Can Distributed Computing Take On The Might Of AWS?

Developing your strategic app could involve multiple challenges. Selecting the right approach to IT infrastructure is a key one among them, as I have explained in “10 biggest challenges when developing an app”.

Businesses often grapple with the question of whether to use distributed computing vs cloud computing for their strategic applications. Given the prominence of AWS in the world of cloud computing, the question often boils down to “can distributed computing take on the might of AWS”?

If you are a senior business leader trying to figure this out, then this guide is just the right one for you. I will explain the pros and cons of both, however, let’s review some basics first.

Contents

What is distributed computing?
How distributed computing emerged
Benefits of distributed computing over centralized computing
What is cloud computing?
Various cloud computing deployment methods
Different types of cloud computing
Pros and cons of cloud computing
AWS: A brief overview
Advantages and disadvantages of AWS
Distributed computing vs cloud computing
Pros and cons of distributed computing
Should you consider a distributed computing system over AWS?
Planning to build a strategic app?

What is distributed computing?

Distributed computing involves multiple computers addressing a single overall computing requirement. It’s a concept of computing that divides one problem into several parts, subsequently, different computers try to solve different parts. Read more about it in “Distributed computing system”.

When IT architects conceive distributed computing systems well, the computers communicate among themselves effectively. The result is that the resultant network of computers behaves like one cohesive system.

How distributed computing emerged

Distributed computing arose when the limitations of centralized computing systems became apparent. Let’s take the example of IBM Mainframe, a centralized computing system where one central computer would control the entire gamut of computational tasks. It served businesses well for decades!

However, it was found to be of limited effectiveness when the requirement to concurrently serve many online users arose, which gave rise to distributed computing. Google Web Server is a good example of distributed computing.

When users perform a Google search, multiple servers work together to quickly deliver the search results. Users perceive it as one system, however, it’s a distributed computing system in the background. Read more about it in “Cloud computing Vs distributed computing”.

Benefits of distributed computing over centralized computing

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The emergence of distributed computing offered several tangible benefits to businesses, and these are as follows:

  • Compared to Mainframes, the price/performance ratio is better in the case of distributed computing. You can attribute this to the ease of adding more computers to a distributed computing network, which is a lot cheaper than acquiring another mainframe!
  • Distributed computing systems provide more computing power when compared to centralized computers, moreover, it allows incremental growth of computing power.

Read more about this in “Cloud computing vs. distributed computing”.

To appreciate the differences between distributed computing and cloud computing, you now need to understand what cloud computing is. Read on.

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing involves delivering computing resources over the Internet. The computing resources in question could be of various types, e.g., servers, storage, software, networking, databases, etc.

Cloud computing providers let you pay for the resources you use, therefore, you could lower your “Total Cost of Operations” (TCO). Businesses can achieve faster product iteration, flexibility vis-à-vis resources, and economies of scale with the help of cloud computing. You can read more about it in “What is cloud computing?”.

Various cloud computing deployment methods

There are various cloud computing deployment methods, and these are as follows:

1. Public cloud

A highly popular delivery model for cloud computing, a public cloud is owned by a 3rd party. A company providing public cloud services manages it completely and delivers computing resources like server and storage to people/companies.

AWS, Microsoft Azure, etc. are examples of public cloud providers. Consumers of such services use shared hardware, networking, etc. with other people/companies. Read more about public cloud in “What are public, private and hybrid clouds?”.

2. Private cloud

A private cloud is a collection of computing resources for one organization only, and there’s no concept of sharing these resources with another entity. An organization might choose to deploy a private cloud on its premises, alternatively, a 3rd party provider might host it.

3. Hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud is a cloud computing delivery model that uses both public and private cloud services. Organizations might use a private cloud for applications with higher security requirements, whereas, they might host an app with lower security requirements on a public cloud.

Different types of cloud computing

You can utilize cloud computing in your organization in different ways, and these typically use a “Pay as you go” model. These flavors of cloud computing are as follows:

1. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

IaaS refers to managed cloud services providers offering computing services like storage, networking, and virtualization. Read more about it in “IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS enter the eCommerce vernacular: what you need to know, examples & more”. An example is the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

2 Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

Several managed cloud services providers offer storage, networking, operating system, middleware, and runtime environment on the cloud so that you can focus on developing your app. These are PaaS platforms, and you can read more about them in “10 top PaaS providers for 2019”.

It’s easy to use databases on PaaS platforms, moreover, you can easily integrate 3rd party APIs with your app. Well-known PaaS platforms offer valuable solutions like DevOps, auto-scaling, etc. AWS Elastic Beanstalk is an example of a PaaS platform.

3. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

Many leading providers of software solutions offer their products as SaaS so that their customers can use them over the Internet. Customers don’t need to download any software. A famous example is Gmail.

Pros and cons of cloud computing

There are various advantages of cloud computing, and these are as follows:

  • Businesses can reduce their IT infrastructure costs, thanks to cloud computing.
  • From a practical standpoint, you can access unlimited storage on the cloud!
  • Managed cloud services providers make backup and recovery of data easy for you.
  • Software integration is easy with all managed cloud services providers.
  • Thanks to cloud computing, you can access your information from anywhere in the world as long as there is an Internet connection.
  • All managed cloud services providers make it easy for you to deploy cloud infrastructure.

Every technology has one or more drawbacks, and it’s the same with cloud computing. The disadvantages of cloud computing are as follows:

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  • You are dependent on your managed cloud services provider to resolve all technical issues at the earliest so that you don’t face disruption in your functioning.
  • A 3rd party provider will have access to your sensitive information if you opt for cloud computing, therefore, you must find the a reliable managed cloud services provider.
  • Cyber-attackers frequently target cloud computing infrastructure, which heightens your risk if you choose to go with cloud.

Read more about this in “Pros and cons of cloud computing”.

AWS: A brief overview

Amazon Web Services (AWS) doesn’t need an introduction, does it? It’s one of the most matured managed cloud services providers, and AWS claims to have over 1 million customers. AWS counts giants like Capital One, GE, etc. among its customers.

It has a presence in all key geographies, and experts have often commended its considerable cloud capabilities. You can read “Top cloud providers 2019: AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud; IBM makes hybrid move; Salesforce dominates SaaS” to learn more about the prominence of AWS in the cloud space.

With EC2, Elastic Beanstalk, etc., AWS covers the entire gamut of managed cloud services. AWS also offers relational databases, NoSQL databases, AWS Lambda for Serverless computing, etc., and you can read more about them in “Cloud Products”. Another advantage of AWS is the comprehensive AWS documentation.

Advantages and disadvantages of AWS

AWS offers many advantages, e.g.:

  • Signing up for AWS is easy, moreover, its management console makes it easy to use even for newbies.
  • AWS is a highly reputed provider of managed cloud services, and it offers flexible and easy-to-understand billing options.
  • With its global presence and robust infrastructure, AWS ensures high availability of services.
  • AWS adds new services frequently, moreover, it focuses on cutting-edge technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), etc.
  • Users can get unlimited capacity in most cases, moreover, AWS offers impressive speed and security.

Read more about this in “Advantages of AWS | disadvantages of AWS,Amazon Web Services”.

In addition to the generic disadvantages of cloud computing, AWS has a few drawbacks. These are as follows:

  • Amazon EC2 and Amazon VPC console impose some limitations on resources.
  • AWS imposes some limitations on security features, moreover, its technical support can be a bit expensive at times.

Distributed computing vs cloud computing

Now that we have a better understanding of distributed computing and cloud computing, we can better appreciate their differences. These differences are as follows:

1. Objective:

Distributed computing systems enable resource-sharing in a collaborative manner. This kind of computing strives to offer various kinds of scalability, e.g., size scalability, i.e., supporting a large number of processes and users concurrently. Consumers of distributed computing systems can also expect administrative scalability, geographical scalability, etc.

On the other hand, the objective of cloud computing is to deliver computing resources in an on-demand environment over the Internet. Cloud computing providers make it transparent that they are offering distinctly different services.

2. Types:

Unlike the public/private/hybrid classification in the case of cloud computing, the classification of distributed computing stands on how they work. There are 3 types of distributed computing systems, namely, “Distributed Information Systems”, “Distributed Pervasive Systems”, and “Distributed Computing Systems”.

The 1st one involves distributing information across servers using communication protocols like “Remote Procedure Calls” (RPC). The 2nd type is made up of embedded devices like sensors, wireless cameras, etc., and they could be unstable.

In the case of the 3rd one, connected computers communicate with each other using messaging protocols. Read more about this in “What is the difference between cloud computing and distributed computing?”.

3. Characteristics

A distributed computing system distributes tasks to different computers while giving the impression of one system to a user. This is entirely different from cloud computing, which provides access to a variety of shared computing resources to users, and users can configure these resources.

Pros and cons of distributed computing

Distributed computing offers several advantages, e.g.:

  • Scalability: You can achieve higher scalability when you use distributed computing since such systems distribute the workload across several computers. In other words, they scale horizontally. You can run computers to their full capacity when the workload is high, conversely, you can scale down when you have a lower workload.
  • Built-in redundancy: Businesses using distributed computing run multiple computers, therefore, there is built-in redundancy.
  • Lower latency: You can design a distributed computing system in a way that distributes the nodes to various geographies. This reduces latency.
  • Lower cost in the long run: While the initial cost of setting up a distributed computing system is higher, they deliver better cost efficiency in the long run.
  • The efficiency of operations: You break down complex computing requirements into smaller chunks when you use a distributed computing system. This improves the efficiency of operations.

Read more about this in “What is distributed computing, its pros and cons?”.

There are a few disadvantages of using a distributed computing system. I have already written about the higher initial cost, however, there are more, e.g.:

  • Complexity: It’s hard to design, deploy, and maintain a distributed computing system.
  • Security challenges: Securing your sensitive data can be hard in a distributed computing environment.

Should you consider a distributed computing system over AWS?

Your business requirements, software development capabilities, and IT architecture capabilities will determine whether to build a distributed computing system or to sign up with a managed cloud services provider like AWS. E.g., if you need to distribute the workload across several servers and have the capabilities to design and build an effective and secure distributed computing system, then such a system could work for you.

On the other hand, do you need a fully-managed, reliable, performant, and scalable on-demand computing resources over the Internet? In that case, you should choose AWS or a similar managed cloud services provider with a solid track record.

Planning to build a strategic app?

Depending on the circumstances, you can opt for either distributed computing or cloud computing. However, developing a strategic app involves many more complexities, and I recommend that you engage a reputed software development company for such projects. Our guide “How to find the best software development company?” can help you to find one.

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Aran Davies

Blockchain Expert | Developer | Writer | Photographer
I love all things blockchain and related to app development. What time I have when I am not busy writing for the DevTeam.Space blog of over 350 articles, I spend sitting around wondering what the future will look like 50 years from now.
Aran Davies