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Until recently, cloud storage and computing were often managed centrally by cloud hyperscalers in their respective regions/data centers or client-managed private clouds. The cloud infrastructure ecosystem is now moving toward hybrid clouds—a combination of public and private clouds dictated by associated needs and benefits—creating newfound demands of low-cost storage, location-specific services, high-end security, data monetization, and customer experience with regional context. Conjoined with these are novel complexities surrounding adoption, governance, security, customer centricity, and lower total cost of ownership (TCO) that have emerged, propelling enterprises to gear up for new ways of working with the cloud. The curve of natural progression has accelerated the need for a new approach to cloud computing, seeking a fix to interconnect data and applications served from different geological locations.
Embracing distributed cloud computing
Cloud technology thought leaders have been quick to respond with distributed cloud computing. It is a public cloud service that does computing and storage on various networks (on-premises, in other cloud providers’ data centers, or in third-party data centers or co-location centers) but manages everything from a single control plane. In simpler terms, the distributed cloud enables a geographically distributed, centrally managed distribution of public cloud services optimized for performance, compliance, and edge computing. Architects are innovating solutions to reduce data latency by bringing compute resources near to the point of transaction or interaction in compliance with local data residency regulations.
Real-world use case with distributed cloud computing
To take an example from health care services, the massive amount of data being produced by IoT edge devices such as wearable sensors, blood glucose monitors, and health care apps may be valuable, but it’s also creating a challenge for health care providers tasked with managing it and keeping it secure. Much of this data is unstructured and poorly defined, flooding into cloud infrastructures that are often not prepared to run the powerful analytics programs needed to organize it in ways that can be easily used. By the time data generated by IoT edge devices is fed back into a central server to be properly analyzed and sorted, it may be too late to respond to sudden changes in a person’s condition.
Distributed cloud computing applications have the potential to solve this data problem. By retaining much of the critical processing tasks on the devices located on the edge of the network, health care IT architectures can still gain the benefit of gathering health-related data while also getting the rapid, real-time analytics that can predict and respond to health emergencies. IoT medical devices can analyze a person’s current condition and send alerts the moment anomalies are detected, allowing for rapid response times that may well save their life. In the meantime, IoT health care networks can continue to feed non-critical data gathered over time to be sorted and processed by powerful machine-learning algorithms hosted in cloud-computing data centers that maintain the highest standards in regulatory compliance.
Is distributed cloud computing the way forward for all enterprises?
Some of the most common challenges that can prompt enterprises to consider distributed cloud computing are:
Adapting to distributed cloud computing might be the most appropriate strategy for those organizations facing one or more of these challenges. Some of the core capabilities of distributed cloud computing include:
The bottom line
Distributed cloud computing is the future for enterprises focusing on data in motion—edge devices, such as sensors; IoT-oriented applications for connected customers; and connected vehicles. With technological advances in cloud storage, and compute and expansion of cloud availability across regions and geographies, enterprises should strategically invest in taking advantage of modern distributed cloud architecture.
As the chief cloud strategy officer for Deloitte Consulting LLP, David is responsible for building innovative technologies that help clients operate more efficiently while delivering strategies that enable them to disrupt their markets. David is widely respected as a visionary in cloud computing—he was recently named the number one cloud influencer in a report by Apollo Research. For more than 20 years, he has inspired corporations and start-ups to innovate and use resources more productively. As the author of more than 13 books and 5,000 articles, David’s thought leadership has appeared in InfoWorld, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, NPR, Gigaom, and Lynda.com. Prior to joining Deloitte, David served as senior vice president at Cloud Technology Partners, where he grew the practice into a major force in the cloud computing market. Previously, he led Blue Mountain Labs, helping organizations find value in cloud and other emerging technologies. He is a graduate of George Mason University.