Edge computing: a balance between risks and benefits

Edge computing may be a relatively new term in technology, but it didn’t take long for businesses to realize the benefits of locating their compute and storage resources close to the user or source of data. data. By processing information where applications are running without having to return to a data center miles away, software works faster and can therefore do more.

About the Author

Lucy Kerner is Director of Global Security Strategy and Evangelism at Red Hat.

The difference is especially noticeable for businesses where every millisecond counts, such as high-frequency financial transactions, automated vehicles, and equipment security monitoring. But it’s also very attractive in contexts where latency isn’t critical, like content streaming, manufacturing, and smart utilities, because today’s users expect near-instantaneous reaction times and exuberance from capabilities of their applications.

In a recent survey of 1,470 IT professionals, Red Hat found that 72% of respondents ranked the combination of the Internet of Things and edge computing as a priority emerging technology workload over the of the next 12 months. The range of applications for edge devices is vast, whether it’s IoT sensors, internet routers, wearables or factory robots. By 2022, there will be around 55 billion peripheral devices on the market, and by 2025 that figure is expected to reach at least 150 billion.

However, the obvious benefits of edge computing must be weighed against the perceived risks. Historically, cybersecurity for enterprises has been about centralizing operations, which means that for some, the distributed nature of the edge seems like a riskier choice. Having more devices can increase the attack surface, and since edge devices need to be able to send information to and from their data centers, there are possible connections that could be exploited.

Holistic cutting-edge strategy

The solution is to approach security as part of a holistic edge strategy, not in opposition to it. Teams that build security into their architecture from the start can have the edge serving as an extension of their environment, as secure and resilient as the core. In this way, security is an enabler, not an afterthought.

A key consideration is to have consistency between the systems you run at the edge and the network that ties them together to your central systems. Standard security protocols and processes enable repeatability, making management and security easier. However, the best edge devices tend to be designed for a very specific task and involve multiple software and hardware vendors. This seems to go against normalization.

This is where the hybrid cloud comes in. Hybrid cloud is a strategy that connects private infrastructure and public cloud (or multiple public clouds from different vendors). This gives organizations the flexibility to use the environment that will best suit a given workload at a given time, and can serve as a common foundation upon which to build an edge stack as an extension of the core infrastructure. With a unifying platform underpinning the hybrid cloud, you can scale using containers and Kubernetes, while achieving consistency of security settings down to the edge, with built-in security – from system security to and platform, data security, identity and access management, application security, etc.


When it comes to network security, enterprises are increasingly using third-party SD-WAN (Software Defined Wide Area Network) technology to manage their network expansion. It’s a good idea to consider using MSSP (Managed Security Service Provider) experts for network security, as they offer increasingly sophisticated SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) solutions. SASE addresses edge security at scale by integrating SD-WAN and security into a cloud service in partnership with security vendors. It gives security teams visibility across their entire network through a single window. Security policies, threat prevention and security remediation can be defined, monitored and executed centrally and globally.

A consistent automation strategy across the organization is important to embed security into processes, applications, and infrastructure from the start in a repeatable way. As with any IT automation journey, approach security automation in phases with defined goals for each phase. Many companies start by automating tasks that are performed repeatedly: configuration management, patches, identification and remediation of security vulnerabilities, policy enforcement, etc. Security and compliance automation for application development, infrastructure operations, and security operations is a fundamental step toward comprehensive DevSecOps, allowing you to implement continuous security and compliance with the ‘automating.

More broadly, it pays to bring security out into the open. Security teams are traditionally siled. However, now that developers are increasingly in control of the application development lifecycle, security can no longer be the sole responsibility of security teams. Responsibility should be distributed throughout the company – you should treat safety as a team sport.

With consistency across the entire network, the edge is an integral part of the core security strategy. By addressing both secure hybrid cloud and secure network as parallel priorities and choosing partners for each who can work effectively together, organizations can exploit opportunities at the edge from afar.

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Sherry J. Basler