In the year 2019, businesses are realizing the advantages of edge computing and moving their applications closer to the source of data. Organizations are moving edge applications for video surveillance, industrial IoT, smart mobility and smart cities from pilot to production. Each application performs mission-critical tasks, and any downtime of an edge computing site or application will be detrimental. Careful planning is essential before moving an application from pilot to production.
Here are the top five elements to keep in mind while moving edge applications from pilot to production:
- Scalability of the distributed system
Edge computing is all about distributing compute close to the source of data. For example, if a smart video surveillance computing device is installed on every site, which houses 4 to 40 cameras, this will distribute a large number of devices geographically across multiple sites. Unless your management systems and back-end infrastructure are built to handle this scaled setup, then your deployments will fail. Proper planning to handle distributed and scaled edge computing is a must to start production.
- Performance management
With high chances of downtime at edge computing sites, the ability to get complete control of the infrastructure and application becomes critical. Consider unmanned automated retail stores. Failure in applications can cause significant business revenue loss. Until the systems are back, up and running, no transactions can take place. Effective application and infrastructure performance management tools can identify bottlenecks and get to the root cause of the application problems in a complex and chaotic edge computing environment. Applications can fail due to compute and network infrastructure failure, software bugs and peripheral device failures, including sensors, cameras and controllers. Applications can also underperform due to resource constraints in edge devices. Application failure or underperformance can render business technology useless. You should not move your applications from pilot to production without proper performance management mechanisms.
- Remote management
Consider smart parking management mechanisms deployed at multiple sites across the country. Any failure in application, system or infrastructure might need a technician dispatched to the site to fix the problem. This can be a big burden on business operation expenditure and cause revenue loss. To avoid this, edge computing applications and management mechanisms must be built with secure remote access.
- Over-the-air or firmware upgrades
Over-the-air firmware and application upgrade problems have already been solved, but they are an essential ingredient in edge computing technology and need a fresh look. Business agility requirements push for more frequent application upgrades. New learning algorithms for machine learning and AI applications call for upgrades. Firmware upgrades — file system and kernel-level — are also essential to plug security vulnerabilities. Kernel upgrades might be needed to address critical bugs in scheduler and drivers.
Security is undoubtedly the most attention-seeking element in edge computing technology. With the distributed nature of edge computing applications, threat actors get a bigger attack surface, increasing the vulnerability. It is essential for organizations to choose the right security audit of the operating system and applications to identify vulnerabilities before deployment. Security cannot be an afterthought; it has to blend in every aspect of the design, from application to infrastructure. IT pros can better understand and identify security vulnerabilities with better visibility of edge computing infrastructure and applications.
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