Edge Computing vs. Cloud Computing: Exploring Their Relationship

When cloud computing first emerged, there seemed to be no end of definitions for the term. Did it mean on-demand computing? Software-as-a-Service? Internet services generally? Years later, many people still lack a firm understanding of what cloud computing is.

Edge computing has created similar confusion. Where exactly is “the edge,” and what does it mean to have computing there?

The cloud and the edge are similar concepts yet very different. The cloud can exist without the edge and vice versa. However, the cloud and the edge often interact, blurring the line between the two.

What Are the Differences Between Edge and Cloud Computing?

Some basic definitions can help to explain the differences between the edge and the cloud and between edge computing and cloud computing.

What Are the Edge and Edge Computing?

The edge is a physical place where IT equipment is deployed outside the centralized data center. It’s called the “edge” because it exists at the network's edge, closer to the point where data is collected. Edge computing refers to applications and services that run on edge equipment and process data collected at the edge.

What Are the Cloud and Cloud Computing?

The cloud is also a place or a network of places. The cloud simply describes servers that are accessible over the internet as opposed to local, on-premise servers or hard drives. Data centers have an essential role in cloud computing. Cloud servers are located in data centers across the world. Some are public, and others are private. Major cloud service providers operate some of the largest data centers in the world. Five characteristics make it a “cloud” environment — pooling of resources, elastic capacity, on-demand self-service, broad network access, and measured service. Cloud computing refers to workloads that run in a cloud environment. Cloud computing aims to provide easy, scalable, on-demand access to resources, information, and services.

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What Is Edge-to-Cloud Computing?

Edge-to-cloud computing refers to a distributed IT environment incorporating edge, cloud, and traditional data center resources. It often incorporates the Internet of things (IoT), which involves collecting data from various devices and the flow of data between edge data centers, the cloud, and corporate data centers. It may also involve advanced applications such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.

When to Use Edge or Cloud Computing

Choosing between the edge and the cloud depends upon the particular use case. Each model offers different benefits.

Edge computing is ideal for applications with the following requirements:

  • Low latency. Edge computing provides lower latency than the cloud because data doesn’t have to travel far for processing.
  • Large data volumes. Processing data at the source minimizes network bandwidth and cloud storage requirements, reducing costs.
  • Security and regulatory compliance. Edge computing maintains data within the local-area network, behind the organization’s firewall, reducing security risks and addressing regulatory requirements.

Cloud computing is better suited for applications with the following requirements:

  • Unpredictable demand. Cloud computing allows organizations to rapidly provision compute and storage resources to meet changing requirements.
  • Greater reliability. Applications and data can be replicated across multiple clouds for high availability and business continuity.
  • Simplified management. Cloud providers are responsible for managing and updating their environments, reducing the burden on in-house IT staff.

Edge and cloud environments often have a symbiotic relationship, with the cloud providing additional compute resources for edge applications. For example, an edge data center can handle the initial data processing for real-time applications, then transmit relevant data to the cloud for deeper analysis and long-term storage.

Edge-to-Cloud Infrastructure from Enconnex

Whether deploying an edge data center or building a private cloud environment, Enconnex has the infrastructure you need. We offer high-quality racks and cabinets for a wide range of use cases, all manufactured to meet our exacting standards for quality, durability, and strength.

Our EdgeRack cabinets are micro data centers for edge computing. The EdgeRack 3P features an integrated cooling system that delivers up to 3.5kW of cooling capacity, while the EdgeRack Industrial 8M includes a side-mounted cooling unit that provides up to 8kW of cooling capacity. The EdgeRack Industrial 8M is also dust- and moisture-proof (NEMA 12 and IP55-rated), making it ideal for harsh environments.

Contact the data center infrastructure experts at Enconnex for help determining the right solutions for your use case. Browse our catalog of IT and data center products today.

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Posted by Robert Faulkner on July 13, 2023

Robert Faulkner is the Vice President of Engineering and Operations at Enconnex. He comes from a strong background in product management with over 20 years in the IT industry. He currently holds an MSME and CDCD certification. He earned his MS degree in Mechanical Engineering at University of Nevada, Reno.

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