In our continuing study of today’s technological megatrends, we have covered game-changing technologies like drones, blockchain, artificial intelligence (“AI”), and 3D printing technology. While it is impossible to predict how the future will precisely play out, I am confident that these technologies will play a major role in our personal and professional lives. There is yet another technology, however, that brings some efficiencies to a technology that is already known for efficiency. Specifically, we are talking about the distributed cloud.
The distributed cloud brings decreased latency and opportunities for increased security to organizations both large and small. Understanding what this technology is and how it will change cloud computing generally can offer dividends to companies that pay close attention.
What is the Distributed Cloud?
If you aren’t familiar with the distributed cloud, it is helpful to further define it here. According to Gartner, the distributed cloud is the distribution of public cloud services to different physical locations, while the operation, governance, updates, and evolution of the services are the responsibility of the originating public cloud provider. The key difference between the distributed cloud and the centralized cloud is that computation, storage, and networking are situated closer to the end-user. Some examples of the distributed cloud include fog computing and edge computing. Another Gartner note states that about 10 percent of enterprise-generated data is created outside a traditional centralized data center or cloud. But by 2025, this number is projected to be approximately 75 percent.
But what does this mean in practice?
For the past 10 years, the emphasis has been on building or leveraging centralized data center and cloud architectures. This worked well in the past and unlocked significant wealth and innovation in our modern digital economy. That said, some of the disruptive technologies mentioned above (like AI, machine learning (“ML”), and the Internet of Things (“IoT”)) have a new set of requirements that cannot be met by a centralized cloud architecture. Specifically, these applications require compute resources to be deployed at the network edge. Deployed at the edge, the distributed cloud can provide low latency, reduced bandwidth costs, increased autonomy, and increased privacy. The low latency benefits are especially compelling for applications like public safety, gaming, virtual reality, and more. But beyond that, the distributed cloud decreases congestion because the data only has to travel a short distance to the compute, storage, or network resources.
In sum, the distributed cloud is the secret sauce behind the proliferation of these new, exciting technologies.
How Distributed Cloud Changes the Cloud as We Know It
Ultimately, the distributed cloud improves the user experience of a network. It fills in a role that traditional cloud architectures struggle to fill. Specifically, this technology can process data in real-time. As for security, the distributed cloud also lets users leverage new technologies to protect their data. For instance, a potential security solution includes a blockchain-based security architecture. Taking advantage of the sheer power of blockchain technology, you and your company can have some much-needed peace of mind about how your data is secured. It shares some elements with traditional cloud models, yet it offers these additional features which can be extremely compelling for both large and small companies.
One particularly insightful use case of distributed cloud technology involves the megatrend known as IoT technology. IoT technology has become increasingly prevalent, with formerly “dumb” devices being converted into “smart” devices. Converting dumb devices into smart devices, however, does not come without costs. One of those is the fact that increasing amounts of data are being sent toward the central cloud. But with the distributed cloud, however, companies can leverage data thinning at the edge. This data thinning can reduce bandwidth costs and save some organizations significant amounts of cash.
Beyond this one example, the distributed cloud plays a huge role in handling these increased workload requirements. It provides more computational power and geographical scalability. It really provides the best of both worlds. The distributed cloud can provide more power, more security, and lower latency—all at a lower cost. Whether your company is trying to capitalize on one of these new, disruptive technologies or is simply looking for more security or lower latency in your cloud architecture, it is certainly worth your time to consider the distributed cloud.