Why the need for a Cloud, Edge and IoT Continuum?

March 24, 2023

Article by Albert Seubers
Co-coordinator of EUCloudEdgeIoT.eu, under Open Continuum, Director of Martel Innovate BV

The way we live, work, travel and enjoy life is highly supported by digital technologies, and this is expanding every day. Cloud being the first step into a continuum that served this digitalization by providing sheer endless compute and data storage capabilities. Demand for data intensive applications drove the need for further reduction of latency. Combined with the concern for data sovereignty and privacy, the need for an extended Edge service started arising. But what is Edge actually? Is it the national hub to the Cloud service provider to allow data to remain in the country? Is it the small form factor compute box closely linked to the devices that allows data processing close to the source? In fact, it is all of that. However, a clear taxonomy on Edge and IoT is still a work in progress.

A Cloud, Edge and IoT continuum is the next step to secure data sovereignty, by providing data processing capabilities close to the source in a secure and managed way. Technologies from different vendors need to be able to cooperate. Guaranteeing a fair lifetime of infrastructure components to justify investments made, and to reduce resources needed. By allowing open and secure collaboration between technologies from different vendors and different age, the reduction of scarce resources is supported and will stop the increasing need for energy.

To manage a Cloud, Edge and IoT continuum several topics need to be addressed. There is a need for an overarching Operating System to manage the IoT-Edge-Cloud collaboration. To do this not only a clear taxonomy is needed, but the collaborating parties should also consider an Open-Source approach to speed up the process of design and development. Differentiation of the parties can be done through the orchestration of operational services provided. As the continuum spans a wide variety of technologies that need to be brought under a single management layer, security is a very important topic to be implemented without impacting latency or data processing power.

Under the EUCloudEdgeIoT.eu initiative many different topics are studied. More research is still needed to come to a single clear operating model that serves EU business and government in the ongoing Digitalization. In the end, it is us, citizens, that are impacted if this continuum is not operating according to the highest level of trust that we need to put into it.