Why the automated edge is the new frontier for business networks

By Paul Gampe, Chief Technology Officer, Console Connect.

  • 2 weeks ago Posted in

The constant rush to adopt new technologies can quickly have an adverse effect on business networks – hindering bandwidth, connectivity, and eventually their bottom line. To overcome this problem, forward-thinking companies are now embracing the network edge. But what exactly is the edge? And how can it improve your operations without compromising latency, performance, or security?

 

Understanding edge architecture

In general terms, the edge of a network is the boundary between your business network and the public internet. It’s the zone where traffic from the internet enters your private network and vice versa. This zone is of critical importance because it defines your network security boundary and is the first line of defence against threats from the public internet. This includes firewalls, routers, switches, sensors, and other access points that exist at the boundary of networks.

 

Your network edge exists wherever there is an edge device or ‘thing’ that facilitates traffic crossing from one network to another. These edge devices can include mobile phones, laptops, data centres, company offices, home routers, and all manner of emerging applications that will become more commonplace as more users make up the rise of ‘the internet of things’.

 

Of course, the sheer volume of data produced by these multiple devices can seriously hinder a company’s network infrastructure, which can only process so much data without problems arising with bandwidth and lag time.

 

That’s where edge networking comes in. This is a data management system that supplies digital resources to your users by merging edge devices with your business network to process and interpret data close to the source without the need for huge data centres.

 

Consequently, moving to the edge has become a key investment for businesses looking to deploy innovative technologies such as generative AI because they can now process data where it happens – at the boundary of edge devices – as opposed to in the cloud where latency and security issues abound. This not only helps to accelerate business decisions but also gathers valuable information at the point of origin to improve both product offerings and customer experiences.

 

What’s more, businesses can vastly reduce data transfers over external networks, minimising the threat of data breaches while maximising bandwidth usage, and ultimately improving customer outcomes.

 

Benefits and drawbacks

A well-configured edge network can significantly improve the performance of applications that are hosted in the cloud. By placing edge devices closer to the users of these cloud-based applications, the distance that data must travel is greatly reduced, which means lower latency.

 

By placing security controls closer to this cloud-hosted data, it also reduces the risk of your private network being compromised by outside attacks. Furthermore, a well-configured edge network can overcome congestion problems that might occur with devices and applications by rerouting traffic to the correct destinations and ensuring that your network is not overloaded.

 

Then there’s the cost savings. By deploying devices on the edge and thereby offloading the processing and storage requirements to the edge, businesses can reduce the costs they would typically incur to purchase from cloud providers.

That said, not all edge networks are created equal, and a poorly configured edge can turn all these benefits into disadvantages.

 

First and foremost are the security risks. Businesses need to make sure their edge is ultra-secure and can respond to threat incidents emerging from different devices or locations. Secondly, without the correct knowledge and training, your IT team may quickly be overwhelmed by having to manage the multitude of devices, locations, and applications that make up the edge.

 

A third challenge is the upfront cost. Implementing edge networking into your business can be expensive as it requires the purchase and deployment of suitable devices and systems that achieve the desired aims without sacrificing security.

 

Enter the automated edge

Unsurprisingly, the technology behind edge networking is evolving all the time, and a recent advancement is the automated edge. In simplified terms, the automated edge is intelligence that is embedded into edge devices which takes care of networking tasks like configuration, responsiveness, provisioning, and even monitoring all by itself.

 

As your daily operations shift and change, it will automatically optimise network performance by intelligently steering traffic through different pathways to reduce lag time and interruptions while providing greater reliability and security.

 

Best of all, the automated edge can work hand-in-glove with your generative AI models to improve connectivity and real-time decision making from different devices, locations, and applications. This not only accelerates the analysis of your data close to the source, but also speeds up customer interactions and provides further opportunities for growth and innovation.

 

Additionally, if your business relies heavily on low latency – which most businesses do – then your IT team will no longer have to constantly manage any blockages in your network and then figure out the best solution. The automated edge does it for you.

 

The simple solution to edge automation

The sheer complexity of the automated edge has led many companies to seek out partnerships with network-as-a-service providers to give them a fast, flexible, and competitive advantage. Network as a service, or NaaS for short, provides companies with an efficient end-to-end solution in the operational management and performance of their networks on a subscription basis.

 

The beauty of this business model is that removes all the complexity. A NaaS provider helps you to build your own private network on your own terms, one that can be scaled and configured to meet your needs. It also takes care of security issues and protects your network from attacks through constant monitoring and early detection.

 

But crucially, a tried and tested NaaS provider will have already embedded their platform with the latest automated edge capabilities to interact and interface with all manner of edge devices and applications. This not only allows you to deploy new technology tools safely and efficiently, but also frees up your IT team to concentrate on other mission-critical tasks.

 

As for network management, your business will have total visibility of your network infrastructure from a single user-friendly dashboard, allowing you switch-up performance and agility on demand. Meanwhile, all your network maintenance concerns are taken care of 24/7 by an expert team of engineers.

If businesses truly want to harness the potential of ‘the internet of things’, they must first consider moving to the edge. Indeed, by laying the foundational groundwork today for what is surely to come tomorrow, they can take full advantage of future advancements in network edge innovation.

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