Tech Trend Cloud vs Edge Computing
Your company has likely transitioned at least some of its technology services and infrastructure to the cloud over the last few years. The benefits of cloud computing are undeniable. Everything from smartphones to video games now depend on the cloud, so there was a frantic rush across sectors to move there. But is the cloud computing boom finally over? If so, what’s next? Read on to learn more about a new trend that may turn the cloud upside down.
The ubiquity of cloud
Today, cloud computing is universal. It has saturated IT services and data management. You probably are relying on cloud technology to read these words at this very moment.
Modern browsers like Chrome and Edge are essentially robust web applications with an array of plug-ins and widgets. Have you ever wondered how your desktop browser syncs so quickly with your smartphone browser? This service would not be possible without cloud technology.
Cloud computing enables the spread of fast-developing, disruptive trends. In manufacturing, you often see cloud services packaged as hosted solutions, infrastructure-as-a-service, or both. If your company jumped on the cloud bandwagon early, some of your IT, including manpower, has likely been offloaded to a service provider.
The operational benefits alone were worth the risk of implementing cloud. Cloud computing has allowed your company to integrate business-critical systems, such as manufacturing execution systems and product lifecycle management software.
Before the expansion of cloud technology in manufacturing, your MES and PLM systems would have been more time-consuming. Today, even enterprise resource planning software can live in the cloud, which was unheard of five years ago.
The end of the cloud is a new beginning
Venture capitalist Peter Levine, a general partner at the firm Andreessen Horowitz, recently declared an end to cloud. It will not go away completely, Levine claimed; it will have a new, albeit diminished, role. “As machine learning proliferates, the current model of cloud computing will become too slow,” he said during a recent interview.
Experts like Levine anticipate a major disruption in the cloud market. The Internet of Things and big data are two prime examples. Both of these technologies barely emerged alongside cloud computing. Now, IoT, big data, and the cloud are now inseparable and invaluable. So where do you go from here?
The broad proliferation of smart manufacturing platforms and IoT technology presents your company with an interesting dilemma. Do you manage quality wholly in the cloud or do you stay the course and wait? The answer depends on how your company plans to stay ahead of the competition.
How AI and automation will be the new cloud
Today, software engineers are in the early stages of developing machine learning algorithms. Automation is at a similar stage, so what happens when you combine them? If you ask Levine, his answer is edge computing.
Edge computing refers to the problem of latency in emerging smart devices. Think of autonomous vehicles as an example. Under the current cloud computing model, a self-driving car has to wait for a server response before avoiding an obstruction. A delay of a few milliseconds could be the difference between life and death if a pedestrian walks in front of a self-driving car.
To solve this problem, machine learning algorithms and automation handle computation locally (i.e., at the edge of a wide-area network) without sending data to a centralized cloud. The same concept applies to automation in manufacturing. Smart endpoints, which became mini-data centers, are the new trend.
Cloud computing has not become obsolete; it’s playing a different role. As edge computing matures, you will begin to see more of this technology come to light.