Riverbed SteelFusion Helps You Get the Most From the Intersect Between IoT and the Intelligent Edge
What is the network edge? In the telecommunications field, it might be a phone or a cell tower. In an automotive scenario, the edge of the network could be a car. In manufacturing, it could be a machine or a shop floor; in retail, a warehouse or a superstore; and in enterprise IT, the edge could be a laptop, or an entire remote site.
The edge, in short, is where business gets done.
Edge computing allows data produced by Internet of things (IoT) devices to be processed closer to where it is created instead of sending it across long routes to datacenters or clouds. By doing this computing closer to the edge of the network, organizations can analyze important data in near real-time — and that's a goal for enterprises across many industries. In fact, edge computing is essential for building a robust platform for growth.
Figure 1. How enterprises use IoT
As connectivity increases, the capabilities of IoT products and services grow exponentially — but so does network complexity and data. To accommodate this, you need a robust infrastructure platform engineered to scale; effective use of such a platform can become a competitive advantage or an instantaneous differentiator. Riverbed SteelFusion was built to address the operational complexity, data growth, and data security required by IoT applications.
We spoke to Raushni Gupta, senior manager of product marketing at Riverbed, to learn more about SteelFusion's role where IoT and the intelligent edge meet.
The Internet of Things isn't vaporware. IoT-enabled cost reductions, operational efficiency, and business insights are transforming a number of industries:
Energy: Oil and gas companies make use of IoT devices to measure along drilling lines. Smart energy grids rely on IoT devices to enable communication between the grid and the consumer to optimize the process and cut expenditure, potentially reducing carbon footprint.
Manufacturing and supply chain: IoT devices and RFID tags help identify inventory and distribution bottlenecks, create actionable insights, and enable innovation.
Retail: The age of “let me check in the back” is coming to an end. Automated monitoring in-store inventory in real time is an important part of the future of retail.
Agriculture: IoT is in the field — literally — boosting the efficiency of prepping, planting, feeding, and harvesting, and improving per-acre crop yields.
RIVERBED CONNECTIONS: Tell us a little about what SteelFusion brings to the table in terms of its technological capabilities. Obviously, you want high performance from a solution like this, right?
RAUSHNI GUPTA: Yes, and the key is that you need local high performance. IoT edge devices collect massive amounts of data, much of which needs to be processed at the edge where it was created. SteelFusion helps triage the data locally, reducing the backhaul traffic over the WAN to the central data store. This is ideal for manufacturing operations and other near-real time applications. You also need to support real-time analytics. IoT deployments produce an exponential amount of data that can provide actionable business insights into customers as well as internal operations. Mission critical applications sometimes require real-time analysis at the edge where data is being generated to enable timely action.
Of course, you do still need to connect to that data store, which is why optimized connectivity is also key. In most scenarios, you cannot count on a cloud with a strong and stable fat pipe between the cloud and the edge device, and so optimized WAN connectivity is essential. This is a flagship strength for Riverbed, and an inherent feature of the SteelFusion solution.
RC: What are the security considerations with all this computing power deployed at the edge?
RG: Clearly there's a need for data security. Most IoT devices and the related edge sites — an oil rig, for example, or a manufacturing floor — are not intrinsically designed with data security in mind, and intellectual property is thus at high risk. Data security and disaster recovery need to be at top of mind. SteelFusion encrypts and minimizes your data footprint, and provides IT organizations with unprecedented control over data access at the edge, while providing aggressive RPO and RTO to optimize data security.
RC: If an enterprise wants to deploy SteelFusion at the intersect of IoT and the intelligent edge, is there going to be a steep learning curve on either end of that relationship?
RG: SteelFusion is already well entrenched in top industries deploying IoT applications for business outcomes — manufacturing, energy, retail, transportation, and financial services, to name just a few. Enterprises could potentially deploy their IoT related workloads on existing SteelFusion infrastructure without the costly overhead of testing, training, and deployment of an unfamiliar technology.
RC: An IoT rollout is no small thing — it's usually a team effort with multiple vendors. Does SteelFusion play well with others?
RG: It's true that a successful implementation of IoT takes an ecosystem effort enabled by an industry convergence. It's a merging of enterprises, distributors, and system integrators cooperating to create a data-driven business model. And SteelFusion provides a seamless platform for ecosystem integration in IoT deployments.
While it’s still early, we are seeing success with systems integrators such as IBM working in partnership with Riverbed to deliver IP protection and automation and analytics services to factory floors, with applications running on a minimal footprint SteelFusion Edge with centralized IT operations. For a real-world example, check out this video about an IT solution for a global manufacturer of ceramics and electronic components, rolled out by Riverbed and IBM.
SteelFusion: Brains and connectivity at the edge
Riverbed SteelFusion provides an agile, high performance, and secure edge platform for implementing IoT solutions. Riverbed SteelFusion protects IP generated at the edge, minimizes investment in remote IT staff, and optimizes WAN connectivity. For more information, check out Riverbed's SteelFusion page, or our site dedicated to cloud edge solutions.