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What Is the Difference Between Cloud Computing and Edge Computing?

Author Leslie

Date 02/26/2024

This article tells you what cloud computing and edge computing are, their advantages and their differences, to help you better understand and choose.

Cloud computing and edge computing represent distinct methodologies, both offering numerous advantages to contemporary enterprises. Public cloud computing platforms provide computing resources and services over the internet, allowing some enterprises to access and use these resources as needed without owning or managing physical equipment. Cloud computing platforms have characteristics such as elasticity, flexibility, and pay-as-you-go pricing, enabling enterprises to utilize computing resources more efficiently, reduce costs, and accelerate innovation.

Edge computing involves relocating data processing and storage tasks to the point where data is generated, rather than depending on distant data centers or cloud services. Edge computing can reduce data transmission latency, save bandwidth, and enhance data privacy and security. This distributed computing model suits scenarios requiring real-time response and data privacy protection, such as smart cities and industrial IoT.

In the following sections, we will provide a more detailed comparison of cloud and edge computing to help readers better understand their respective advantages and applicable scenarios.

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing operates on an Internet-based computing model, delivering computing resources and services to users via the network, including servers, storage, databases, networks, and software. It offers these resources elastically and on demand, allowing users to flexibly adjust and pay according to actual usage without investing much capital in equipment upfront. This enables users to expand or reduce computing resources as needed, alleviating financial pressure.

Benefits of Cloud Computing

Compared to local IT, cloud computing undoubtedly offers many advantages. Depending on the selected services, it can achieve several different objectives:

Cost reduction: Cloud computing eliminates upfront costs for hardware, software, IT management, power, and cooling. It operates on a pay-as-you-go model, where enterprises only pay for the computing resources they use, significantly reducing operational costs.

Simplified management: Traditional IT requires a large number of IT professionals to maintain and manage equipment, whereas cloud computing does not require maintenance or management of equipment. Cloud computing service providers offer professional assistance, allowing enterprises to focus on their core business needs.

Increased reliability: Cloud computing can mirror data across multiple redundant sites, making data backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity easier to achieve, while also reducing costs.

Time savings: Traditional IT deployments often require significant time to configure dedicated networks and servers. However, with cloud computing, deployment can be completed in a short time, accelerating the implementation of business processes.

Cloud computing improves transmission speed by utilizing high-speed devices such as 400G modules, 400G switches, etc., thereby significantly reducing latency and ensuring real-time transmission.

What is Edge Computing?

Edge computing operates as a distributed computing model that functions autonomously from remote data centers or cloud services, instead of moving data processing and storage functions to the source where data is generated. By doing so, it reduces data transmission latency, enhances real-time capabilities, and alleviates demands on network bandwidth. Data processing and analysis in edge computing typically occur on devices or nodes at the edge of the network, such as routers, IoT devices, etc. These devices can handle simple data processing tasks, but for more complex computing or storage tasks, edge nodes need to collaborate with central data centers or the cloud to transmit the final results back to the center.

Benefits of Edge Computing

Compared to cloud computing, edge computing is more suitable for certain workloads that require data to be retained locally or in specific locations. It offers the following advantages:

Low latency: Unlike cloud computing, edge computing eliminates or reduces data transmission, thus effectively controlling latency. For applications with high latency requirements, edge computing can process data locally without accessing the internet, thereby reducing latency.

Model accuracy: Some applications rely heavily on high-precision models, such as artificial intelligence and autonomous driving. When network bandwidth is insufficient, reducing the size of input models can alleviate the problem but may result in smaller image sizes, video frame skipping, and reduced audio sampling rates. However, if deployed at the edge, data feedback loops can improve the accuracy of artificial intelligence models, and multiple models can be run simultaneously.

Data security: Since data is collected and processed locally, edge computing allows enterprises to retain all sensitive data and computations within their local area network and enterprise firewalls, reducing the risk of network security attacks in the cloud.

The Difference Between Cloud Computing and Edge Computing

The difference between cloud computing and edge computing lies in their data processing and storage locations, data transmission latency, and other aspects:

Data processing and storage locations:

In cloud computing, data processing and storage generally take place on servers offered by cloud computing service providers or remote data centers. Users can access and make use of these computing resources and services via the Internet.

Edge computing, on the other hand, involves data processing and storage functions taking place at the source where data is generated. This usually happens on network edge devices or nodes, such as routers, IoT devices, and so on.

Data transmission latency:

Because data processing and storage in cloud computing occur at remote locations, data needs to be transmitted over the internet before processing and storage, which may result in higher latency.

In contrast, with edge computing, data processing and storage occur at the point of data generation, eliminating the need for data transmission over the internet and thus achieving lower latency, enhancing real-time performance.

Data privacy and security:

In cloud computing, user data is typically stored in remote cloud data centers, which may pose risks to data privacy and security during transmission or storage.

However, in edge computing, data processing and storage take place within the local area network or behind enterprise firewalls, eliminating the need for remote transmission. This provides better protection for data privacy and security, reducing risks during data transmission.

Application:

Although cloud computing and edge computing have different functionalities, they are currently the two mainstream computing methods adopted by most enterprises. Here are the differences between cloud computing and edge computing in their applications:

Cloud Computing

Edge Computing

Non-time-sensitive data processing

Real-time data processing

Reliable internet connection

Remote locations with limited or no internet connectivity

Dynamic workloads

Large datasets that are too costly to send to the cloud

Data in cloud storage

Highly sensitive data and strict data laws

Conclusion

Cloud computing and edge computing have different advantages. For enterprises, the integration of cloud computing and edge computing is inevitable. By harnessing the advantages of both cloud computing and edge computing, enterprises can benefit from the security and manageability of local systems while also utilizing the public cloud resources provided by cloud computing service providers. If you have any further questions about cloud computing and edge computing, please feel free to contact QSFPTEK's CCIE/HCIE engineers at support@qsfptek.com.

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