can still access the processing power they need from thousands of miles away. Latency is still not posing an immediate threat, people aren’t struggling to get something done because of traffic jams consisting of ones and zeroes.


But what about five years from now? Between 2016 and 2018, we generated 90 percent of the data ever created. This trend is accelerating—rapidly. Currently, humans are generating 2.5 exabytes of data each day. But according to the World Economic Forum, this number will explode by 2025, reaching 463 exabytes—185 times more than we currently do.


Imagine taking your current commute, with its current infrastructure, and multiplying the number of cars by 185. That would be one heck of a traffic jam. Instead of having a healthy system of things flowing from point A to point B for processing, your request will be flowing alongside billions of other requests being made each second by IoT devices.


From the Cloud to the Edge: Bring Processing Closer


The cloud works—at the moment. The cloud will continue to work for processes that can wait a few seconds. But when you need constant streams of information to make decisions in fractions of a second, the limitations will come into play at some point.


This is why the edge has taken off in popularity in recent years—it looks to be the cure to the data explosion coming from IoT adoption. The goal of edge computing is to put processing power as close to the user as possible, delivering the scalability and minimal latency businesses will need to operate.


If you need real-time data to complete mission-critical tasks that keep your company profitable and safe, then it’s time to tie all these systems together using Edge Computing technology.


If your company has plans to compete in markets where getting an edge on the Edge means more market share, then select a service provider that can navigate all the different products and services without costs jumping over the barrier and sending the project right over the edge.


At Virtually Managed IT Solutions, we specialize in getting companies to the Edge. Delivering support, expertise, and insights for digital transformation, our team works with you to get your company up and running. Get to know more about us, our services, and our partners—and be sure to contact us to learn more.

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