The impact of Edge Computing to the Cloud.

This last week we had a short lecture about Cloud computing. I believe Cloud computing has been a revolutionised technology that has had one of the most significant impacts on Information Systems. It brought us a centralised virtual data centre that can be implemented, incremented, expanded, deleted, in a rapid and most of the time, using easy steps.

Any new startup or new business can be operational in hours instead of months, with the help of cloud computing. It provides services that are adaptable, agile and fit for purpose.

With the implementation of 5G and the new use case scenarios identified by ITU, it’s time to re-think cloud computing.
One of these new services, under the category of Ultra-Reliable and Low-Latency Communications (UR-LLC), are self-driverless cars, remote surgeries, mission-critical applications, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, Industry Automation, etc. In addition, it will include massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC), for smart home and smart cities, and enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), for 3D video, UHD screens, and 4K video transmission.

Specifically, mMTC applications will require ultra-low latency, and the computing power will need to be closer to the edge to reduce latency, increase bandwidth, and deliver faster response time. Therefore, Edge computing will require to have a distributed architecture, instead of a centralised architecture that profits the cloud service providers.

To realise a distributed architecture will require to have additional data centres closer to the devices, either implemented by Communication or Cloud Service Providers or even by new players like Tower or Infrastructure companies.

Organisations implementing edge computing will also benefit by offering new services. For example, Edge computing that will be used for services like Self-driverless cars, remote monitoring, can be provided at the edge as Platform-as-a-Service or Infrastructure-as-a-Service. It will provide additional revenue streams and reduce its transport communication cost.

Another use case for these organisations is the launch of small edge compute sites or data centres in enterprises or campuses and provide private 5G networks.

Having a distributed architecture shall have a high impact on cloud computing service providers. They will have to create smaller edge computing data centres, or instead, this service will be served by other players. This tendency is already being followed by independent tower companies, that use to offer only passive infrastructure. To increase their revenue streams. They are starting to offer DAS – distributed Antenna Systems, Fibre Optic capacity, and even small cells as-a-Service.

At this stage, it is still too early to know precisely what the impact on the big cloud service providers will be and how they will react. Still, in a very near future, we will see again another technology disruption and more players benefiting from this new trend.

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