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It wasn’t that long ago that you had to learn about how the cloud would affect you and your client. Even as some stragglers are still getting their arms around those changes, the industry has begun a new subtle shift — back to the edge.

Let’s face it, the cloud has become prominent in the last decade. Some still aren’t there. I’m sure there are MSPs still doing the same kind of patching and backup work they’ve been doing for the last 20 years. They are still managing the hardware in a server closet.

Change always happens more slowly than we think, but it also pays to understand where the industry is going. There are always going to be new or existing clients who want to stay abreast of the latest industries changes, and as the de facto IT department it’s good to be able act as an advisor when the need arises.

One such change is the growing shift to the edge. Certain workloads like manufacturing often can’t tolerate even a bit of latency. That means that they need the computing close by. That doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be in the building, but it needs to be in the geographical area.

Cutting edge

In a visionary presentation in 2017, Peter Levine, a partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz laid out a rather bold supposition. He predicted that cloud computing was going to be replaced as our primary infrastructure by edge computing.

He argued that the rise of sensors and the ensuing data explosion would kill the cloud as we know it. In his scenario, the cloud would no longer be the center of our computing worlds, but more of a place where machine learning and data storage could take place, while workloads that required less latency would move to the edge.

We are actually seeing this manifest itself some three years after his presentation. As a quick example, consider that AWS re:Invent in December, Amazon, seeing this shift, discussed a couple of tools to bring computing closer to the business.

One was Local Zones, which places an Amazon data center in a particular city. That reduces the latency by reducing the distance data has to travel. The other is AWS Outposts, which involves installing an old-fashioned server rack right in your building, just like the old days. It works like any Amazon cloud service, except that it’s onsite. Amazon installs, manages, and maintains it, but it’s in your building.

These are just a couple of examples, and you’ll be seeing more in the next couple of years as more workloads require you to be closer to the source. For now, you should be aware of the kinds of structural changes that could be coming, so you won’t be caught by surprise when your client needs information and guidance.

Photo:  everst / Shutterstock.

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Ron Miller

Posted by Ron Miller

Ron Miller is a freelance technology reporter and blogger. He is contributing editor at EContent Magazine and enterprise reporter at TechCrunch.

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