Cloud Computing is not a new concept in the computing world. For example, in the 1960s, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) MAC project, a collaborative project on Mathematics and Computing, already ran computer network experiments.
In 1969, a Computer Networks Group was created to allow people on different computers and in other locations to access and share programs and information on a single computer.
It was the beginning of what was then known as Cloud Computing. One of the vast, archaic IBM computers using reels of magnetic tape for memory was acting like a primordial cloud with two or three people accessing it. In 1997 Professor Ramnath Chellappa of Emory University described Cloud Computing as the new “computing paradigm in which economic rather than purely technical limits will determine the limits of computation.” And the history of Cloud Computing continued to evolve.
We’re talking about decentralizing the cloud but maintaining centralized control. The public cloud provider assumes responsibility for the services’ operation, management, updating, and development. A distributed cloud means that computing, storage, and networking are all in a micro cloud located outside the central cloud.
A distributed cloud is a Cloud Computing model or service that allows you to run public cloud infrastructures and services in multiple locations; it could be private data centers, another public cloud, third–party data centers, edge locations, space anywhere.
Services are usually bundled together, often including hardware. Someone can buy it and run it wherever they want. Still, in most parts, ownership, operation, management, updates, and evolution of services remain the responsibility of the source public cloud provider. This is because you can have so many locations, and they can all be linked together under a single management console or view. The cloud will be distributed and will be the management center. Think of it as a cloud services infrastructure that packages the entire cloud stack, each with its processing capabilities, to perform various customer services. The distributed cloud extends the provider’s centralized cloud with geographically distributed micro cloud satellites.
The distributed cloud has four sources:
- The first is the traditional subregions and regions of the public cloud provider.
- The second is multi–cloud, where the same service can run in different locations of different public cloud providers.
- The third is hybrid cloud, where the same service runs on public cloud–hosted platforms and on–premises facilities.
- Fourth is Edge Computing.
Edge Computing means that application workloads are physically located and run as close to where data is created as possible.
For example, users interact with devices such as cell phones or barcode scanners or IoT devices such as security cameras or machine sensors to gather and generate data.
You can implement Edge Computing without a distributed cloud architecture. But the distributed cloud makes edge application deployment and management easier, robust, and scalable.
Imagine running multiple production factories with edge servers hosted by different cloud service providers and processing data generated from thousands of sensors. With a distributed cloud, you can control and manage everything from a single shadow from a single control plane, a dashboard, and clusters, making security updates, monitoring performance. Managing and monitoring these different locations will be challenging with other tools and services without the distributed cloud.
What are the Benefits of the Distributed Cloud?
- Control: Infrastructure can be managed consistently across public and private clouds.
- Deployment: There is an increase in the number of available locations where cloud services can be hosted and consumed. The trend is growing with the need to reduce latency between devices due to advances in IoT and 5G.
- Low Latency: Near real–time access to rapidly changing data when operations are closer to those that need resources.
- Reduced Network Risks: Network failures are reduced as all cloud services can also be on local subnets operating intermittently.
How and Where is the Distributed Cloud Used?
It is still difficult to predict all possible outcomes of this cloud system. But, for now, it is possible to say that it will cover everything from managing multi-cloud to increasing the scalability of the development space.
- IoT and AI: New AI and IoT trends leverage cloud computing for low latency from autonomous vehicles to industrial automation.
- Regulations: New regulations like GDPR work around the idea that users’ IPs cannot go outside their country. It helps to process the IP directly in the user’s country.
- Data Centers: It is now possible to expand the infrastructure in these locations without making physical data centers.
- Content Delivery: The gaming and streaming marketplace will use the distributed cloud to enable content delivery to happen closer to end–users.