Legacy edge IT is a major barrier to digital transformation. While the cloud came with the promise of making business more efficient, it has actually increased complexity for corporate IT as organisations strive to transform for the digital age.
This complexity intensifies at the enterprise edge. Branch offices and other remote locations are critical to corporate success, but have become expensive roadblocks to digital transformation due to limited IT expertise, islands of aging infrastructure, inefficient operations, unreliable application performance, and massive volumes of unprotected data.
The problem IT faces is that while the enterprise edge has changed dramatically over the past few years, edge technology has not. Yesterday’s edge technologies fall short from the perspective of what enterprises actually want and need from their edge technology platforms:
AGILITY AND VELOCITY
What today’s enterprises need – the point of an edge location is to place staff close to where business happens. By extension, edge locations have a fundamental need to react quickly to changing business conditions. This could be fulfilling a massive order, rolling out a new store, or reacting at a moment’s notice to an outage affecting revenue generating transactions or units coming off an assembly line far away from expert IT staff.
How yesterday’s technology falls short – legacy IT architectures are complex and rigid. Configuration is done one device at a time, often with command line interfaces or complex home grown scripts. Maintaining increasingly complex infrastructures at some edge locations, often from multiple vendors, adds to this complexity and time wasted. Hand configuring and maintaining so many remote edge locations leads to the precise opposite of the agility and velocity the edge requires. This is compounded by a lack of local IT resources, or operational costs incurred in effort to provide adequate onsite expertise.
What today’s enterprises need – security is a growing problem for IT and a priority-one focus for enterprises. Company data assets are rapidly growing, not only from local applications but also from IoT devices. Today, roughly half of these vulnerable data assets sit at edge locations, and with the onset of IoT said to be exponentially increasing industrial data over the next 5 years, this is a critical concern.
Networks are also increasingly vulnerable with a growing number of ransom-ware, malware and virus-related attacks. As the ability to stay competitive at the edge increases, enterprises will need to find the most cost-effective ways to meet compliance and security requirements without increasing risk.
How yesterday’s technology falls short – legacy IT architectures present a security nightmare. They place a heavy footprint of infrastructure at the edge with compute, storage, networking devices, and an enormous number of IoT devices, all of which presents an enlarged attack surface. Worse, legacy architectures place huge amounts of vulnerable data at minimally protected and minimally managed edge locations leading to an unacceptable risk of loss, attack or misappropriation.
What today’s enterprises need – increased distances from the cloud or data centre make application performance suffer, and for some applications such as database-driven ERP, POS or Line-of-Business systems, the health of the business counts on high availability and always-on local performance. For some sites, it’s not always possible to cost-justify high-quality MPLS links to the edge, and a new generation of SaaS and public-cloud based apps have also brought about a hybrid approach to business apps and networks.
Enterprises must achieve increased control over the performance of Internet-based apps if they are to play a key role in business being transacted. And with the increased use of IoT at the edge to capture and analyse data, enterprises must also have the ability to run some data analytics close to the point of capture in order to stay agile.
How yesterday’s technology falls short – it’s difficult to deliver high performance at the edge due to distance, unreliable connectivity and a lack of remote IT staff to troubleshoot issues. So, for mission critical apps where a lacking of local performance can cost reputation, revenue and competitive advantage, edge locations often become costly-to-maintain, power-consuming, mini-data centres.
This traditionally means a significant server, storage, backup, WAN Op and networking infrastructure footprint on site at the edge location, often cobbled together with many systems to maintain from multiple vendors without the luxury of expert data centre staff and resources.
The edge is creating a new focus for IT. How well IT does at the edge will drive how well the organisation does overall. Key for IT is enabling enterprise agility by making sure edge locations have the flexibility to change at a moment’s notice to react to changing business needs and environmental conditions. IT must build-in this agility and velocity at the infrastructure level, in how data is accessed, stored, protected and analysed, and in how applications are delivered.
We partner with Riverbed, the only vendor with a complete network solution that spans from the cloud to the edge. Riverbed provides an intelligent, zero-touch approach to deploying and managing the applications, data, and IT infrastructure that power edge locations in today’s cloud-centric world.
‘Modernising the Edge’ taken from Riverbed ebook entitled ‘Modernising the Edge of Your Enterprise’.