How Edge Computing, Edge Networking, and Edge Data Management Work Together

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Across IT, practitioners and vendors continue to grapple with the clarity of what is referred to as “edge” infrastructure. But in the end, the goals are the same: lower latency and greater application resiliency.

A recent innovation in the industry revealed a trio of distinct elements – edge computing, edge networking, and edge data management – that form the building blocks of an IT strategy. successful periphery. Understanding the differences between each element and how they work together will allow IT teams to unlock the true promise of the edge.

What is advanced computing?

Edge computing is best described as the ability to move dynamic computing to the edge of the Internet and closer to the users and machines that require computing and processing power. Guided by trends like IoT and 5G, telecom providers led the charge as they already had the footprint to support it. The addition of micro-data centers and the association with cloud providers has enabled carriers to move processing from centralized data centers on-premises or in the cloud to the edge.

The push towards advanced computing has been driven by the need to improve application performance and optimize server resources; however, adoption presented challenges. Creating an application that exists on a highly distributed edge compute footprint is different from creating an application that operates from one or two data centers. And for many years, few tools existed to make this scalable and repeatable.

Recently, containers and serverless infrastructure have made edge computing more accessible. Some companies are now running their workloads on Kubernetes clusters distributed around the world or on serverless functions within service provider environments. For example, a game company can leverage different cloud resources or content delivery networks to ensure the best performance for those regions. Or it can choose to increase a workload at a co-located facility in a specific region or country to support high capacity when launching a new game.

However, many challenges remain, such as data synchronization, distributed fleet management, global traffic and workload orchestration, etc.

What is an edge network?

Edge networking is quickly becoming an increasingly common goal of infrastructure investments as employees and end users become more distributed and dynamic in their geography and connectivity. While edge computing focuses on bringing the processing and computing closer to users, edge networking encompasses all aspects of connectivity, everything that connects applications to audiences, with an emphasis more optimized routing of data and network traffic over distributed footprints.

What matters is the successful distribution of application workloads, which makes applications more efficient and resilient and organizations less dependent on individual data centers, or cloud or CDN providers. Teams use application traffic management strategies to direct and balance real-time workloads appropriately across resources as conditions and demand change in dynamic and distributed infrastructure footprints.

Edge networks can also be realized on distributed physical infrastructure, including branch offices or campuses. Retail is a good example: these companies want to optimize the equipment footprint in their stores to improve usability while minimizing the need for additional infrastructure. The main mechanism for success is the same: scalable distributed network management and optimizations to efficiently connect application resources across the fleet.

What is edge data management?

While significant progress has been made at the edge, another challenge remains: the issue of data severity and mobility.

For a business with a heavy database and code running in hundreds of locations around the world, optimizing data mobility is crucial. Teams often struggle to move the most relevant parts of this database to the right locations at a precise time so that latency is minimized, but data is not constantly in transit. They need to determine the minimum set of places that this dataset could live to maximize performance but minimize the overhead of distributing data across a global footprint.

Meeting this huge challenge will increasingly become a goal to unlock scalable innovation at the periphery.

The integration of on-board components gives the greatest success

IT managers need to have a clear understanding of each of the building blocks of the edge, as new trends, such as supporting a distributed workforce and increased demand for online services, are pushing businesses to consider connectivity improvements for employees and customers.

Edge computing solves code placement distribution (compute workloads), while edge networking connects a user with the right code and the right data at the right time to optimize performance, reliability, and Security. Edge data management addresses the challenge of managing large data sets on globally distributed footprints. Once successfully integrated, businesses will discover huge benefits.

For example, industry leaders, such as content providers like Netflix or collaboration technology companies like Dropbox, have succeeded in building their own edge networks by combining distributed edge compute footprints with strategies for edge networking and data management. They have made significant investments in technologies that intelligently orchestrate their application traffic and automate the lifecycles of the resources that support it. They are able to increase and control capacity close to their audiences to ensure a reliable and superior user experience.

The benefits of reducing milliseconds of latency and dealing with performance fluctuations instantly have prompted gaming startups to join the fray. Many have built high performance edge networks that use a software-defined network to intelligently direct traffic packet by packet.

The finely tuned latency benefits of an edge network allow medical diagnostic tools to operate quickly for the best results, speeding up treatments and diagnostics; enable healthcare IoT devices to generate and process large volumes of data; and to support network speeds so physicians can interact with patients remotely, even performing robotic surgeries remotely, without fear of internet disruptions or lag.

Industry practitioners can expect investment and innovation in this space to continue to grow with a focus on new platforms that deliver fundamental services that enable IT teams to build and maintain highly distributed, edge-enabled networks and applications. And as edge technologies multiply and become more accessible, businesses around the world will be able to unlock the promise of edge fingerprints for more efficient, reliable and secure applications.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kris Beevers is CEO of NS1

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