Edge computing is here to stay and it’s no wonder. Edge computing provides federal IT pros with a range of advantages they simply do not have with more traditional computing environments.
First, edge computing brings memory and computing power closer to the source of data, resulting in faster processing times, lower bandwidth requirements, and improved flexibility. Edge computing has also become a critical enabler for the continued surge in Internet of Things (IoT) devices. And, finally, it can be a source of potential cost savings. With edge computing, data is processed in real time at the edge devices, therefore, it can help save computing cycles on cloud servers and reduce bandwidth requirements.
That said, while edge computing may bring advantages, it certainly introduces its share of challenges. Among the greatest challenges are visibility and security, based on the decentralized nature of edge computing.
Have no fear! Challenges are meant to be overcome, and there are certainly ways to overcome these in order to gain the benefits of edge computing.
As with any technology implementation, start with a strategy. Remember, edge devices are under the purview of the government IT pro and are considered agency devices, not cloud devices, therefore they are the responsibility of the federal IT staff. Implementing edge devices should be treated the same as any new technology.
Include compliance and security details in the strategy, as well as configuration management. Create thorough documentation. And, standardize; create a uniform set of hardware and software for edge devices, wherever possible, to enhance consistency and ease manageability.
Visualization and Security
Once the strategy is in place, visualization and security are key.
Remember, accounting for all IT assets includes edge-computing devices, not just those devices in the cloud or on-premises. Be sure to choose a tool that not only monitors remote systems, but provides automated discovery and mapping so the federal IT pro has a complete understanding of all edge devices.
In fact, consider investing in tools that provide full-infrastructure visualization so the federal IT pro can have a complete picture of the entire network at all times. Add in full-network troubleshooting to be sure the team can monitor the complete network as well. Network, systems, and cloud management and monitoring tools will optimize results and provide protection across the entire distributed environment.
To help strengthen security all the way out to edge devices, be sure that all data—whether in-motion or at rest—is encrypted and be sure patch management is part of the security strategy. Strongly consider using automatic push update software that ensures software stays current and that vulnerabilities are addressed in a timely manner. This is an absolute requirement for ensuring a secure edge environment, as is an advanced Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tool that will ensure compliance while mitigating potential threats.
A SIEM tool will also assist with continuous monitoring, which helps federal IT pros maintain an accurate picture of the agency’s security risk posture, providing near real-time security status. This is particularly critical with edge-computing devices which can often go unsecured.
The distributed nature of edge computing technology is increasing in complexity, with more machines, greater management needs, and a larger attack surface.
Luckily, as computing technology has advanced, so has monitoring and visualization technology that will help the federal IT pro realize the benefits of edge computing without additional management or monitoring pains.