Presented by Lumen
Advances in computing power, AI, machine learning and IoT — combined with new app-driven architectures — are changing the global competitive landscape. But as we shift from a centralized world to a distributed one, nearly 3 in 4 global IT leaders say current IT infrastructures are not prepared to support the oncoming wave of users, growing data volumes and increased application performance needs.
“Harnessing the full potential of these emerging technologies requires a transformation of the business technology stack,” said Adeel Omer, Lumen VP of Product Marketing and Analyst Relations while speaking at Transform 2022. “High-speed, low-latency networks, cloud and the edge will be key to succeeding as application delivery undergoes a massive transformation.”
There are greater reliability consequences with edge computing, and improved redundancy as well. It’s a shift away from expensive and cost-prohibitive bandwidth to better security, control and visibility into data.
Businesses with eyes on this sea change are starting to invest in edge infrastructure, and edge computing locations are proliferating. In fact, 77% of global IT decision makers say their organizations’ latency challenges can only be solved by edge computing, bringing compute power as close as possible to the source. And by 2023 more than half of new enterprise IT infrastructure will be at the edge — five times what it is today.
The shift in architecture and infrastructure
Moving from the client-server model to a distributed compute model shows that compute services can now live anywhere, but so can applications. Supporting the application layer is an infrastructure of physical hardware and fiber networks connecting global data centers that support the platforms that continuously transfer data bringing these virtualized services to the consumers and companies that rely on them.
These pieces, the physical data center and the application on top, are familiar. But in the middle is everything from virtualized services for compute to routing and security policies, load balancing and an application hosting environment that hosts the VM or container.
“The IT practitioner, those of us who work in the technology sector, are working with this changing world where the platform is going to become the most important thing,” Omer said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a developer. It doesn’t matter if you’re in IT. It doesn’t matter if you’re in operations. It’s becoming one big ball of wax.”
That includes virtualized IT services, finding the right cloud environment for your applications and ultimately, it includes having the right kind of orchestrations so the right application can live in the right place. And as you develop Web 3.0 applications, which rely on constant connectivity, it’s important to weigh all these architectural considerations and their dependency on an underlying network – and understand what levers to pull to improve the performance, resilience and security of these applications.
Choosing a platform for the distributed world
Security is never far from top-of-mind for IT professionals — and when data is flowing constantly from a device to the cloud and on to 100,000 ad platforms, how do you ensure the right encryption is being applied? How do you guard an ecommerce website from attack, and keep malware away from all the devices you’re trying to protect?
Selecting a platform for edge means determining the level of built-in security, how it treats layer 3 and 4 security, application-level security — and whether it uses WAFs and WAPs to protect where applications live. These are all critical considerations for a platform that’s going to host applications.
“Even when those applications are distributed, they’re all still connected by the network,” Omer said. “If you’re exposed in one place, you’ll be exposed in more places if you’re not protecting your applications by design. It’s important for the platform to provide that capability.”
Performance and latency are also important considerations, but need to be defined. The platform should be able to understand those definitions and those requirements. Application performance and latency, load balancing and delivering the best possible experience to the end user relies on visibility across the network.
For instance, a large media and content provider wants to seamlessly release the last season of a hit show. That content needs to be distributed to users worldwide in the most efficient and most technologically advanced way, to avoid buffering and Twitter backlash. To deploy that code and that content in the best possible way means being able to monitor performance in every corner of the network.
Built for the edge
The Lumen platform specifically offers visibility into performance, as well as greater redundancy and the ability to expand and scale up that capability. Users can spin services up and down as necessary and as demand fluctuates throughout the day.
“We own a lot of the infrastructure, which allows us to have that visibility and those integrations that allow us to deliver those kinds of dashboards for security and performance that would otherwise not be possible,” Omer said.
And investing in edge node locations means the network can deliver sub-5ms latency to more than 97% of enterprises in the U.S. and more than 70% in Europe.
“Whether you’re a developer, operations professional or an IT professional, when you start to think about edge and deploying your applications on the edge, you need to think about three things,” Omer said. “The underlying infrastructure, the capabilities of the platform and whether the underlying platform and infrastructure have been designed to meet the needs of that application. That’s going to help you succeed in a distributed world.”
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