Ever since the introduction of software as a service (SaaS), it has spearheaded the race in innovation of on-demand software deployment across the globe. The flexibility it provides, and the ease of integration made possible by its cloud computing architecture, has caused it to be the standard for the delivery of business applications.
In a SaaS model, the trifecta of an optimal user experience involves seamless setup, low latency, and high security. With the arrival of content delivery networks and its widespread geographical distribution of data centers, it was possible to reduce the distance between the server and the user, thereby reducing latency and improving application performance.
With an increase in the demand for enterprise-level scaling of applications, organizations need to ensure that their infrastructure supports the applications and workloads on-premises. To keep up with the scalability demand, IT ecosystems have evolved from a simple combination of network components to a highly complex architecture involving communication modules, cloud infrastructure, distributed systems, and a lot more. This complex architecture restricts connectivity and accessibility into customer environments, and this restriction is one of the primary barriers to delivering an optimal user experience. Increased latency, slow bandwidth speed, difficulty in scaling remote infrastructures, and integration issues among others, demands a networking architecture that delivers the best cloud-deployed services without any compromise in quality of services.
Before discussing edge networking in depth, let's learn about the reason behind this architecture. A network core is the main infrastructure that hosts all the components within a network, including those that provide services to the nodes at the endpoint. The network edge refers to the area where the local network interfaces with the internet and is in effect, the entry point to the network.
Edge network management involves moving the business-critical components just beyond the network core, and onto the networking edge of the infrastructure. The primary purpose of edge networking is the successful distribution or routing of application workloads to make applications more resilient and the organizations less dependent on the data centers. This split networking architecture as implemented in edge networking enables efficient real-time application operations, and optimizing the delivery of digital resources.
This network edge acts as a critical security boundary, and it is crucial that the network administrators deploy effective solutions for its upkeep and maintenance.
Although edge networking and edge computing are internally linked, and the terms are often used synonymously, they are fundamentally different. Modern IT infrastructures are set up in a way that allows applications and data to be processed in private data centers, public clouds, or a combination of both (referred to as hybrid clouds). While edge computing aims to supervise the operations of the network that happen away from the core, edge networking focuses on the routing architecture used to direct the flow of traffic away form the core, and optimizing that architecture to support edge computing.
When implemented correctly, edge networking and edge computing complement each other, resulting in more efficient performance for today's increasingly complex network operations. Organizations achieve fast and reliable services for end users by deploying redundant, secure, and optimized applications hosted on a dedicated network edge platform.
Edge networking addresses many of the connectivity-induced challenges faced in the hybrid-cloud architecture of SaaS. Some of its key benefits include:
Devices that sit on the network edge and control the entry into the network, range from simple routers, modems, switches, and IoT devices, to more complex components like integrated access devices, network access devices, wireless access points, multiplexers, and other devices. Effective and efficient access to data and applications is made possible by hosting the resources on the edge itself. This architecture reduces latency, increases throughput, and ensures reliability of the deployed application systems.
Other features of edge networking include:
Post COVID-19, there has been a shift in the global landscape of business operations. With more organizations going digital, the demand and requirement of IT infrastructures is predicted to grow proportionally. Gartner has predicted a jump in the number of global IoT devices from 8 billion to more than 15 billion devices by the end of 2029. Cisco, together with Omdia, has estimated an annual growth of 10.3% compound annual growth rate in the net market value of edge networking components, which is projected to reach more than $3 billion by 2025.
Edge networking promises massive advantages in terms of data storage, data processing, and network optimization. A global standard for content and application delivery, edge networking takes a distributed approach of network operations management. Legacy data centers and conventional networking architectures could be obsolete in the coming decades, as more enterprises rely on software-defined networks and adopt the cloud computing architecture for seamless service delivery and business operations.
However, no technology is totally fail-proof and edge networks are no exception. Networks, regardless of their architecture and implementation, face threats of unavailability and downtime. A study by Kaspersky reveals that the presence of multiple entry points poses the greatest vulnerability within an edge network. The risk of cyberattacks requires you to safeguard the edge with security systems that operate on a Zero Trust policy (for example, firewalls, VPNs, and Multiprotocol Label Switching). All these components, together with the servers, routers, switches, access points, access devices, and others need to be monitored and managed continually. This increase in the number of edge networking components calls for the comprehensive management of these devices through integrated network monitoring solutions.
With an increasing alignment towards edge networking, you need robust edge network solutions which can help you monitor and manage such complex architecture. ManageEngine OpManager Plus is an edge network management tool packed with out-of-the-box capabilities for monitoring networks, managing bandwidth and network configurations, analyzing firewall rules, logs, and policies, and tracking application performance and usage. It serves as an integrated network edge solution for system and application observability across your entire enterprise network edge, with features that extend to:
A network edge is a concept of network architecture that aims to move computation away from core funtionality devices so as to improve speed, efficieny and reliability of application/service delivery at the client end. The network edge is where your internal enterprise network meets the internet. As such, it is the entry point to the network.
The very concept of networking on the edge, is to bring data processing closer to the user, aiding in efficient real-time application operations and optimized delivery of digital resources, thereby improving user expereince. Compared to conventional network architectures, this architecture delivers clear advantages like reduced latency, increased throughput, and guaranteed reliability of the deployed application systems.
To achieve its idea of enhancing user experience by improving connectivity, efficiency and reliability, an edge network architecture splits the network into two areas; the core, where all the data is housed, and the edge, where user-specific requests and data are processed. In this split architecture, the edge takes care of all computational operations related to application/service delivery to the user whereas the network core is contacted only for data access or critical functionality. Since the entirety of network traffic is not routed to the core, but mostly processed at the edge, this architecture improves network operations by keeping a check on the bandwidth strain, improving overall network efficiency.