No more edge vs cloud – Both share need for secure remote access as data volumes and cyber-threats soar

By Alan Stewart-Brown, VP EMEA, Opengear

  • 2 weeks ago Posted in

Edge and cloud computing have often been positioned as being diametrically opposed. In fact they serve very different functions. Cloud computing is used to achieve mass centralisation, processing of data that is not time-sensitive and increased storage efficiency. According to a recent report from Marketsand Markets, the global marketing cloud computing market size is expected to grow from US$ 545.8 billion in 2022 to US$ 1,240.9 billion by 2027 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 17.9% during that forecast period.

It is certainly true that for more than fifteen years now, centralised cloud computing has been considered the standard IT delivery platform and that looks set to continue for the foreseeable future. However, with new applications, workload services are demanding an architecture that is built to support a distributed infrastructure – and that’s leading to a new age of edge computing.

The emergence of edge is in some senses a response to the shortcomings of the cloud model, especially around issues of latency (time lag) and limited bandwidth when moving data. Edge computing is leveraged to process time-sensitive data and where there are issues with latency. It is also preferred over cloud computing in remote locations, where there is limited or no connectivity to a centralised location.

The factors driving the move to the edge today are only going to grow moving forwards also. With employees often now widely dispersed, edge data centres create a reliable ‘last mile’ of connectivity, bringing critical data ‘nearer’ to those needing to use it, increasing reliability of access, security and worker productivity. It solves issues around compliance, where information needs to be managed and processed in a specific area to meet local regulations, autonomy, where technology needs to function in isolation away from a dedicated network, and bandwidth where systems are creating vast quantities of data, which cannot feasibly be sent to be processed remotely.

Covid has boosted edge computing, of course. We have seen a boom in people moving away from shopping in big city high streets and prioritising convenience stores in their local area. We have seen the growth of video streaming, an increase and an ongoing rise in online gaming. And all this together has led to an increase in demand for compute power at the edge to drive these kinds of activities, which are increasingly happening in remote locations. And just like cloud, it is now growing at a rapid rate.

A recent global edge computing market size report covering edge computing trend analysis by components, applications, industry vertical and segment forecast suggests that the global edge computing market size is expected to hit $155.90 billion by 2030, exhibiting a compound annual growth rate of about 38.9% during the forecast period.

Scoping the challenge

So, edge and cloud are complementary, not competitive, and both are set to flourish as data volumes continue to grow. Yet, both are also vulnerable to cyber-threats. Cloud computing is centralised, so is more susceptible to direct denial of service (DDoS) attacks and outages. Breaches of multiple kinds are commonplace, however. An Ermetic-commissioned IDC state of cloud security survey, conducted in the first half of 2021, revealed that a staggering 98% of the companies surveyed experienced at least one cloud data breach in the previous 18 months – a significant increase from 79% in the previous survey.

Edge is vulnerable because ongoing consumer demand for faster, more efficient services is putting a greater strain on the organisation’s distributed IT networks, increasing the likelihood of outages.

Edge locations often have less redundancy built in, and no on-site engineers, which can make them less resilient than traditional data center locations.

This new world of cloud and edge will require organisations to adjust their network management approaches to continue delivering the always-on uptime that customers expect.

Finding a way forward

To keep cloud infrastructures and edge data centres up and running, there is a clear need for organisations and service providers to put in place proactive monitoring and alerting, to ensure they can remediate networks without the need to send an engineer on site. Smart Out of Band (OOB) Management tools can be used to diagnose the problem and remediate it, even when the main network is congested due to a network disruption, or even if it is down completely.

Failover to Cellular™ (F2C) provides continued internet connectivity for remote LANs and equipment over high-speed 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE), when the primary link is unavailable. Easily integrating with existing IT systems and network infrastructure, F2C restores WAN connectivity without the need for manual intervention.

Organisations are also using a combination of automation and network operations (NetOps) for zero touch provisioning of their Smart OOB devices, effectively getting the Smart OOB network provisioned and up and running, without the associated risks of manual/human errors. Often, they will want to ‘zero touch provision’ their own devices. They will also want to use this technology for the orchestration of maintenance tasks and to automatically deliver remediation in the event of an equipment failure or other technical problem.

That effectively means that organisations can ship new or replacement equipment to site and using Smart OOB quickly bring the site up via a secure cellular connection allowing for the remote provisioning and configuration of the equipment in-situ with having to send a skilled network engineer to site.

This can deliver huge cost savings for many companies implementing new edge deployments, especially those trying to do so at pace across multiple geographies. Then following deployment, if a problem develops that results in a loss of connectivity to the production network and one that cannot be resolved immediately, business continuity can be maintained with organisations continuing to pass any mission-critical network traffic across the secure OOB LTE cellular connection.

A positive solution for both environments

As cloud service offerings increase and edge computing applications grow, organisations increasingly understand that they need to adjust their network management processes to continue delivering the always-on uptime that customers expect. To do this, they must use hybrid solutions that leverage internet and cloud-based connectivity, as well as physical infrastructure. A combination of Smart Out of Band and the latest NetOps automation principles will make sure that businesses have always-on network access needed to deliver the network resilience required to make their adoption of both cloud and edge an unqualified success.

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