'Edge to cloud continuum': the compute and storage infrastructure that will prevail over the next decade
IMDEA Networks/DICYT Technological innovations such as cloud computing, the internet of things, big data and WiFi networks have led to applications that were unimaginable a few decades ago and to an increase in the quality of life, an improvement in business decisions thanks to data analysis, etc. This has meant new computational paradigms, such as fog computing (‘fog computing’), edge computing (‘edge computing’), cloud computing and blockchain.
In this context, the EDGEDATA-CM project, of which IMDEA Networks has been part, with Antonio Fernández Anta as principal investigator, has worked to propose new architectures and hybrid solutions that combine these computations. As Fernández Anta highlights: “The main challenge faced by the project was to advance in the seamless integration of cloud computing, edge computing and fog computing from the end users’ point of view. This integration was identified as very important when the project was conceived, and it is becoming increasingly so. In fact, it has been given a name: edge to cloud continuum.”
“The project (continues the researcher) has made progress on a fundamental problem: how to realize the integration of these computations that will most likely be the computing and storage infrastructure that will prevail in the next decade, and any input that leads to its development will be fundamental. At IMDEA Networks we address the issue of trust. In a cloud system, users have only one entity to deal with, the cloud provider. When you mix the cloud, the edge and the fog, you have multiple entities that must collaborate to provide a better service to the end user, but may have competing commercial and economic interests…”.
In this context, the project has enabled the development of distributed technology for reliable data sharing (“we have defined and realized data structures that generalize distributed ledgers, but are much more scalable and guarantee a higher level of consistency than existing systems”). The collective effort has been a significant step forward, as Fernández Anta emphasizes: “Thanks to the collaboration between research groups with different competencies and capabilities, the quality of the end-user experience will improve. The integration of ‘cloud-edge-fog’ gives them the possibility of having the best of each world, adjusted to the corresponding needs. For example, when using latency-sensitive streaming services, edge computing will be used, while the cloud will be used when high-performance computing is needed, and the switch from one to the other will be done automatically and will not be visible to the public.”
Avenues open to new services
The IMDEA Networks researcher concludes: “The tangible results of the project are research articles describing the new technologies developed, proofs of concept for the implementation of many of these technologies, and even their integration into the new products of several companies with which the researchers maintain close collaboration”. In any case, there is still some way to go, since the integration of the cloud and the edge, as proposed in the project, has not been fully implemented, and there are still research aspects to be resolved in this regard. “The work of IMDEA Networks researchers in particular (adds Fernández Anta) is to explore new concurrent objects that can be used to coordinate competing agents, and build new services with them.”
EDGEDATA-CM (Infrastructure for highly decentralized hybrid systems) has been funded, from January 2019 to April 2023 by the Consejería de Educación e Investigación (Consejería de Educación e Investigación, Comunidad de Madrid), through the R&D Activities Program between Research Groups in Technologies 2018, co-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Operational Programs.