Edge Computing

The Shift to Edge Computing and its Impact on Data Privacy and Security

The advent of the covid pandemic in 2020 irrevocably changed the world. Technology trends that were predicted five to ten years into the future suddenly became current reality as everyone made the shift from in-person interactions to working and schooling from home. To make this adjustment feasible, the initial focus was on connectivity – reliable connections delivering ever-growing amounts of bandwidth to more locations. Critically, people needed to access company data remotely as well as collaborate in groups and preferably with video capabilities. This led to a sharp increase in the need for effective collaboration tools such as Zoom, Teams, and Skype.

With the accelerated drive to digitise businesses and homes the propagation of poorly secured devices, network connections, and collaboration tools, provided the perfect opportunity for cyber criminals to make 2021 the year of ransomware. An alarming number of individuals, private companies, and government agencies across the world experienced unprecedented and costly data and network breaches. Cyber security was pushed into the spotlight, forcing companies to focus on educating their employees about the perils of remote working, as well as tightening up network security to protect their all-important customer data.

According to Mohammed Amin, Senior Vice President – MERAT, at Dell Technologies, “2021 was a year of recovery and resilience, and one that brought extraordinary shifts in the way we live and work”. Of course, many of those shifts were made possible by technology transforming the way in which nearly every industry connected with its staff and serviced its customers. Amin’s predictions of key technologies for 2021 included Hybrid Cloud, Edge, 5G, Intelligent Work Solutions and AI/Automation technologies, and all of these certainly have accelerated the pace of digital transformation and brought some major opportunities and shifts in the way organisations do business today.

So what is 2022 the year of? During global Cyber Security month in October 2021, Echo spoke about the evolution of networks and security from onsite and device-centric to cloud and software-centric marking the transition to the next generation of networks. SD-WAN took over from VPNs as the benchmark to enable scalable, redundant and highly secure network connections between on-premises, remote, edge and/or cloud environments, and we are now into a new wave of networking with Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), says Graeme O’Driscoll, Echo International Mauritius CIO.

The decentralising of cloud/data storage, network security and workforces has led to a rise in IoT devices and data proliferation so edge computing is becoming the new frontier. Gartner has predicted that acceleration of digital transformation means that around 75% of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed outside a traditional centralised datacentre or cloud by 2025.

“Having identified this trend, towards the end of 2021, Echo launched ZTNA as the latest addition to our software-defined SuperWAN offering which is built on Fortinet’s FortiGate technology. ZTNA supports the move to edge computing, decentralised cloud and data storage, and the proliferation of IoT devices, by operating on the basis of adaptive trust. The ZTNA set of technologies grants access based on several configurable security posture checks regardless of the end user’s location or the site where applications/data are located. ZTNA gives users seamless and secure connectivity to private applications without ever placing them on the network or exposing apps to the internet,” says O’Driscoll.

Speaking on 19 January during the ITWeb Tech Trends for 2022 webinar, Brian Burke, research VP for technology innovation at Gartner, shared this year’s three overarching themes on the Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies (Gartner Information Technology Trends 2022) that are driving businesses to explore emerging technologies in the quest for growth, digitisation, and efficiency. These are engineering trust, accelerating growth, and sculpting change.

Burke says that without security and reliability, there is no trust. “Trust is becoming more and more important. In organisations, as well as individually, it’s hard to know how you can trust organisations and other entities on the Internet. And so engineering trust is really about moving to more of a decentralised trust model where we can trust the technology as opposed to trusting individuals because we don’t always know the identity of those individuals.”

It is clear that “trust” is the major focus for 2022. With decentralisation driving that focus, a technology foundation that enables flexible and secure collaboration from any location between an organisation’s systems and data, employees, partners, and customers is key to driving business strategies related to innovation, growth and market creation.

AI, multi-experience, quantum machine learning, digital humans, the metaverse – what was science fiction is on the horizon, shifting us from screen and keyboard interactions to a more immersive environment with augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual reality. The way that we interact with technology is transforming at pace and offers tremendous growth opportunity for early adopters who are willing to take a risk to influence and sculpt change in their industries.”