Adapting to the Weather: The cloud, the edge, and everything in between
The cloud has undoubtedly been revolutionary in our everyday lives. From watching a film on our favourite streaming service, to backing up our holiday photos, to being able to perform complex processing using AI, these have all been made easier, more streamlined, and more accessible via the cloud.
The statistics on the cloud speak for themselves, with G2 reporting that cloud spending represented about $230bn of enterprises' IT spends in 2022, that 85 per cent of organisations will be cloud-first by 2025, and that over 60 per cent of corporate data is already in cloud storage.
Whilst the private sector has rapidly and fully embraced the cloud and its benefits, there has been a lag in public sector adoption. Much of this has been due to security concerns, cost constraints, but also crucially, skillset gaps in implementing cloud solutions that would allow for their workloads and services to fully take advantage of cloud technologies.
Moving to the cloud requires much more than simply swapping out on-premise servers for servers hosted in some remote datacentre, instead it requires an entire philosophical shift both from an organisational as well as from a deployment/service delivery perspective in order to fully take advantage of cloud benefits.
Both as an academic at the University of St Andrews with a focus on cloud/edge computing, as well as having worked on and deployed production-grade applications for the cloud in startups, I’ve seen the advantages and challenges of the cloud first hand.
My current research lies around intelligent prediction of which workloads to run in the cloud and which ones to keep on the edge. For those not familiar with the term edge, it denotes compute infrastructure that is closest to the end-user, at the edge of the network.
Such compute resources are not “traditional servers” but instead could be anything from your laptop, to mini-PCs, desktop computers etc. which can all be harnessed to deploy services for end-users. There are several use-cases when you may not or cannot always use the cloud such as for compliance, response time, etc. where processing/data needs to be close to the end-user.
In my panel session on A Journey to the Cloud – Not Just Another IT Project I will be sharing more on this work, and how a combination of the edge and the cloud can satisfy many of the concerns in public sector cloud adoption such as cost and security concerns whilst allowing for innovation.
I’m looking forward to sharing, learning and engaging with the audience on this topic at Holyrood's Public Sector Cloud event.
Dr Nnamdi Ekwe-Ekwe is a lecturer at the School of Computer Science at the University of St Andrews.