The amount of data at the Edge is already a challenge for IT leaders. Yet it’s becoming even more of a problem for managers of IT infrastructure as data levels expand exponentially.
Indeed, the overwhelming edge computing trend is expansion of data levels. IDC predicts that by 2025 there will be a total of 55.7 billion IoT (Internet of Things) devices, generating 73.1 zettabytes (ZB) of data worldwide. IDC projects that worldwide Edge revenues will grow to $250.6 billion in 2024, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.5% during that period.
As a result, businesses around the world will “feel the burn” of uncontrolled data transfers to the Cloud and the core data centers this year. Clearly, distributed data generated at the Edge cannot – and should not – be sent to a corporate headquarters for storing and processing. There’s simply too much of it. Now data management must extend to the Edge.
Decisions must be made about where, and how, to store and manage all that data. Considerations include a strategy about managing data from multiple data silos: IT data, operational data, network data and sensor-based IoT data. Plus, the data-types vary, by applications – including block data, file data and object data – with a variety of data that reflects changing computing technologies from the 1960s to the 2020s.
Adding to the challenge, there are myriad edge data categories – and some companies have more than one. They include:
- Enterprise Edge: bank branches, retail stores
- Industrial Edge: factories, automated equipment, robots
- Smart City Edge: self-driving vehicles, in-the-road embedded sensors
- Telco Edge: telecom equipment, 5G data, cell towers
- Tactical Edge: military, cybersecurity defense, ruggedized system uses
Let’s take a look at how we can best manage the explosive growth of data from edge computing.
Manage Edge Data with Multiple Partners
The Edge is not a cookie-cutter, repeatable landscape for data storage and data management. That’s another challenge for IT and business leaders planning their 2022 data strategy.
Because the data-management challenge is so complex, multiple partners will be needed to get the job done. Furthermore, leveraging these providers to assist with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will support automated data discovery and software updates. Manual methods will not be fast enough to keep up with the sheer scale of Edge data changes.
We can see that CSPs and ISVs are already forming more partnerships to address end-to-end data management that extend to Edge locations. Notable partnerships include:
- IBM and Cloudera (IBM Cloud Pak software with Cloudera CDP)
- Equinix and Microsoft Azure
- AWS Outposts and VMware
- Google Distributed Cloud (Anthos) with HPE and NetApp storage
- HPE GreenLake and VMware
Data security and data protection must take place – at multiple tiers of the on-premises infrastructure – and must now extend to the Cloud and the Edge. Not a simple task. For most companies, scaling up data-management requires an end-to-end cohesive strategy, along with a set of consistent best practices, consistent security software deployments and consistent data policies. Without smart management and advanced software tools, distributing data to multiple clouds and all Edge sites would be chaotic.
Simplify Edge Data For Better Management
Data simplification at the Edge is key to avoiding data logjams that would slow down the network. When data transfers are slow – and data-transfers are large – the traffic snarls caused by network “latency” slow the pace of business considerably. That’s why data simplification, and local analytics of Edge data, is critical to good outcomes for data-management at the Edge.
Inventory the data. The first step is data discovery, making sure that all the data silos associated with different types of Edge use are inventoried, and understood, and made available for corporate tracking/monitoring and data management.
Given the spectrum of Edge data scenarios, IT alone cannot do everything for every piece of data – no matter where it lives, including data-at rest, data-in-flight and data being processed. Fortunately, IT organizations have many options for scaling up their ability to do data management at the Edge.
Get unified visibility. IT needs to be in-control, with software tools that can, together, provide unified visibility to data throughout the organization. To do so, they’ll need to have a unified dashboard to show data-monitoring logs across Edge locations – and a customer security “key” that preserves data privacy for remote data – and data traveling to and from the Edge. Many of these security keys are, in fact, “private” keys controlled by the IT customers, rather than software vendors, to ensure end-customer control and enforcement of corporate data-privacy policies.
Also see: Will Edge Computing Devour the Cloud?
Scaling Up Data Management: Security, Protection, Management
Rapid edge data growth is giving rise to a new wave of data-management challenges that IT organizations need to address now. That’s why data simplification, data analytics, data management, data security and data protection at the Edge are going to be so important in 2022.
These criteria were voiced by Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger in a year-end video sent to Intel employees, saying of the Edge, “the top requirements are AI, low-latency, security.” He also acknowledged the emergence of zettascale computing and zettabytes of data in the 2020s.
So, here are three core areas for IT managers to consider for global Edge data management:
Data Security at the Edge. In the Edge, there is no traditional security “perimeter” to protect, challenging IT to find new ways to secure remote data. End-to-end security, enforced by data encryption, protects against attacks – cybersecurity and ransomware attacks – that brought some companies to a stand-still in 2021. If data security is breached, it may take hours or days for data to be restored – and business continuity to be achieved.
Data Protection at the Edge. There is a mind-set for consistent data protection, requiring an over-arching strategy and a solid implementation to protect data from the Core to the Cloud to the Edge of the network. IT managers will have to ensure careful data monitoring for Edge locations and have multiple scenarios for replicating business-critical data – and envision multiple paths for data to be recovered, if needed.
Data Management Strategies for the Edge. To extend an organization’s management of distributed data, reaching into the Edge, hybrid clouds, multi-clouds and Core locations, IT managers will see many data management software offered by a range of vendors. The specific features will be different, but it’s the IT strategy that matters most when building a data-management plan for the organization. Increasingly, organizations are looking to work with partners in the co-lo and CSP spaces, to extend their reach – and to become more efficient at data management. This is especially true for SMBs with limited IT resources at Edge locations.
IT’s To-Do List Expands for Edge Management
So, let’s take the long view of where the rapid rise of distributed data is leading us – and how IT leaders can cope with fast-growing data resources at the Edge.
IT leaders must communicate with business leaders. We all have the point-products we need to create the next-generation of our corporate data infrastructure. It’s critical that business leaders and IT leaders will be on the same page – so that major initiatives can be funded in a timely manner, to keep up with our organization’s rapid data growth in 2022. We should do this with an eye to checking the boxes for compliance with data-privacy regulations, across geographies (e.g., GDPR in the European Union and CCPA in California).
“Mind the gaps” in data infrastructure. Look for gaps in your end-to-end data management strategy – and address them, one by one. Speak with business units, data scientists and end-users throughout your organization to identify aspects of distributed data management that simply aren’t working well right now. They will know where gaps are hurting their ability to track data quality – and to analyze the growth of your business.
IT leaders must create a unified strategy. Shop for partners to help with data discovery, data security, data protection and data management. Look to multiple data partners – including software vendors, cloud providers, co-lo operators, telecoms companies and services companies. Their solutions are already useful – as currently implemented – but it’s up to IT leaders to pull together a unified, consistent strategy for data expansion, data management and data security.
What’s Next for Managing Edge Data?
There’s no time to waste. IT managers cannot afford to wait until Q2 to map out its 2022 data-management moves; they must do so now.
Those data-planning meetings – whether virtual or in-person – need to happen right away. Managers should identify all the data that should be logged and monitored at the Edge, and they should gather and analyze all the metadata – the data about the data – to build a more unified, cohesive, and consistent plan for managing the entire corporate data portfolio from end to end.