Edge computing is here, and just in time. It has become a critical enabler for successful cloud computing as well as the continued growth of the internet of things (IoT). Edge computing does come with its own unique challenges, ranging from increased complexity to a more extensive attack surface for security threats. All that said, the advantages far outweigh the challenges.
What is edge computing?
To understand why edge computing is so important, let’s first look at cloud computing, which is fast becoming a staple of most agency environments.
One of the primary advantages of cloud computing is the ability to remove a vast amount of data and processing out of the agency—off-premises—so the federal IT pro no longer has to spend time, effort, and money maintaining that data.
Logistically, this means agency data is traveling hundreds or thousands of miles back and forth between the end user device and the cloud. Clearly, latency can become an issue. Enter edge computing, which essentially places micro data centers at the “edge” of the agency network. These micro data centers, or edge devices, serve as a series of distributed way stations between the agency network and the cloud.
With edge devices in place, computing and analytics power is still close to end-user devices—eliminating the latency issue—and the data that doesn’t have to be processed immediately is routed to a cloud data center at a later time. Latency problem solved.
Overcoming edge computing challenges
The distributed nature of edge computing may seem to bring more complexity, more machines, greater management needs, and a larger attack surface.
Luckily, as computing technology has advanced, so has monitoring and visualization technology to help the federal IT pro realize the benefits of edge computing without additional management or monitoring pains.
Implementing edge devices should be treated the same as any other new technology. Start by creating a strategy; this will help drive a successful implementation.
Be sure to include compliance and security details in the strategy, as well as configuration information. Create thorough documentation, which is particularly important for large agencies seeking to standardize their hardware and software requirements.
Be sure patch management is part of the security strategy. 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.
Monitoring, visualizing, and troubleshooting
Equally important to managing edge systems is monitoring, visualization, and troubleshooting.
Monitoring all endpoints on the network will be a critical piece of successful edge computing management. 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.
Additionally, be sure to invest in tools that provide full infrastructure visualization, so the federal IT pro can get a complete picture of the network at all times. Add in full network troubleshooting to be sure the team can monitor its entire infrastructure as well. Network, systems, cloud management, and monitoring tools will optimize results and provide protection across the entire distributed environment.
Like any technology, edge computing comes with its own unique growing pains. By creating a sound implementation strategy and using the right tools to monitor and manage the network, these pains can be eased and the benefits of edge computing fully realized.