The Three Edge Types
Not all remote sites are the same. It follows that not all cloud edge implementations are the same from a technological standpoint. IT needs to consider many variables when designing and deploying edge infrastructure to support a remote site. In general, there are three common types:
This style of edge is popular for small shops, stores or offices that predominantly rely on local productivity apps (such as Microsoft Office) and SaaS apps (such as Salesforce.com or Square POS). To support this use case, IT will provision simple broadband access to the Internet and wireless LAN (WLAN) within the office for basic connectivity.
In some remote sites, staff requires access to both public cloud/SaaS applications as well as traditional data center centralized services such as VPN, Active Directory, DHCP and DNS. In such cases, IT will configure a hybrid-edge, which provides a mix of connectivity options such as public Internet broadband and private MPLS, and WLAN for user access.
Internet-only edge and hybrid-edge approaches work when users only need centralized productivity apps or SaaS apps. Often, however, remote users need to run mission-critical enterprise applications such as ERP, CAD/CAM or other database-driven local applications such as enterprise POS systems.
With application performance and high availability as priority requirements, this edge type is comprised of remote sites that run critical, data-generating and database-rich line-of-business applications locally. As a result, these site types need their own local servers.
The dilemma at edge locations is that while the technology challenges are often tougher at the edge, there are often fewer enterprise resources to support the edge. This makes managing edge locations very tricky for IT, ultimately limiting business opportunity.
These cases require enough infrastructure to run major applications locally, with the compute, storage, data protection and network resources that major enterprise applications require. This leads to the third type of cloud edge: Stateful-Edge.
Stateful-Edge sites also generate valuable data and thus require local storage and backup. In addition, Stateful-Edge sites require enterprise-class WAN and LAN network infrastructure to stay synchronized with data center and enterprise cloud systems. Examples of this type of use case include:
- Volume / weight / invoicing
- Data Analytics (IoT)
- Proprietary vertical industry apps
This approach provides relatively fast broadband access with low management loads for IT. It falls short, however, when remote staff requires access to the data center for apps and data. In such cases, there are two additional cloud edge types: Hybrid-Edge and Stateful-Edge.
This approach balances networking costs with performance, security and availability requirements for centralized applications and services.