As businesses intensify their marginal computing deployments, the big three clouds are looking for a surprising range of edge options for a wide range of needs.
You may be surprised to learn that the three major public clouds – AWS, Google Could Platform, and Microsoft Azure – are all starting to offer superior computing capabilities. It’s confusing because the phrase “edge computing” implies a small data center, which is often connected to IoT devices and deployed at the edge of the enterprise network and not in the cloud.
The three large clouds have only partial control over key properties such as location, network, and infrastructure. Can they really provide superior computing power?
The answer is yes, although public cloud providers are developing their marginal computing services through strategic partnerships and with some limitations at an early stage.
Cloud-based edge computing services are a clear indication that the boundaries between public, private, and marginal clouds are being blurred. The unified goal is to provide businesses and architects with a wide choice based on workload type and performance, reliability, regulation, and safety requirements.
Unfortunately, a host of new options always mean new nicknames and brands, so we’ll need to do it in a reasonable way as we sort through three major cloud services for edge computing. Before you start, however, let’s start with a summary of some key considerations of edge computing architecture.
Understand border calculation requirements and architectures
First and fore importantly, teams of engineers must understand the requirements for marginal computing. Connecting a globally distributed network of inexpensive sensors generates several terabytes of data daily with different computing requirements than serving dozens of factory floors with a series of video sensors that process petabytes of data in real-time. Architecture must address specific data processing, analytics, and work processes needed.
Then, equally important, consider regulatory, security, and safety requirements. Medical devices deployed in hospitals or controllers for self-driving vehicles can collect and process highly personal information, which is very important. Reliability and performance needs must set location, network, security, and infrastructure requirements.
Understanding these requirements helps architects determine the physical location of marginal computing infrastructure, what type of infrastructure is required, minimum connectivity requirements, and other design considerations.
But the only benefit that public cloud computing offers is the ability to expand basic cloud architecture and services, especially for customers who have invested heavily in one public cloud or another. Do architects and developers want to take advantage of successfully deployed AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud services? That’s what public clouds are betting on – and they’re also looking at 5G-powered mobile apps that require low latency data and machine learning processing at telecommunications endpoints.
With these questions, here’s an overview of what the three main public clouds have to offer.
Expand to Azure Edge Zones with Azure Stack
Azure is betting that architects and developers want to focus on the app and focus less on infrastructure. Azure has three options for a combined edge where architects can take advantage of 5G networks and deploy data processing, machine learning models, streaming apps, and other real-time data-utilizing applications optimally.
Azure Edge Zones are managed deployments of Azure stacks that can be purchased through Microsoft and are now available in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami.
Microsoft partnered with AT&T to provide Azure End Zones with Carrier in several locations, including Atlanta, Dallas, and Los Angeles. This option is best for 5G-powered mobile applications that require low latency data processing or machine learning.
Finally, businesses can also deploy their own Azure Edge Zone. Microsoft has partnered with several data center providers to enable this ability.
These options offer network location choices and flexibility, while Azure Stack Edge offers Azure er00 services and services. Azure Stack Edge is an Intel Xeon 1U, 2×10 Core, 128GB device that can be configured with containers or virtual machines and managed as a cluster of Kubernetes devices. This model is optimized for machine learning and IoT applications.
Microsoft also offers Azure Stack HCI, a hyper-convergent infrastructure for modernizing data centers, and Azure Stack Hub to deploy cloud-based applications.
Like other cloud services, Microsoft sells Azure Stack Edge by subscription, at a cost calculated by extension. Microsoft manages devices and provides a 99.9% service level.
Expand AWS services from 5G devices to large-scale analytics
AWS has a similar range of services for distributing AWS services to data centers and telecommunications networks.
AWS is starting to support edge data centers with AWS Local Zones that are currently only available in Los Angeles.
AWS wavelengths are designed for low-latency applications running on 5G devices, including connected media, AR/VR applications, smart factories, and real-time gaming.
AWS is partnering with Verizon to deliver AWS Wavelengths, which are now available in Boston and the San Francisco Bay area.
AWS offers two flavors of advanced infrastructure, starting with the AWS Snow family of devices. AWS Snowcone is the smallest device with two vCPU and 4GB mainly used for storing and transmits marginal data. Machine learning and data processing applications that use a lot of memory deployed to the end may require AWS Snowball Edge to be available in storage models and optimized for computers with up to 52 vCPU and 208GB. For the largest applications, AWS Outposts are 42U racks deployed to data centers to run different types of EC2 instances, containers (Amazon ECS), Kubernetes (Amazon EKS), databases (Amazon RDS), data analytics (Amazon EMR), and other AWS services.
Google lags behind as all three clouds scramble for an advantage
Just as Google occupies third place in the public cloud war, Google is also trying to catch up with its benefits services. Google’s most recent announcements include Anthos at the Edge, which partnered with AT&T on 5G connectivity, and Google Mobile Edge Cloud. This product is part of Anthos, a combined and multi-cloud application modernization platform that allows businesses to deploy applications on GCP and in data centers.
Public cloud providers recognize that the next wave of innovation comes from the intersection of IoT, 5G, and machine learning analytics deployed at the edge. They won’t let infrastructure and data center companies like Dell or HPE dominate this new market without a fight, so their answer is to bring their cloud, container, coordination, and service platforms to competitive telecommunications end and data centers. And they don’t do this alone: Public clouds are partnering with major telecommunications, infrastructure, and service providers to deliver their services.
But these are early days for public cloud solutions. The fact that the three large clouds are becoming serious about marginal computing is only intended to underemphasize the promise of edge borders. Whether businesses choose edge solutions in the public cloud or choose to build their own infrastructure, networks, and computing platforms, there will be very few businesses that want to be left in the growing wave of innovation.