Amazon, Google, and Microsoft take their clouds to the edge

It might surprise you to learn that the big three public clouds – AWS, Google Could Platform, and Microsoft Azure – are all starting to provide edge computing capabilities. It’s puzzling, because the phrase “edge computing” implies a mini datacenter, typically connected to IoT devices and deployed at an enterprise network’s edge rather than in the cloud.

The big three clouds have only partial control over such key edge attributes as location, network, and infrastructure. Can they truly provide edge computing capabilities?

The answer is yes, although the public cloud providers are developing their edge computing services via strategic partnerships and with some early-stage limitations.

Cloud-based edge computing offerings are a clear sign that the boundaries between public cloud, private cloud, and edge computing are blurring. The unifying goal is to provide businesses and architects with a range of choices based on the type of workload and its performance, reliability, regulatory, and safety requirements.

Unfortunately, a glut of new options always means new jargon and branding, so we’ll need to do a fair bit of demystifying as we sort through the big three cloud offerings for edge computing. Before jumping in, though, let’s start with a quick primer on some key edge computing architecture considerations.

Understanding edge computing requirements and architectures

First and foremost, engineering teams must understand the edge computing requirements. Connecting a globally dispersed network of inexpensive sensors that generate a few terabytes of data daily has different computing requirements than servicing a dozen factory floors with an array of video sensors processing petabytes of data in real-time. The architecture must address the specific data processing, analytics, and workflows needed.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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