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Winning At The Business Edge: Traditional Approaches To Infrastructure Just Won't Do

October 5, 2018
Borderless Leadership

The topic of “edge IT” has become an area of intense focus for business leaders and data-driven organizations. This is for good reason, as the perimeter of the network has become a critical gateway for data collection and processing. The edge today is now used to describe many different types of remote office and branch office sites– from IoT sensors collecting critical information at a wind farm, to robots on manufacturing plant floors, and even to deployed military missions. While these edge types are different, they’re similar because they serve as the data entry point for the organization. To put it simply, the edge is where business happens.

Modernizing the edge for businesses has become an easy and cost effective reality with Riverbed SteelFusion, the only software-defined edge solution that delivers local performance while enabling data convergence, instant provisioning/recovery and lower TCO for distributed organizations. Deploying solutions, like SteelFusion, is essential to digital transformation, as technology initiatives have introduced a greater complexity for IT to control. How can organizations eliminate the complexity and security issues inherent with traditional approaches, while positively impacting the business?

Minimize Infrastructure

The edge has become a critical gateway for data collection and application performance. The growth of remote offices and the explosion in the number of edge access points challenge the capabilities of traditional infrastructures. IT organizations are tasked with maintaining too many office locations. The inefficient nature of traditional infrastructures that require IT expertise to maintain makes them a cost-prohibitive choice to perform the management functions needed to support modern edge business. Modern organizations hoping to digitize for competitiveness must consider minimizing edge infrastructure to eliminate management challenges that can scale and support a diverse edge surface.

Reduce Operational Complexity

Today, change is necessary for businesses to stay competitive. The way centralized IT experts respond to change, where business is happening, can impact the fate of an organization. For example, bringing new sites online to quickly generate revenue or to execute an operation quickly at 200 global sites can save hundreds of millions for the affected business. The ability to react to change is also reflected in the speed to business continuity after an outage. The dilemma lies with the limited, and the expert resources needed to support growing numbers of technology challenges at the edge. This makes managing edge and remote locations tricky and cost-ineffective. To reduce operational complexity, not only should enterprises seek out minimized edge technologies, but software-defined edge technology that can be managed by centralized IT experts. Moving toward a more centralized management structure that also takes acceleration over distance into consideration can help eliminate difficulty associated with edge management and foster a more agile and speedy response when a business needs change.

Protect the Data

For organizations, the edge is a dynamic element of the network with unique challenges pertaining to data security. With today’s requirements to comply with industry regulations, and the large amount of data being generated, the vulnerability of edge data should be viewed as table stakes.  A threat at the edge can hinder business continuity and cause massive data loss that can be catastrophic to a business. While traditional remote backups provide some protection, they are far from fail proof, and only add to the operational complexity faced by IT. Centralizing data puts IT in the driver’s seat, giving them the peace of mind that all intellectual property is stored and managed centrally at the data center. The data center is ideally equipped with a higher-grade infrastructure, enterprise management tools, trained IT staff, and stronger security capabilities.

Remove Backup and Make Availability a Primary Objective

None of the discussed guidance will mean anything in the event of failure at the edge. One of the essential responsibilities of IT is ensuring business continuity and making sure that application availability and data integrity are maintained in the event of an outage. This can be difficult for traditional infrastructure approaches as a more distributed edge. This challenge becomes much more acute as the pace and volumes of data that are collected at the edge rapidly increases. For many organizations relying on a less dynamic infrastructure, this data collected at the edge cannot backup during defined backup windows, because networks are congested and slow. The resiliency of the network to withstand an outage and then have a fast path to recovery needs to be the core capabilities of any edge infrastructure solution set to take on the digital age. Infrastructure must be flexible and resilient to support new challenges and technologies, and should help businesses leverage its own information to maintain a competitive position in the market. Today’s organizations must seek to have it all: operational agility, data protection and application performance, all at the lowest possible cost of doing business.

The tips mentioned in this article are just a few of the specific things business leaders should consider when designing and deploying remote infrastructure not only to maximize business agility, but to also have the flexibility, security, and application performance to adapt to a rapidly changing future.

By: Paul O’Farrell

Source: Forbes

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