What is distributed Cloud?
Distributed cloud is a public cloud computing service that allows you to run public cloud infrastructure in multiple locations – not just on the infrastructure of your cloud provider, but also on premises, in the data centres of other cloud providers, or in third-party data centres or colocation centres – and manage everything from a single control plane.
With this targeted, centralized distribution of public cloud services, your company can deploy and run applications or individual application components in a mix of cloud locations and environments that best meet your performance, regulatory compliance, and other requirements. In hybrid cloud or multi-cloud environments, distributed cloud resolves operational and management inconsistencies.
Perhaps most importantly, distributed cloud provides an ideal foundation for edge computing, which involves running servers and applications closer to the edge.
The Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), telecommunications (telco), and other applications that require massive amounts of data to be processed in real time are driving demand for distributed cloud and edge computing. However, distributed cloud is also assisting businesses in overcoming the challenges of complying with country- or industry-specific data privacy regulations – and, more recently, providing IT services to employees and end-users affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
How distributed cloud works
Distributed cloud takes it a step further by distributing a public cloud provider’s entire compute stack to wherever a customer may require it – on-premises in the customer’s own data centre or private cloud, or off-premises in one or more public cloud data centres that may or may not be owned by the cloud provider.
The provider’s centralized cloud is extended by geographically distributed micro-cloud satellites in distributed cloud. The cloud provider retains central control over all distributed infrastructure operations, updates, governance, security, and reliability. And the customer sees everything as a single cloud, including the centralized cloud services and satellites wherever they are located, and manages it all from a single control plane. In this way, as industry analyst Gartner puts it, distributed cloud fixes with hybrid cloud and hybrid multi-cloud breaks.
Distributed cloud and edge computing
Edge computing enables you to ‘bring the math to the data,’ putting the computation where the data is created rather than moving it to a centralized cloud data centre for processing and then back to where answers are required for decision support or process automation. As a result, edge computing is increasingly being regarded as critical for applications that process massive amounts of data at high speeds or in real time, where low latency is critical.
Edge computing could be implemented without a distributed cloud architecture. However, distributed cloud makes edge application deployment and management much simpler.
Consider running multiple manufacturing plants, each with its own edge server hosted by a different cloud service provider and processing data from thousands of sensors. With distributed cloud, you can control and manage everything from a single control plane, dashboard, and set of tools from a single cloud, such as deploying and managing Kubernetes clusters, making security updates, and monitoring performance. Without distributed cloud, these tasks and tools may differ depending on the location of the edge server.
Benefits of distributed cloud and edge computing
- Benefits of distributed cloud and edge computing
- Improved visibility and manageability of hybrid cloud/multi-cloud infrastructure: Distributed cloud can help any organization gain greater control over its hybrid multi-cloud infrastructure by providing visibility and management from a single console using a single set of tools.
- Easier and more cost-effective scalability and agility: With distributed cloud, an organization can quickly expand to existing infrastructure or edge locations while using the same tools and personnel.
- Better industry or regulatory compliance: A distributed cloud infrastructure greatly simplifies an organization’s ability to process PI in each user’s country of residence. Processing data at the source can also help healthcare, telecommunications, and other industries comply with data privacy regulations.
- Faster content delivery: By storing and delivering video content from locations closer to end-users, a content delivery network (CDN) deployed on a distributed cloud can improve streaming video content performance – and the user experience.
- Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning applications: Video surveillance, manufacturing automation, self-driving cars, healthcare applications, smart buildings, and other applications rely on real-time data analysis and cannot wait for data to travel to a central cloud data centre and back. The low latency required by these applications is delivered by distributed cloud and edge computing.