Technology is constantly changing and changing the world with it. All you have to do is look around to see this principle in action. But some advances affect certain people and areas more than others. Case in point: This is what the rise of “edge devices” means for enterprise IT today.
What Are Edge Devices?
Edge devices definitely sound like something that all the cool kids have at school. And in reality, this isn’t so far from the truth, just transposed over to the business world. Edge devices are the next step in moving closer to an Internet of Things (IoT) world with seamless connectivity.
But that alone doesn’t do enough to answer the question. An edge device can be defined as one where processing is happening within the device itself or made with extremely low latency. To better understand this, it’s important to know how cloud-connected devices work under typical circumstances today.
The big players in cloud computing—Microsoft, Amazon, and Google—all have servers around the world that provide users with a pretty seamless connection. However, as devices continue needing lower latency and greater security in order to fulfill operations, regular cloud computing isn’t quite cutting it.
ITPro Today uses a great edge device example of self-driving cars. Currently, companies such as Nvidia are building edge devices with internal processing in order to reduce latency to an acceptable level for this kind of difficult task. Think about it: Do you want your self-driving car communicating with servers hundreds of miles away, or making key computations on the spot? The answer seems pretty obvious. For these kinds of critical operations, it’s essential to have devices that can operate on the “edge.”
Not all edge devices function in this exact way. Others take advantage of increasingly available access to public servers. This is another way to drastically reduce latency for these devices operating on the far reaches of the cloud.
New Improvements and Challenges
This brings us to the great question: What does this evolution toward edge devices mean for the enterprise IT world? A study from Juniper Research postulates that there will be in excess of 46 billion IoT devices by the year 2021. If that sounds like a big number to you, that’s because it is one. One of the biggest issues enterprise IT is going to have to deal with is the sheer number of devices—and thus vulnerabilities—that are coming with widescale adoption. The fact is this: Enterprises are going to need services and technologies designed specifically for the purpose of managing and securing their edge devices.
Fortunately, there are some emerging products designed to do just that. The secure SD-WAN is one of the best ways to go about doing this. Otherwise known as software-defined wide area network, SD-WAN allows enterprises to securely connect devices from a variety of sources. This is huge for organizations that need to be sure they can safely connect a wide range of edge devices all over the world.
Furthermore, it’s wise to consider the benefits of managed IT security services when implementing SD-WAN, or other methods for connecting edge devices. The world is in a state of flux when it comes to technology. Having an extra team of eyes monitoring your network is one of the best ways to ensure its ongoing security.
There’s one thing that’s undeniable through all of this: Enterprise IT departments are going to need to be agile and ready to react to the evolving threats of today. If these things aren’t done, organizations are going to adopt technology at a faster rate than they can secure it. The results of this could result in catastrophe for enterprises and their most important data. It could also mean that hackers could gain control of unsecured edge devices, which would be disastrous.
No matter the industry, edge devices are likely to play a role in it going forward. It’s important enterprise IT team prepare for this coming change starting right now.