Cloud and Edge with Steve Herrod

Steve Herrod led engineering at VMWare as the company scaled from 30 engineers to 3,000 engineers. After 11 years, he left to become a managing director for General Catalyst, a venture capital firm. Since he has both operating experience and a wide view of the technology landscape as an investor, he is well-equipped to discuss a topic that we have been covering on Software Engineering Daily: the integration of cloud and edge computing.

Today, we think of the cloud as a network of large data centers operated by big players like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. The cloud is where most of the computation across the world takes place. My smartphone and laptop are “edge” devices. They are lightweight computers that don’t perform much complex processing. I would not be able to run a large production database or a 3 terabyte MapReduce job on my laptop.

The current division of labor makes sense in this world of smart clouds and low-power, low-bandwidth devices. But the devices are getting cheaper, smarter, and more proliferate. Cars, drones, security cameras, sensors, and other devices can serve as points of computation that are geographically between the edge devices and the cloud. With more devices between you and the cloud, there is an opportunity to put computation on those devices.

Everyone knows that cloud and edge computing will become intermingled in the coming years. But predicting just how it will play out is nearly impossible. And as an investor, if you bet on something too early, you get the same result as someone who was wrong altogether.

A good analogy for the “cloud and edge” space of investments might be the “smart home.” Everyone knows the smart home is coming eventually, but it’s very hard to tell how long it will be before smart home systems are in widespread use–so it is an open question of how to invest in the space.

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