Undoubtedly, cloud computing has firmly established its presence within the operational landscapes of numerous organizations and is poised to maintain its pivotal role in their technology frameworks for the foreseeable future. That said, it is imperative to recognize that Edge deployments present distinctive advantages and challenges compared to cloud-based solutions, particularly in security and manageability.
In response to these considerations, Intel has forged a strategic partnership with Spectro Cloud to develop and implement the Secure Edge-Native Architecture (SENA), a groundbreaking initiative to tackle these concerns effectively.
The Limitations of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing originated for companies to turn unused server capacity into a revenue stream. In the past few years, it's provided benefits like scalable storage and processing power, virtualized environments, and simplified security. As a result, companies have been able to focus on developing better solutions to more business problems.
As the cloud model of computing has matured, however, limitations have arisen:
- Speed - As the amount of data applications handle grows, centralized environments struggle to keep up due to infrastructure limitations. This challenge makes it harder for applications to provide the quick, actionable data users need to make timely decisions.
- Cost - The cost of the intensive data transmission required by newer applications rises exponentially at scale.
- Data Control - Data movement requires more control and oversight than ever for regulatory requirements, security, or international law.
Therefore, more and more organizations are being driven to create Edge-native solutions and platforms.
The Unique Challenges of the Edge
While the potential for Edge devices like smartphones and cameras is nearly limitless, the time and money required to transmit their data back to centralized sites can be prohibitive. Moving solutions and platforms to localized Edge sites makes sense.
However, computing at the Edge has its own set of inherent challenges. Edge solutions often face environmental challenges such as:
- Limited space like within closets, city lampposts, or other tight locations
- Harsh temperatures like extreme cold or baking sun
- Emergency response deployments
As a result of these challenges, Edge environments can be complex to manage and maintain. Each Edge node may require unique architecture based on its workload and power requirements. In addition, new dataflow architectures may arise as data moves between private and public clouds and even between nodes.
Also adding complexity for technology teams is the greater use of open-source ecosystems in Edge environments, which add multiple software layers that require maintenance. Since the number of Edge nodes can range from a handful to thousands, maintaining them may necessitate using non-technical people.
Ultimately, using Edge solutions, while offering many advantages, may also introduce risks like unauthorized access, system failure, and time-consuming maintenance.
The Push for Edge-Native Technology
Many approaches to hardware and software in the cloud do not apply to the Edge; therefore, an Edge-native approach is needed in multiple areas:
App Model - Edge-native nodes can be container or VM-based but are monolithic and stateless
Orchestration - Edge-native orchestration occurs across Edges in a hierarchal way versus horizontally in cloud-native architectures.
Elasticity - Elasticity is limited in Edge-native deployments versus the rapid spin-up and spin-down of the cloud.
Scaling - Whereas cloud-native architecture provides near-limitless scaling, Edge-native installations scale-out to the Edge or scale back to the cloud.
Resilience - Edge nodes are expected to fail, whereas cloud-native architecture is designed never to fail.
Data - Edge-native models rely on caching and streaming versus cloud-native ones that are centralized.
Hardware - Cloud-native hardware is highly abstracted and standardized, whereas Edge-native is often varied, location-aware devices in harsh environments with low abstraction.
Networking - Edge-native architectures operate at varied speeds to account for mobile and RAN connectivity, whereas cloud native relies on high-speed networks.
Management - Edge native requires remote centralized management with zero-touch provisioning for hardware and software, whereas cloud native is managed and automated centrally.
Security - Cloud-native security relies on trusted networks in secure facilities, whereas edge networks employ zero trust protocols in physically insecure locations.
Secure Edge-Native Architecture (SENA)
To address the security and management needs of the Edge head-on, Intel has partnered with Spectro Cloud and other companies.
SENA is a combination of multiple Intel technologies with multiple platforms from Spectro Cloud, including:
- Palette for Kubernetes management
- Kairos for open-source management
- And other security, provisioning, and lifecycle management solutions
For its part, Intel leverages several of its deep-root security features, including Intel Active Management Technology (Intel AMT), Intel Software Guard Extensions (Intel SGX), and Intel Smart Edge management software.
These solutions enable critical Edge management and security functions like:
- Zero-touch provisioning
- Localized Edge-scaling up to thousands of locations without a sacrifice in performance
- Zero-trust access and management with role-based access control (RBAC)
To Leverage Intel's Edge Technology and SENA, Look to UNICOM Engineering
Look to UNICOM Engineering to provide the proper expertise to support your latest Edge
deployment needs. In addition, our experts will ensure you have the computing power you require today in a design that scales to meet the needs of tomorrow. As an Intel Technology Provider and Dell Technologies Titanium OEM Partner, we can supply, build, and support the best solution to meet or exceed the needs of your application and help you bring it to market faster. Schedule a consultation today to learn how UNICOM Engineering can keep you moving forward.