The Balance Between Granular Control and Simplicity in Edge as a Service

February 23, 2021

Technology providers are increasingly demanding a more granular level of control across the full stack, including the desire to tailor their edge compute solution to their specific application needs. This same appetite for greater control, however, can concurrently lead to a challenging rise in complexity in terms of network selection, workload orchestration and infrastructure provisioning. Edge as a Service (EaaS) can help organizations overcome these complexities by offering a simple, managed approach to deploying and maintaining applications at the Edge.

The Type of Granular Control Possible at the Edge

Not all edge computing solutions are alike, but a modern Edge as a Service provider should enable greater granular control over your tech stack and edge computing requirements than a traditional cloud or CDN provider can offer. With the right Edge as a Service provider, you’ll also have the option to integrate edge into your multi-cloud strategy. A true cloud/edge deployment model can be incredibly valuable in optimizing performance and lowering latency, but the challenge of managing workload orchestration across hundreds or thousands of edge endpoints is real. Edge as a Service can remove the strain and resource gap problem by managing this for you.

Granular control at the edge becomes particularly complex in four key areas:

  1. Location Strategy - Getting the right workload to the right place at the right time
  2. Security & Compliance - Protecting assets across a distributed network
  3. Application Development Lifecycle - Efficient code management and deployment
  4. Observability - Consolidation of edge metrics

Location Strategy: Working with Today’s Internet Infrastructure

An effective edge presence revolves around the right location strategy. After all, the basic idea behind edge computing is placing workloads as close as possible to end users. Ensuring the appropriate geographic distribution of endpoints that make the most sense for your specific application is possible with the right EaaS provider.

At Section, we have built a very different type of network to traditional CDNs, allowing our users to access the full range of benefits from existing and emerging Internet infrastructure. We operate an OpEx model, allowing us to use flexible strategies and workflows to best meet the needs of each individual customer and maximize performance and cost savings for them. The Section global edge network is built on the foundations of providers such as AWS, GCP, Azure, Digital Ocean, Lumen, Equinix, and RackCorp, to name a few; we regularly add new hosting providers and can deploy points of presence (PoPs) on-demand to help customers define their own edge.

Geographic location is one of the factors behind our choice of PoP infrastructure. Others include connectivity, provider range, and the specific needs of our customers and their markets. The way that we deploy architecture enables flexibility for our users to select the networks that work for them and to host different file types on different hosting providers, including their own private networks, enabling performance optimization and cost efficiencies.

As a managed Edge as a Service provider, Section aims to simplify distributed computing, including location decisions, workload orchestration, and traffic routing. With the Adaptive Edge Engine (AEE) automatically maximizing performance and cost optimization, it’s rare that our customers need (or desire) the extra layer of direct control over locations. We built the AEE specifically to automate decision-making and orchestration, so that DevOps engineers don’t need to worry about this, and can trust that their workloads are running in the optimal locations to meet real-time traffic demands, allowing them to focus on outcomes, not configurations.

Simplifying Regulatory Compliance at the Edge

Another layer of complexity many DevOps teams and business executives are concerned about relates to regulation and compliance. We are living through a moment of significant change in regards to this. Increased regulatory requirements and compliance, such as PCI compliance and GDPR, are already underway, and greater regulation of the tech industry is imminent in the US, Europe and China. This is already leading to changed business models, and could dramatically alter the tech landscape in the years to come.

According to Louis Lehot, founder of L2 Counsel, “legal functions will need to keep pace to ensure compliance with existing and new regulations….We will want to make sure our companies are using providers that know how to protect the storage of intellectual property and avoid potential infringement.”

The Edge allows for DevOps teams to be more precise about where their data is processed and stored. With Section, for instance, you can spin up your own private edge network for your application, and leverage enterprise-grade security solutions for your data and applications. This lets you protect your applications against leaks or fraud while ensuring regulatory compliance.

Application Development Lifecycle

Every application is unique, and there is no one size fits all when it comes to application development lifecycle management across teams. Systems shouldn’t define workflows; rather, they should be flexible enough to adapt to different development environments and workflows.

In order for developers to harness the power of edge computing, edge configuration and deployment needs to have the same level of familiarity and standardization that has become commonplace with cloud deployments. This includes integration across existing code repositories, CI/CD pipelines, and edge deployment tooling.

Git-backed workflows allow developers to easily manage and integrate application code to speed up deployments. CLI tooling is another way to accelerate time to value with edge deployments. We recently released our own sectionctl CLI utility that helps bridge the gap between cloud and edge workflows with familiar tooling.

Observability: Consolidation of Edge Metrics

Software is becoming exponentially complex, and hence the challenges associated with maintaining observability across systems are becoming increasingly difficult. When you consider this in the context of edge platforms that are orchestrating workloads and traffic into and out of dynamic edge networks, you can imagine the amount of “unknown unknowns”.

With any system, developers need to be able to get to the information they need quickly and easily, and drill into granular detail to help them evaluate performance, diagnose issues, observe patterns, and share value with key stakeholders. We built the Section Traffic Monitor with these critical needs in mind.

Making Edge Computing Simpler for Technology Leaders

Edge as a Service providers, such as Section, are appealing to the need for flexibility in edge deployments, simplifying how developers build and run applications across an expansive and diverse edge network. Underlying that simplicity, however, are many levers that work together to deliver faster, more secure, and more cost-effective applications. We work hard to allow you to define the edge as you want it. The Section platform abstracts many of the complexities of edge computing away, so that organizations can focus on implementing the edge strategies that are most suitable for any given application.