The ‘edge’ is dominating many conversations across the technology landscape today. 75% of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed outside of centralized cloud data centers and relocated to the edge by 2022, according to Gartner. However, beyond its potential for disrupting traditional cloud infrastructure, what does edge computing tactically mean for developers who are responsible for the day-in-day-out management of increasingly distributed web application architecture?
The Benefits of Edge Computing for Developers
The tactical benefits of edge computing for developers are manifold, including:
- Speed/Performance – Perhaps the most fundamental advantage of edge computing is the vast improvements in processing speed that can be achieved; by moving workloads closer to the end user, data doesn’t have to travel all the way back to the centralized infrastructure, thereby reducing latency.
- Security – One of the most touted benefits of edge computing is the potential for improved security on various fronts, including:
- sensitive data being processed close to the end-user or end-device, as opposed to being sent across the network to a data center;
- authentication and validation of the identities of end-users is an ideal task for the edge, as is the enforcement of API routing policies to ensure that end-user traffic gets to the right cloud environment
- Points of Presence – With edge compute, significantly smaller amounts of data are sent to the cloud or data center for processing, reducing total traffic load and shrinking the application attack surface.
- Content Delivery – Content that requires extremely low latency, such as gaming, VR and AR is particularly suited to delivery at the edge; similarly autonomous vehicles that require real-time data transmission of extremely large quantities will only be able to be realized at the scale their vendors imagine if new forms of computing, including edge compute and 5G are deployed.
- Personalization – At the edge, content can be easily personalized at an individual level through leveraging users’ dynamic content-based profiles to tailor each web experience.
- Monitoring – Critical infrastructure like oil and gas utilities are prime candidates for edge computing; safety monitoring in IoT devices such as pressure sensors or internet protocol (IP) cameras at the edge are increasingly being used to safeguard against problems. Edge computing enables the processing and analysis of data in real-time, sending control centers information as it happens so that DevOps teams can anticipate and stop any incidents before they occur.
The Need for Flexibility
A multi-cloud strategy can be the most effective way to deputize edge computing and benefit from a cheaper, more flexible and secure computing framework. The edge can be most effective in an adjunct role to the public cloud or data center, benefitting from those microservices that are latency-sensitive, such as identity enforcement/validation that SaaS applications can run at the edge for an optimized end-user experience. Each application has its own requirements for data processing and application delivery optimization. Above all, developers need flexible tools that can adapt to any system architecture.
DevOps Principles & Selecting the Right Edge Platform
The developers have been somewhat forgotten about in the conversation around the edge even though they are the ones on the front lines of the paradigm shift. Solution providers who are touting their expansion into edge computing are not necessarily backing it up with developer-centric offerings.
In order to implement an effective edge compute infrastructure, it’s vital for developers to be able to extend the same Development - Staging - Production life cycles that they are accustomed to, extending the same DevOps principles that underpin their core application architecture. Again, flexibility is key.
The Section Edge Compute Platform emerged out of the need for a more flexible CDN solution and has evolved into a comprehensive edge compute platform that extends far beyond content delivery and caching. Guided by a ‘for-developers-by-developers’ manifesto, we believe that the only way to move technology forward is to grant full transparency and control for developers to run any workload, anywhere.
With Section’s modular Edge Compute Platform, developers have the freedom to select their own technology stack based on the specific needs of their applications and work in feature branches, modifying and testing in development and staging environments (without costly risks) before merging the branch back into production. The Section platform can be fully integrated with normal application development workflow and allows developers to leverage container orchestration to instantly effect immediate global configuration changes at the edge. Built on the Kubernetes system, Section’s Edge Compute Platform provides unmatched flexibility and scalability for engineers to develop against a distributed edge with comfort and confidence.
As the demand for edge computing continues to expand, Section aims to empower developers to push the boundaries of the computing landscape by providing the tools to build and run edge workloads on their own terms.