The edge of the cloud

The edge of the cloud

Once upon a time, “the cloud” was a technology buzzword – an ethereal promise of a future, hyper-connected reality. Today, it’s hard to escape its reach or its benefits – our emails, photos, files, and apps are synced and stored across all our devices, available at the touch of a button. We now take for granted the speed and security of cloud-based systems. 

What is the true size of the cloud? 

To give an estimate of the scale of cloud usage, the International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that by 2025 worldwide data storage will stand at 175 Zettabytes, nearly half of which will be stored on public cloud environments1.What’s a Zettabyte? Well, take a Gigabyte and multiply it by 1,000. Then multiply it by 1,000 again, and then 1,000 again. That’s an Exabyte. Five Exabytes is enough to store every word ever spoken by mankind. A Zettabyte is 1,000 Exabytes, and we’re going to need almost two hundred of those.2 

Of course, our laptops, phones, and tablets aren’t the only thing consuming all that data. Increasingly we’re being introduced to the “Internet of Things” – our TVs and watches, even our refrigerators and lightbulbs. A smart home isn’t science fiction anymore, more often it’s just the status quo.  

We use exponentially more data than we ever have, but we’re also much further away from it. Discussions of network bandwidth that were once the domain of IT specialists have entered our everyday conversations, we all know the implications of a weak signal or “not enough bars”. We’ve all felt the frustration of suddenly finding yourself offline at an inopportune moment. 

The edge of the cloud

Why edge deployments are on the rise 

Thankfully, the focus of cloud technology is not just about centralizing storage and processing. Increasingly, providers like Amazon AWS3, Microsoft Azure4, and Google Cloud5 are focusing on the “edge”, or those devices that access cloud services. Moving closer to the edge is literally about proximity, deploying cloud logic directly on hardware like phones, tablets, refrigerators, and lightbulbs. Importantly, edge deployments allow a consistent and seamless experience between the edge devices and the core cloud-based systems. 

Although there are many reasons to deploy to the edge, the use-cases we see at Coherent fall broadly into solving two main problems. 

  • Limited Connectivity – Digital Sales tools need to be deployed where customers are, which does not always have the best internet coverage. For instance, insurance agents might visit customers in rural areas. Offline API services, like the ones created using Coherent Spark, can be deployed onto phones and tablets with an offline runner, providing a convenient way to give a consistent customer experience whether the device is online or off. 
  • Data Residency – Financial institutions must comply with strict rules regarding the storage and processing of customer data, especially if it contains PII. These rules may be regulatory requirements or for compliance with their own internal risk processes. Logic configured on Coherent Spark can be downloaded and run locally on desktops or private clouds. With minimal investment, companies can derive the benefits of centrally managed and governed services while keeping sensitive data within the required boundaries. 

With Coherent Spark, you can convert your Excel-based logic into code in minutes and deploy it instantly. Accessible anywhere, Spark services don’t require specialized coding or manual reconfiguration to be ready for the cloud. Take advantage of the speed and scale of your cloud-provider’s high-performance data centers or take your services all the way to the edge. That’s the power of Coherent Spark. 


Allan Wong

Head of R&D, Coherent Spark

Allan plays dual roles as the Head of R&D for Spark, Coherent’s proprietary logic and rules engine, and as a senior member of the Actuarial team leading client projects. With an insatiable curiosity and collaborative mindset, Allan is focused on helping Coherent’s product managers find innovative and practical ways to use our ever-evolving technological capability. He believes in insurance and financial services as noble professions, centered in protecting lives and legacies, and is passionate about expanding access to quality products through technology.

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