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The Key to Ensure Consistent Edge Connectivity is a Multi-Layered Approach

May 2, 2024

Consistent Edge Connectivity

Introduction

At the ever-expanding edge, where data processing and decision making have migrated closer to the physical devices generating the information, network instability presents an imposing challenge. Unpredictable connectivity, intermittent links, and fluctuating bandwidth can wreak havoc on the edge’s promise of real-time insights and localized control. To truly harness the power of edge computing, we have to develop strategies that address these connectivity issues. This requires a deep understanding of the unique network conditions prevalent at the edge, along with the implementation of robust techniques to ensure seamless operation even in the face of network volatility.


Why Unreliable Connectivity is a Critical Edge Issue

Traditional data centers operate with a high degree of network reliability and uptime. The edge environment is radically different. Edge devices and applications may reside in remote locations, on vehicles, or in settings where consistent connectivity cannot be guaranteed, posing unique challenges.

While data centers might experience brief data packet loss, edge devices could face disconnections lasting minutes, hours, or even days. This necessitates designing applications that gracefully handle these situations. Edge applications need to be robust enough to handle extended periods of offline operation, ensuring continuity of critical processes. Finally, intermittent connectivity can also pose security risks. Devices isolated by network disruptions become vulnerable and need to implement strong local security measures even when they cannot communicate with a central management system.


Mitigating Intermittent Connectivity Challenges

Unreliable edge connections can wreak havoc on applications designed for constant connectivity. To combat this challenge, several key strategies are critical. Firstly, implementing a tiered connectivity system provides flexibility. This might involve using ethernet as the primary connection, LTE as a backup, and satellite for emergencies. With this approach, applications can intelligently select the most cost-effective and available option at any given time. Next, designing edge systems around the concept of eventual consistency is essential. This acknowledges that network disruptions can cause temporary delays in data updates and synchronization across devices and cloud services. Applications need to be built to tolerate some degree of “staleness” or inconsistency to maintain functionality.

 

ZEDEDA: Architectured for Securing Edge Connectivity

ZEDEDA’s architecture is designed to tackle the core challenges of edge computing: remote locations, unreliable connectivity, and bandwidth constraints. A key feature is its network-agnostic approach, allowing applications and updates to be deployed seamlessly across diverse network types (LTE, satellite, private networks, etc.).

ZEDEDA empowers customers to manage edge devices and applications even when connectivity to a central system is lost. This is crucial for scenarios where intermittent connectivity is the norm. The platform enables the design of modular applications that can receive targeted updates, significantly reducing data transfer needs and optimizing the process for low-bandwidth environments.

ZEDEDA balances flexibility with security. Customers can orchestrate their edge deployments from a centralized location while enforcing safeguards like a two-stage configuration lock. This minimizes the risk of accidental changes that could disrupt operations across their edge infrastructure.

Ultimately, ZEDEDA’s architecture and functionality are highly adaptable, making it suitable for a wide range of edge customers who demand resilient, efficient, and secure management of their distributed assets.

 

Air Gapped Environments: Challenges and Mitigation Strategies

Similar to deployments with intermittent connectivity, air gapped environments present their own set of challenges. Air gapped environments are highly secure networks deliberately isolated from any external connections, including the public internet or even corporate intranets.

Managing and updating applications and devices within an air gapped system poses a unique challenge, as traditional methods like USB drives for software updates introduce security risks and logistical inefficiencies. Customers with multiple air gapped deployments typically require solutions that safeguard against potential system failures and inherent data loss. These solutions should include full lifecycle application management to deploy, restart, and control applications throughout their lifecycle, even when there is no connectivity, and rapid disaster recovery to replace devices quickly in the event of device failure without compromising the air gapped network.

 

ZEDEDA Edge Sync: Robust Local Management for Demanding Edge Environments

Local network management, with local operator consoles, can address air gap challenges by bridging the gap between centralized cloud-based management and disconnected edge environments. Operating alongside an edge orchestration and management platform, a local management solution ensures customers can monitor and manage their deployments regardless of current connectivity status.

ZEDEDA Edge Sync is a local management service that addresses a critical challenge in managing edge deployments: unreliable or completely absent cloud connectivity. ZEDEDA Edge Sync provides a management and monitoring API that enables customers to build their own custom integrations, applications, and HMI interfaces leveraging ZEDEDA’s API-based approach. This solution is specifically designed to empower architects working with air gapped environments, ultra-secure deployments, or projects where network connections are inconsistent due to the nature of the deployment site. Even when disconnected from the cloud, Edge Sync enables continuous monitoring and management of edge nodes, allowing for configuration updates and essential status checks.

It functions as a local “source of truth” for device configuration. When cloud connectivity is restored, Edge Sync synchronizes with the cloud for seamless, up-to-date management. This approach guarantees operational continuity within the edge deployment, regardless of temporary internet outages.

For architects currently managing air gapped environments and contemplating a future cloud migration, ZEDEDA Edge Sync serves as a valuable bridge solution. It delivers secure local management capabilities while providing a controlled and risk-mitigated path to the cloud.

In essence, ZEDEDA Edge Sync is an indispensable tool for architects seeking a reliable network connectivity solution in the complex world of edge computing. From ultra-secure deployments to projects located in areas with limited internet access, ZEDEDA Edge Sync ensures the manageability and integrity of your edge nodes regardless of current connectivity status..

To learn more about edge connectivity challenges and how ZEDEDA Edge Sync can help to address them, join us at our upcoming webinar on May 9, 2024. You can also read more about ZEDEDA Edge Sync on our website.

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