“I don’t see the edge eliminating the need for cloud computing. The two will coexist. While an increasing amount of processing will happen at the edge, big data processing will continue to reside in the big data centers,” says Mehdi Daoudi, CEO, Catchpoint, in an exclusive interview with Enterprise Talk.
ET Bureau: According to you, how has the internet evolved with every new wave of industry developments?
Mehdi Daoudi: Imagine having a piece of paper in one hand and a rubber band in the other. What happens if you crumble and squeeze them both very hard? The rubber will return to its original shape; the paper will not.
Economists often return to the economy as the rubber band; to me, you can also equate it to the Internet. No matter what’s thrown at it, it returns to form. Consider when the FCC repealed net neutrality early in Trump’s presidency and again the fear of what would happen to the Internet? Most recently, of course, COVID-19 has led to a distributed workforce; the sudden mass of people working from home has caused Internet patterns to change substantially. What will happen post-COVID-19 when people return to a “new normal”?
What we’ve seen with each of these watershed moments is that with every new wave of industry and world development, the Internet gets better and more resilient. At this point, it’s the world’s biggest enabler, and fortunately, it always rebounds.
ET Bureau: How do we enable the smart revolution in response to the demand for super low latency?
Mehdi Daoudi: The smart revolution is undoubtedly fast approaching, and as it does, it will unleash innovation and huge potential to change our lives for the better. The demand for super low latency is real from many incredible use cases some already here, some yet to come. From the billions of IoT devices and the potential for smart cities to the latency-critical use cases, such as remote surgery and autonomous driving; not to mention new types of entertainment that can’t afford any lag – from online multiplayer gaming to live streaming to VR/AR.
How do we enable the smart revolution? With edge computing: a distributed computing topology where information processing is located as close to the end-user as possible. To truly release the potential of the edge, the larger industry – at all levels – needs to focus on enabling the foundational infrastructure to make it possible. This includes not only storage, but also network, compute, automation, and the infrastructure that connects us with applications.
ET Bureau: Why do you believe that edge computing is the new frontier in the third act of the internet?
Mehdi Daoudi: Everything concerning latency always returns to the speed of light. Digital information cannot change the laws of physics, so the only way to drive lower latency is to bring compute closer to the end user. The Third Act of the Internet is all about how to get content and apps as close as possible to the digital user, whether that’s a smart home camera, a human working from home, or an item of wearable tech.
Compute and applications have been centralized in the cloud over the last decade or so. Now, not only storage, but compute, databases and applications are moving to the edge. It’s the new frontier because, over the next five years or so, I predict we’ll see an arms race over who can deliver better compute and application at the edge since no one’s really there yet.
ET Bureau: What can organizations expect from the current stage of the internet with all its digital capabilities?
Mehdi Daoudi: It’s a fascinating time for the Internet. It’s been tested over the last year in a way that none of us could have foreseen. We’re reminded that it deeply resembles a biological organism: a living, breathing thing that reacts to the stimulus or stimuli thrown at it.
We’ve seen some of the incredible potential the Internet can enable in the Covid-19 tracing initiatives that have been and continue to be such a critical tool in combatting the pandemic. We also see its potential in a very different context in the increasing promise of personalization for marketing and sales. Advances in technology, data and analytics are allowing marketers to build personal, “human” experiences at every touchpoint of the customer journey.
Ultimately, the Internet is merely a tool. It’s what we do with it that matters.
ET Bureau: How do you see the internet evolve in the future?
Mehdi Daoudi: While the Internet is elastic and resilient, as complexity increases and we have seen a concurrent growing number of software releases, an increase in the adoption of new technologies, and a huge spike in traffic. We also see repeated instances of its fragility. This was apparent last month in the fire at the cloud datacenter in Paris, which knocked out government agencies, banks, retailers, and news sources.
Moving towards distributed computing spreads the risk by storing data and enabling compute and the development of applications in more and more places. Having a distributed architecture will therefore become the norm. We’ve seen that the businesses that not only survived but thrived over the last year were those with an elastic agile infrastructure that allowed them to stay flexible and respond to the unexpected. However, I don’t see the edge eliminating the need for cloud computing. The two will coexist. While an increasing amount of processing will happen at the edge, big data processing will continue to reside in the big datacenters (cloud and on-prem).
Another trend I see is the line between CDN and cloud/edge providers continuing to blur, eventually becoming one. Perhaps we should start calling them “experience delivery networks” instead of “content delivery networks”?
Mehdi Daoudi is the CEO and Co-founder of Catchpoint. His experience in IT leadership inspired him to build the digital experience platform he envisioned as a user. He spent more than ten years at Google and DoubleClick, where he was responsible for quality of services, buying, building, deploying, and using internal and external monitoring solutions to keep an eye on the DART infrastructure delivering billions of transactions a day. Mehdi holds a BS in international trade, marketing, and business from Institut Supérieur de Gestion (France).