Over the past decade, it seems like everything we do has moved from our local computers to the cloud. While less consumers are buying desktop PCs for their home, a rise in smaller, single-use edge computing devices is on the horizon.
The cloud has taken over our digital lives. We use it to store our data (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.), rely on it for our media content (Netflix, Spotify, etc.), and it’s even starting to stream video games (Stadia, xCloud, etc.).
With all of this going to the cloud, it’s no surprise that PC sales have been in decline since 2010.
One of the biggest drawbacks to Cloud computing isn’t brought about by the speed at which cloud servers can process or distribute data, but in how fast client systems can readily receive them. The speed of light is a latency barrier we can’t overcome.
Enter a localized edge computing solution. Clients can connect with a local server with some processing and data handling capabilities and receive a more immediate response before the processed data is passed to the cloud.
This would be one very possible solution to the latency issues high-demand services frequently encounter. One recent example being Google Stadia which launched to mixed reviews due to laggy experiences.
Additionally, autonomous vehicles and other automated technologies will want to have some form of communication with one-another to coordinate quick responses between them without having to wait for one or more cloud services to connect with each other and relay the information back.
Imagine how much more efficiently autonomous vehicles can coordinate with one-another on the road when a sudden obstacle appears in the roadway if they can connect directly with each other, or to a local base station rather than a data center halfway across the country.
We regularly hand over extremely sensitive information to our technology. Our phones store our fingerprint data, face-recognition patterns, PIN, and passwords.
If there is one thing we know about the cloud, it’s that nothing is absolutely secure. Almost every day, a new security breech leaks out countless passwords, email addresses, names, and other private information. This information falls in the hands of hackers and data miners. These individuals profit on sensitive data belonging to unsuspecting victims.
By moving this information to edge devices, we take more control over its security for ourselves. Apple did this by storing fingerprint data directly to the device.
Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons for a heightened demand for edge computing is a lack of trust for the corporations running the cloud.
Amazon makes money by marketing products directly to consumers. Google targets advertising based on what it knows about its users. Microsoft, like Google, is also in the information business.
Consumers are right to be cautious. Their data is being collected and used with minimal transparency. There are thousands of unaffiliated contractors listening to Google Home and Amazon Echo recordings. This has a lot of privacy advocates rightly concerned.
How often do these devices mistakenly activate and listen in on private conversations? How often are these conversations heard by contractors?
I love the cloud for many reasons. It makes doing things like storing files and creating a server much easier than it would be if I were handling it all in-house.
Unfortunately, the cloud will reach a saturation point where everything that can live there already lives there, and we’ll be looking for new ways to improve the performance, reliability, and security of our cloud-based applications.
Edge computing isn’t a new concept. In many ways, it’s a step back to where we were before, but applied in the right way, it can give us some outstanding benefits over solutions that deliver the best of both worlds.