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A person in a suit taps a glowing edge computing ecosystem with many network connections and glowing icons of edge computing concepts
Edge computing allows companies with highly distributed networks to efficiently process data from remote devices like Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and automated industrial systems. Teams deploy computing resources and data handling applications closer to data sources at the network’s edges, eliminating transmission latency and preventing data from leaving the local security perimeter. The current edge computing ecosystem consists mainly of solutions designed around individual use cases that lack interoperability with each other or a centralized management platform. That means most organizations end up with a disjointed edge computing architecture without any organized strategy.

According to Gartner, companies that deploy edge computing non-strategically are less efficient and lack the agility and scalability to meet their digital transformation goals. This post discusses the challenges created by a fragmented edge computing market before providing edge computing ecosystem design best practices to overcome these hurdles.

Edge computing ecosystem challenges

Most edge computing vendors offer products designed around a single use case or workload, such as analyzing machine logs to provide predictive maintenance recommendations for a specialized robotic manufacturing arm. These solutions don’t interoperate with each other or integrate with centralized orchestration platforms from other vendors, so each one is managed independently, often by the individual departments that use them. This fragmented architecture creates three major problems that prevent organizations from operating securely and efficiently: shadow IT, edge sprawl, and a lack of edge resilience.

Edge Computing Ecosystem Challenges

Shadow IT

Shadow IT occurs when individual departments or users purchase technology solutions without the knowledge, approval, or support of IT. Shadow IT is dangerous because these solutions aren’t onboarded with security controls and monitoring tools, so they are vulnerable to cybercriminals. Organizations also might purchase edge computing solutions with overlapping capabilities without realizing it, needlessly increasing operational costs.

Edge Sprawl

Edge sprawl occurs when there are so many different edge computing solutions that an organization can’t effectively manage them all. Teams often struggle to stay on top of patch schedules, leaving vulnerabilities in edge devices critically exposed. They also lack the ability to monitor and optimize performance, reducing the efficiency of edge computing operations. 

Poor Resilience

Edge computing deployments typically lack the climate control, physical security, and technical oversight of centralized data centers, increasing the likelihood of environmental issues and limiting IT’s ability to respond to them. Complex edge deployments are also at high risk of human error, and network outages prevent remote teams from quickly troubleshooting and recovering.

Gartner’s best practices for overcoming these challenges is a vendor-neutral edge management and orchestration (EMO) platform that unifies edge computing solutions and gives teams a complete, 360-degree overview of edge operations. This EMO should use out-of-band (OOB) management technology to ensure 24/7 accessibility during production network outages and breaches. Additionally, the platform should integrate with edge automation solutions like zero-touch provisioning and AIOps to improve efficiency and reduce the risk of human error.
A diagram showing how to use ZPE to follow Gartner’s best practices for an isolated management infrastructure.
Additionally, exposed management interfaces represent a major threat to edge resilience because attackers who breach the network could take complete control over infrastructure and “crown jewels” assets. Gartner’s recommendation is to move management interfaces to an isolated management infrastructure (IMI) that’s completely separate from the production network. Download our blueprint to learn more.

Edge computing ecosystem design with Nodegrid

The Nodegrid solution from ZPE Systems helps organizations overcome their biggest edge computing challenges with a unified, vendor-neutral platform. With compact, all-in-one edge networking solutions like the Bold SR, you can consolidate your edge infrastructure for streamlined, cost-effective deployments. For challenging outdoor or mobile deployments, the Mini SR delivers networking, automation, and OOB in a smartphone-sized device that fits anywhere.

Nodegrid’s vendor-neutral, out-of-band management platform gives teams a lifeline to monitor, troubleshoot, and recover edge infrastructure during cyber attacks and outages, improving edge resilience and reducing business disruption. Plus, our environmental sensors provide crucial data about temperature, humidity, and other conditions so teams can proactively address issues before a failure occurs.

Nodegrid’s management platform, available as an on-premises or cloud-based application, unifies all your edge computing solutions under one roof. Teams can view monitoring dashboards, deploy patches, perform device maintenance, orchestrate automated workflows, and more from one centralized, vendor-neutral portal.

Maximize edge computing efficiency, security, and resilience

Using the Nodegrid edge management and orchestration platform as the foundation for your edge computing ecosystem design helps maximize the efficiency, security, and resilience of edge deployments. Contact ZPE Systems to learn more.

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