Exclusive: How can IT teams overcome edge computing challenges?

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Interest in edge computing is growing across the Middle East as organisations seek to improve productivity gains, data insights and application speeds. Edge computing is an architectural concept for distributed computing in which data is processed and stored at the edge of a network, outside a central location or data centre, close to where people and devices are generating or using information.

The Middle East and Africa edge computing market is expected to reach US$1.46 Bn by 2023, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33%.

By the end of 2022, it’s estimated that 90% of enterprises will employ edge computing, shifting information processing and content collection closer to the sources and users of that information. Edge computing allows enterprises to process, analyse, filter and store data close to the source to act on the data faster.

As businesses have been forced to expand services and rely more heavily on the edge, attackers have increased the magnitude and extent of their attacks. Attackers launched 5.4 million distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in the first half of 2021, up 11% over the same period the previous year. It’s no surprise, then, that enterprise IT and security teams who rely on the edge are concerned about security. In a study of 268 IT executives, 55% said edge devices were not created with security in mind and 69% said edge computing has either had or will impact network security.

The biggest concerns are the expanded attack surface and greater exposure to threats like DDoS campaigns, data theft and intrusions into the enterprise network. When asked to identify the most critical technology investment to address changes the pandemic has wrought, almost half of CIOs chose security and privacy (47%), followed by customer experience and engagement at 44%.

To better understand the security and service assurance challenges the edge presents, it’s helpful to consider two challenges that IT teams must overcome for successful edge deployments: controlling tool sprawl and achieving multi-cloud visibility.

Challenge 1: Controlling tool sprawl

According to a recent survey of 14,000 information security professionals, 66% are concerned about their organisations’ ability to monitor the addition of different security technologies adequately. That’s hardly surprising given that today’s average IT and security team employs between 10 and 30 security monitoring solutions for apps, network infrastructures and cloud environments.

Meanwhile, nearly a third of CIOs believe it’s challenging to gain a complete picture of network security since networking and security teams utilise different technologies and reports. Tool sprawl does cause a slew of issues, including the following:

· It multiplies the work required for analysing and commissioning data

· It creates limitations on the infrastructure to accommodate new solutions

· It introduces potential network conflicts

· It creates collaborative inefficiencies with disparate and often conflicting data from multiple tools

To overcome tool sprawl, both security and networking teams must modify their thinking and processes and interact in areas like threat detection and response.

Challenge 2: Achieving multi-cloud visibility

Multi-cloud setups, in which more than one cloud platform is used to supply or support one or more corporate services, are becoming increasingly important to businesses. These deployments can include public, private and hybrid cloud services, which increase application availability and reliability. The edge Internet of Things (IoT) is currently the most popular use case for multi-cloud installations.

It’s easy to see how splicing diverse solutions across various clouds leads to security and connectivity issues. Edge deployments, in particular, suffer when enterprise teams attempt to manage apps across different edge sites.

To achieve multi-cloud visibility, network and security teams must have visibility across all clouds to effectively detect and respond to security problems. This necessitates solutions that go beyond raw data gathering and storage to incorporate network data processing, indexing and enrichment.

As more action is moved to the edge, CIOs and CISOs need to ensure their teams understand the challenges of securing the edge while also ensuring that end user experience doesn’t suffer from the policies and procedures put into place to do so.

The call for better collaboration, communication and consistency between security and IT teams is not new. Now more than ever, it’s vital for security and network operations teams to have consistent goals, unified processes and interoperable technologies that protect the network while maintaining network uptime and performance for business operations. Doing so reduces costs through shared instrumentation, training and operational efficiencies.

edge computing
Emad Fahmy

By Emad Fahmy, Systems Engineering Manager, Middle East, NETSCOUT

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