Jan 23, 2018 3:00 AM

No, edge computing will not replace cloud computing

Edge computing is simply about pushing some of the cloud’s processing and storage out near to the devices that produce and consume the data


The press is still having a field day with this relatively new tech term edge computing, and how it will soon displace cloud computing. I’ve seen more a half dozen articles in just the last two months that advancing the perception that edge computing will displace, not complement, cloud computing.

It’s sad to see such naive discussions continue around edge computing, which I’ve previously tried to debunk in my posts “Make sense of edge computing vs. cloud computing” and “Edge computing: What you need to know before you deploy.” But let me try again!

Any extreme positions on technology never come true. Even the predictions that cloud computing would replace all on-premises computing was far-fetched. Although a good deal of on-premises systems can be moved to the public cloud, a good portion of those systems cannot due to the fact that they have no platform analogs on the public cloud or, more likely, are just too expensive to relocate to the public cloud.

The reality is always somewhere between where the technology is now and the grandiose predictions. You need to understand how to take all the technology hype with a grain of salt.

Even cloud computing is still a murky term that describes way too many things. So it is understandable that the press, pundits, and analysts have run amuck with its redefinition based on new technology or approaches showing up, such as edge computing.

So, here is the skinny: Cloud computing is about centralization of processing and storage to provide a more efficient and scalable platform for computing. Edge computing is simply about pushing some of that processing and storage out near to the devices that produce and consume the data—that is, to the edge. Edge computing will be one of the approaches we use to deploy in the cloud to support specific use cases, with the internet of things being the most applicable.

But edge computing replacing cloud computing? That’s like a toe replacing a body. Cloud computing is a big, broad concept that spans all types of computing approaches and technology; you can consider it a macro technology pattern. Edge computing is simply a micro pattern, where you can do new tactical things with public and private clouds.

Edge computing is an approach within the large corpus of cloud computing. Enough said?