Many companies are beginning to champion the edge, and with good reason. And as more use cases emerge, edge computing will only become more important going forward.
There’s a lot of hype surrounding the edge and for good reason. As consumers and employees alike expect better and more reliable experiences, pushing content as close to users as possible represents a new frontier in providing a superior user experience. The intersection of the edge with trends such as serverless computing, network functions, AI, and machine learning will likely facilitate further innovation.
Even so, embracing edge technology is not an automatic win. You’ll need to have an effective plan to get the most out of your edge deployment and avoid common missteps. There are a few key strategies that are especially important to keep in mind. Following these suggestions can empower your organization to offer faster and more reliable experiences than ever before without needing to strain your backend infrastructure to make it happen.
1) Use Open Standards to Avoid Vendor Lock-In
As you begin to plan out the move to the edge, think carefully about the tools and standards you use to build edge web applications. If you rely solely on proprietary options tied to a specific provider, it will be hard to shift away from that provider even if they raise prices or no longer match your strategy.
2) Build for Flexibility on Serverless Architecture
Serverless architecture has become increasingly popular for building and deploying websites and applications at the edge, and it’s not hard to see why. Abstraction from the actual infrastructure makes it easy to focus on building the best application possible with high scalability and availability without needing to worry about the backend. Using pre-made templates, developers can set up edge applications in under a minute and then quickly collect and analyze traffic and engagement data directly from the edge to measure success.
It’s important to make sure that a serverless platform facilitates the process of running an application anywhere — whether that’s on the network edge, on an on-premise data center, or in the cloud. This requires support for multiple flavors of frameworks and also WebAssembly, and as long as this is the case, you can build your application once and have the ability to run it anywhere.
3) Rely on the Edge for Actionable Observability
A key part of getting the most from the edge is harnessing its power to allow real-time troubleshooting and actionable observability. Even the best-run websites and applications experience challenges and logistical hurdles. Knowing how to expedite troubleshooting and using data proactively for your edge applications will minimize performance issues and customer frustration, as well as enable a number of new use cases.
To start, setting up your applications on the edge allows you to obtain performance data in real time. You can send that data to a security information and event management (SIEM) service or any big data platform and derive actionable insights as quickly as possible. In the meantime, you can set up error pages that automatically detect progress towards issue resolution and update themselves accordingly. You can also implement user personalization directly at the edge to make the transition to customized web pages as smooth as possible.
4) Build Security on the Edge to Block Attacks at the Source
The edge represents the first point of contact between attackers and your applications — and if you build security functionality into your edge applications, you can block attacks right where they start. This spares your central infrastructure and team members from needing to stop attackers or deal with the fallout of a successful attack.
In terms of detecting attacks, the first step is identifying whether there are locations, ASNs, or IP addresses that are likely to harbor attacks. From there, firms can automatically detect them and then block them on the edge.
5) Choose Wisely What to Run at the Edge and in the Cloud
If a given application needs to provide a fast and reliable experience for users, serverless edge development should suffice. On the other hand, if a use case relies on aggregating large amounts of data from multiple sources to process and store, you should utilize the cloud. An example of this is if a retailer wants to aggregate and process a massive amount of user behavior data for high-level insights. The data can be collected, processed, and normalized at the edge and then sent to the cloud for storage, aggregation, and insight generation. If that retailer wants to make automated decisions based on data from within the store, the edge can handle this situation by itself.
Many companies are beginning to champion the edge, and with good reason. It can provide a way to build applications once and use them anywhere, automatically target content to each user, automate difficult troubleshooting processes, and block unwanted users without straining central infrastructure. There is still a role for cloud to play, particularly when it comes to “big data,” but it’s clear that, as more use cases emerge, edge will only become more important going forward.