Edge computing opens organizations up to some security risks, but they can be mitigated with proper planning.
With the explosive growth of IoT devices and the accompanying deluge of data, businesses are under more pressure than ever to find ways to decrease latency and improve performance. This is why edge computing, the technology that brings computation and data storage closer to the devices that generate the data, continues to grow in popularity.
According to a recent study by Research and Markets, the global edge computing market is expected to grow from $11.24 billion in 2022 to $155.9 billion by 2030, at a compound annual growth rate of 38.9%.
SEE: Don’t curb your enthusiasm: Trends and challenges in edge computing (TechRepublic)
But as with any new technology, there are risks inherent in adopting edge computing.
The risks of edge computing
Security issues around the edge
One of the most significant risks of edge computing is security. Adopters are aware of this, as demonstrated in a recent AT&T survey that sampled 1,500 companies. The survey found that companies expect to spend between 11% and 20% of their edge investment on security.
Security is a major risk for several reasons:
- Data processed outside the traditional corporate firewall is more vulnerable to attack.
- Edge devices are often deployed in uncontrolled environments, so they can be subject to physical tampering or damage.
- With more and more devices storing data at the network edge, virtual security risks are also increasing: For example, deploying hundreds of edge computing devices creates a larger attack surface and opens the door for security breaches such as DDoS attacks.
- Identifying and deploying edge devices also creates new challenges for security teams. Edge devices are often distributed across a wide geographic area, making it difficult to secure them all physically. Since edge devices are often connected to other devices and systems, they can provide attackers with a way to gain access to an organization’s network if they are not adequately secured.
Consequently, proper physical, network and cloud security measures such as Secure Access Service Edge must be in place to protect data processed at the edge. Otherwise, the risk of a security breach will outweigh the benefits of deploying edge computing.
The cost of edge computing
Cost is one of the primary considerations when assessing the viability of edge computing. While the potential benefits of deploying an edge network are significant, the costs associated with managing and maintaining an edge environment can quickly become prohibitive. This is especially true if the edge deployment is not carefully planned, executed and managed. For example, as new IoT endpoints proliferate, managing them effectively from a centralized location can become increasingly complex.
In addition, because edge computing requires hardware and software, businesses must carefully consider the total cost of ownership before deploying an edge solution. The hardware cost can be significant because companies often need to purchase new devices or upgrade existing ones to support edge computing. For example, enterprises may need to buy new routers, switches and servers to support an edge deployment. In addition, they may need to upgrade their network infrastructure and bandwidth to accommodate the increased traffic generated by edge devices.
The software cost can also be high because businesses often need to purchase or develop new applications specifically for edge devices. These applications must be able to operate in a distributed environment, manage the data generated by edge devices and integrate with the rest of the organization’s IT infrastructure.
One way to help control costs is to partner with a managed services provider that offers comprehensive support for edge deployments. This can help ensure that the deployment is successful and that any cost issues that arise are quickly resolved.
The sheer scale of data
The sheer scale of data generated by edge devices can also pose a challenge for businesses. Edge devices generate large amounts of data, which must be stored, processed and analyzed. As a result, businesses need to have the infrastructure in place to support this data growth and be able to manage and utilize the data effectively. Companies unprepared for this influx of data may find themselves overwhelmed, with little visibility into what is happening at the edge of their network.
Fitting edge components into existing network architectures
Another challenge that businesses face when deploying edge computing is fitting the new edge components into their existing legacy network architectures. Edge devices are often deployed in remote locations, and they need to be able to communicate with the rest of the organization’s IT infrastructure. This can be a challenge because many existing network architectures were not designed to accommodate edge devices. As a result, businesses may need to make significant changes to their network architecture or purchase new networking equipment to support an edge deployment.
Edge computing is growing in popularity as more and more businesses are looking to take advantage of its benefits despite the risks. While these risks can seem daunting, they can be effectively mitigated by taking a careful and considered approach to deployment.