When you think of the Edge, what immediately comes to mind? Cliffhangers, adventures, and sharp corners often are the first things to appear, but what about Edge Computing? It’s a relatively new buzzword and one that has been captivating IT departments and business leaders alike recently. Edge Computing is a new frontier, but unlike the edge of the world, this Edge actually comes closer to you in order to help streamline business functions and protect mission-critical elements of your business.
According to Gartner, in 2018, roughly 10% of enterprise-generated data was created and processed outside a traditional centralized data center or cloud. By 2025, they predict this figure will reach a whopping 75%. It’s definitely best to get in on the action now so you’re ready for the big push to the Edge. By leveraging the power of Edge Computing, companies prioritize both the employee and the customer experience when accessing applications and data.
What It Means
Edge Computing solutions facilitate data processing either on-premises or near the source of data generation. The data generation sources are often sensors or embedded devices, but more recently they include mobile devices like laptops, tablets, smartphones, and wearables. The Edge is decentralized by nature and serves as an extension of the campus networks, cellular networks, data center networks or the cloud.
Data center colocation facilities can work as local sources for processing and storage for many of these systems and an Edge gateway has the ability to process data from a device and filter out only the relevant data to send, immediately reducing strain on bandwidth. At its core, Edge Computing allows for efficient processing of large volumes of data near its source. This reduces bandwidth use and costs and improves application efficiency in even the most remote locations.
Many businesses create data that is most efficiently processed when the computing power is close to its generator, rather than making the long trek to the cloud. The Edge addresses their need for localized computing, and IT infrastructure and operations teams tasked with managing these solutions should be comfortable navigating the balance of associated business value and risks. It’s important to note that although it may interact with a centralized cloud, a cloud connection is not necessary for Edge Computing.
Edge Computing is a way of making high-priority functions, services and infrastructure accessible, quick and efficient. Here are a few common questions that we see when discussing the Edge with our customers.
Does Edge Computing Compete with the Cloud?
While it can often sound like the Edge will act as a replacement to the cloud or it will force companies to choose, it really is the opposite. By leveraging both cloud and Edge technology, you have more flexibility and security and can prioritize speeds for critical functions and applications. Think of the route from the cloud to the end user as a trek up and down a mountain. The Edge server can act like an outpost where there is less distance from the end user to mission critical information.
For example, a chemical plant choosing to utilize the Edge and the cloud concurrently will likely elect to keep their HR policies in the cloud but then have their plant sensors routed through the Edge, so in the event of an emergency the auto shut-offs will be able to deploy faster – saving money, property damage, and likely human lives. If they were to rely solely on the cloud for these technologies, it’s entirely possible that help might arrive too late. There is a place for both the cloud and the Edge in most companies, it’s just a matter of understanding where and how to use each one.
Will It Be Fast Enough?
This can be a major concern for companies looking to transition to an Edge/cloud hybrid model for their service. With the correct planning, it will actually make vital processes much faster because you’re decreasing the physical distance between your server and your data generation points.
Even aside from simple physics, speeds will be faster because you’re not routing all traffic through one point, but rather creating specialized paths for each Edge server. Instead of using and congesting one superhighway, you’re creating a more complex network of servers and paths to the cloud, allocating bandwidth as needed. This is truly one of the most customizable options for smooth flows of traffic, avoiding those irritating bottlenecks when too many users are trying to access one application.
It is true that there are instances where your less-than-critical data and applications might experience slower speeds, but in reality, the change in speed is often not even discernable by the end user. That’s not to say that this shouldn’t be a consideration, but it is important to note that moving to the Edge will not be disruptive to your organization if you make the correct decisions about what stays in the cloud and what moves to the Edge.
How Do We Keep it Secure?
Ultimately, keeping data on-site or in an Edge server reduces the security risks that come with porting data, which is critical for high-compliance industries like finance or healthcare. The shorter distances mean that there are shorter spans of vulnerability than there would be in a traditional cloud model.
Because companies typically invest in multiple Edge servers connected to a cloud network, all must be equally protected to stop cyber-attacks in their tracks. If a loophole is left in a company’s Edge security, it can provide hackers easy access to the core of a network. This is of particular concern if companies race to adopt the newest technology without a full understanding of the security risks it may pose to Edge devices like phones, laptops or tablets that are much smaller than traditional devices, making them significantly more vulnerable to being stolen or otherwise physically manipulated.
One of the key tenants of Edge security is endpoint user security, especially within your employee network. If your employees are working from a coffee shop or are having a meeting in a public place, they are running a higher risk of a malicious attack of their device, on top of having their device stolen. Make sure your company has clear policies to mitigate this vulnerability.
Dual factor authentication and security questions for both employees as well as customers utilizing mobile applications or remote access platforms should be aware of the risks of Edge computing (though you may use other language to help explain). We recommend requiring dual factor authentication for your team members and customers in order to access mobile or remote platforms. This is one of the simplest and most effective ways to ensure endpoint security, protecting your Edge servers as well as your cloud.
Still Not Convinced? Here are a Few More Benefits.
Life on the Edge may sound like a risky prospect, but there are so many benefits that far outweigh the risk for companies looking for a more secure, efficient model for their IT infrastructure. Take a glance at some of the other key reasons businesses are making the decision to move toward Edge Computing solutions.
Especially in today’s IT landscape, it’s not always possible for companies to anticipate their future growth and IT infrastructure needs. Business may experience rapid growth, or like this year, external causes may make for a slower year.
These obstacles can be expensive and time consuming to navigate, therefore businesses are moving away from owning and operating their own data centers. Fortunately, the development of Edge Computing makes it easier than ever for businesses to scale their operations in response to internal and external changes. Edge Computing is a more cost-effective alternative to dedicated data centers that allows enterprises to expand through a combination of IoT devices and Edge data centers.
Edge data centers give enterprises the power to support their end users with limited physical distance and latency. For providers who deliver streaming services, this benefit provides immeasurable value to both the company and its audience, as they are able to say goodbye to slow loading times and poor streaming quality. The use of Edge Computing devices also reduces growth costs because each new device added won’t impose substantial bandwidth demands on the core of the network.
If you have better speed and security, increased reliability will follow. With the Edge positioned closer to end users, you are significantly less likely to experience a network problem in a distant location affecting local customers or businesses far and wide.
When you make the choice to process data closer to the source and prioritize select traffic, Edge Computing reduces the amount of data flowing to and from the primary network, leading to lower latency and faster overall speed.
With so many Edge computing devices and Edge data centers connected to the network, it is much more difficult for any single failure to cause a loss of service. Effectively incorporating IoT Edge computing devices and Edge data centers into a comprehensive IT architecture will provide both your employees and customers with unparalleled reliability.
Is it Time for You to Move to the Edge?
For many companies, the cost savings alone can be a driver towards deploying an Edge Computing architecture. For companies that have embraced public cloud for many of their applications, they are discovering that costs were much higher than they expected.
Here are a few examples of companies who felt like a move to the Edge was the best choice for them:
- A medical facility that was overwhelmed by the volume of data coming from medical devices tracking and updating patient information, security systems, and more. This information was being sent to a remote location and they were frequently overextending their bandwidth, leading to latency and network failure. By moving some of those critical operations to an Edge Computing model, they were able to reduce latency and improve overall network performance, regardless of how many IoT devices were generating data.
- A nuclear power plant was nervous about the response times of its sensors and potential outages in the event of a cyber-attack or natural disaster. By investing in Edge servers, they were able to ensure that their shut offs and security sensors would be less effected in the event of an outage, allowing them to continue operating safely as the issue is resolved.
- A financial organization was looking for a faster option to use in tandem with its public cloud that would keep its clients’ information secure and improve the slow network speeds that were causing delays in processing transactions. By introducing Edge servers to host their most critical and frequently accessed information, they were able to provide quicker service to their clients while upholding their compliance requirements.
This list is by no means exhaustive, so if you have any other questions or are considering a move to the Edge, it’s a great time to have a chat with your provider to talk about how to best leverage this pioneering technology for the future of your organization.
LightEdge—the Proof is in Our Name
We believe in the power of the Edge so much that it’s become part of our brand identity. As a top-tier compliant colocation services provider, we pride ourselves on providing a high level of availability and reliability through secure, certified data centers and dedicated staff onsite. Our customized and scalable services put you in the driver’s seat, whether you need a colocation rack, cage or custom suite.
When asked about what makes us unique from our competitors, one of the first answers is always – our network. Our history with network goes all the way back to 1996 when we were founded as an ISP. We spent over two decades making sure our network and infrastructure were scalable, redundant, and secure enough to meet the most challenging IT needs.
From a dedicated physical infrastructure to a virtual delivery model, we’ve got the compliant cloud and hosting solution for your organization. Retain the level of control you want, and the amount of data isolation you require.
LightEdge offers a free risk assessment from our Chief Security Officer as a free resource to all of our clients. LightEdge’s highly trained compliance and network security experts take the guesswork out of keeping your business protected. LightEdge’s top priorities include compliance and network security to guarantee that our customer’s data is protected.
Does this article have you considering a move to the edge? Reach out to one of our LightEdge Network Experts today. We have worked with hundreds of organizations across the nation to improve their latency, security, and reliability. We are ready to work with you and help you gain the same benefits.