Applications are permeating the online economy. However, it’s not entirely clear whether their deployment is moving in a mainly centripetal or centrifugal direction—that is, whether they are gravitating to the cloud center or moving outward to the edge.

Applications—in the form of software, services, workloads, and business logic—tend to move in rough alignment with the data that they generate and consume. Depending on whom you ask, apps are either flocking en masse into the core of the cloud—attracted by the growing volume of data lakes—or scattering as minute microservices out to the edges, following the spread of mobile, embedded, and Internet-of-things devices.

Is data gravity real?

We live in an increasingly cloud-to-edge world, so the trend could easily go in either direction. Some observers cite the nouveau notion of “” to support whatever directional shift they’re seeing in the deployment of online applications.