Cloud and Edge computing

Cloud computing is a type of computing that relies on shared computing resources rather than having local servers or personal devices to handle applications. The term is generally used to describe large datacenters available to many users over the Internet (public cloud) or on a private network (private cloud).

Edge computing [R1] is the delivery of computing capabilities to the logical extremes of a network in order to improve the performance, operating cost and reliability of applications and services. By shortening the distance between devices and the resources that serve them, and also reducing network hops, it mitigates the latency and bandwidth constraints of today's Internet, ushering in new classes of applications.

The combination of edge and cloud computing in a single continuum is part of the “fog computing” paradigm [R2] and includes a common management of every computing resource. Compute and data storage resource, as well as applications and their data, are positioned in the most optimal place between the user and Cloud. In practical terms, this means distributing new resources and software stacks along the path between today's centralized datacenters and the increasingly large number of devices in the field, concentrated, in particular, but not exclusively, in close proximity to the last mile network, on both the infrastructure and device sides.

Technology Types

Edge computing can either use existing devices (routers, servers, gateways, switches,…), telecom base stations or dedicated physical components known as cloudlets (“data center in a box”) with extensive use of virtualization techniques.

Components & enablers

A good infrastructure is needed, such as high-bandwidth telecommunications, ICT infrastructure in the substation or existing telecom equipment (ie routers). Digital substation automation maximize the capabilities of edge computing through direct connection.

Micro-services architectures, virtualization, containerization and orchestration tools are key to achieve a smooth operation.

Advantages & field of application

Edge computing facilitates the processing of delay-sensitive and bandwidth-hungry applications near the data source by pre-processing data. Cloud computing provides scalable computing and storage resources. The right combination between cloud and edge based applications is key to maximum performance.

Technology Readiness Level

2020: TRL 6-7 (higher in Telcos)

Research & Development

Current fields of research:

  • Fault tolerant architectures
  • Distributed storage, hierarchical data mining
  • Seamless management and configuration of heterogeneous components, automatic resource allocation between cloud and edge

Innovation priority to increase overall TRL:

  • Adapt existing framework to TSO specific protocols (61850, 60870-5-104, …) to implement demonstrators
  • Experiment large scale management system

Best practice performance

Dedicated cloud operating system (possibly OpenStack, EdgeXFoundry)

Separation of control and data planes

APIs to support interoperability

Best practice application


[R1]-Open Glossary of Edge Computing. [Link]

[R2]-Fog Computing Conceptual Model NIST Special Publication 500-325. [Link]