By CDW Canada
The need for digital transformation has accelerated at warp speed over the past 20 months, with new possibilities now available for employees to work from anywhere in the world using almost any device. Yet, for hybrid and remote work models to function efficiently and securely, there is an essential piece of the digital transformation puzzle that should be prioritized at every step of the journey: IT infrastructure.
One increasingly popular approach to future-proofed infrastructure is building out hybrid IT solutions, leveraging a combination of public cloud, private data center and edge computing. This hybrid cloud operating model strategy leverages the most efficient and secure aspects of cloud with the consistency of the optimized data center, while also integrating the power of edge computing for specialized needs. This ensures IT networks can scale quickly and with agility in anticipation of future business needs.
Rapidly scaling services in a customized way is key for organizations; every digital transformation journey looks different, and changes must be anticipated and planned for accordingly. Wherever your organization may be in its transformation, a robust cloud operating model that includes managed edge computing will help ensure your systems are optimized and future-proofed for your needs.
Hybrid IT supports business success from anywhere
Implementing hybrid IT solutions, including public cloud services, is an effective way for organizations to take advantage of the value of the public cloud while maintaining support for services that are not yet cloud-ready. CDW’s Cloud Report, A Cloud-Based Digital Fabric Supports a Transformed Enterprise, found that the majority (56%) of business leaders in Canada committed to hybrid IT and the hybrid cloud model as their go-forward strategy.
Further, having a mature hybrid cloud operating model allows organizations to leverage their existing infrastructure to quickly locate and access important data where it is needed – a crucial exercise as we look beyond the pandemic to the future of work.
Many causes led to the widespread adoption of cloud services in Canada. According to CDW’s Cloud Report, these include:
• Supporting reduced or constrained IT budgets (44%);
• Keeping up with compliance across regions (43%);
• Supporting digital transformation initiatives (40%);
• Needing functionality or services only found in cloud offerings (36%);
• Deteriorating software applications (35%);
• Supporting the growth of data beyond the capacity of existing systems (35%); and
• Reducing the number of data centers (35%).
An IT network’s speed, accuracy, accessibility and cost-efficiency remain top of mind for IT professionals as they determine what pressures the future of work may bring. The flexibility of being able to seamlessly manage data across the cloud and data centers, supplemented by the edge, will help organizations realize their business objectives faster and support an operate anywhere strategy.
Innovating at the Edge
As organizations continue to rely on the public cloud for computing services data hosting, the speed, agility and security that their IT networks need to operate effectively can be compromised under the strain. To help mitigate this, organizations should plan for leveraging services at the edge.
The distance between local systems and core data center services can result in a high latency environment causing services to suffer or limit system capabilities. With edge computing, data is processed in real-time and much closer to the signal-sending devices. This reduces the need for sending and receiving data from the data center and decreases latency issues, resulting in organizations’ improved processing ability and better overall capabilities of solutions being deployed.
Operating a hybrid cloud model complements edge computing by building a flexible and agile platform for service. As organizations’ edge strategies increase in sophistication, a cloud operating model can be used for the automated deployment and management of processes at the edge. For example, artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) deployments can be replicated, standardized and deployed on edge devices via automation playbooks. These services are generally very impactful to high-value business objectives, ranging from services that better enable self-checkout kiosks and inventory management to automated vehicles.
Combining information from edge devices and delivering AI/ML capabilities where the data is being processed enables real-time actions based on the data and allows for efficient operations that minimize data processing time. This intricate information increases the value of organizations’ data by providing essential benefits like predictive insights for proactive troubleshooting and local filtering of data relevancy – highly important to organizations that use externally deployed devices such as IoT sensors, security cameras or industrial automation.
The growing prevalence of edge computing also gives credence to its power; according to CDW’s Cloud Report, over half of senior IT executives (57%) already had an edge computing strategy. Edge computing affords organizations a truly holistic means of connectivity for their digital transformation when it is best managed by adopting a cloud operating model.
Securing the Edge with Zero Trust architecture
Remote work and the extension of workflows to third-party partners are pushing IT and cybersecurity resources to the brink. As a result, securing remote devices at the edge with robust cybersecurity protocols is now considered a must-have. In addition, the increasingly frequent and sophisticated nature of cyberthreats means that issues of digital identity authentication and services and device non-repudiation must be addressed and proactively prevented faster than ever.
Adopting a Zero Trust framework enables organizations to tackle timely issues of identity and digital trust management — both crucial for maintaining healthy cybersecurity and governance during the digital transformation process. When corporate networks are extended outside of traditional boundaries, as they are when implementing hybrid cloud with edge, this architecture offers better governance, control and visibility over who and what can access IT touchpoints.
Zero Trust requires that users always validate their identity as a default. This baseline approach to always authenticate and authorize permissions to access data is key to maintaining a robust cybersecurity position with remote work, bring your own device (BYOD), mobile and cloud adoption.
So, how can you ramp up security for your organization’s cloud resources and edge devices? A Zero Trust framework is just that — a framework. Which Zero Trust approaches work for your organization should be established and evaluated on a case-by-case basis. According to Innovation in Cybersecurity: Approach, Tools and Technology, CDW’s 2021 Security Study, the most common reasons for adopting a Zero Trust architecture are to:
• Address concerns with the security of existing VPN solutions (66 %).
• Unify identity management across the corporate network, public cloud and SaaS (55 %).
• Support the increased adoption of remote work (55 %).
• Reduce the complexity of cybersecurity protocols (43 %).
• Address security concerns about BYOD (30 %).
Establishing a thorough identity management protocol is an important step to securing devices near the edge while maintaining a healthy cybersecurity posture for your entire IT network, but it is not sufficient by itself. Implementing on-premises, cloud or edge network segmentation, responding to threats against endpoint devices and establishing a robust vulnerability management program are all part of a well-built Zero Trust architecture.
Lean on IT experts to manage the journey
No two digital transformation paths are alike but enabling hybrid and remote work models with the speed, efficiency, security and scalability of hybrid IT — including hybrid cloud, edge computing and Zero Trust architecture – brings that once distant digital destination into vivid focus.
The future of work will bring many new challenges, so working alongside an IT expert has never been more important. Look to build meaningful relationships with experts who can keep their finger on the pulse of how and when to integrate the latest value-add strategies on your behalf, while always using a holistic, forward-looking IT lens. Digital transformation is on an exciting trajectory, and IT experts can help you better deploy hybrid IT infrastructure to smooth the journey.
About the author
CDW Canada is a provider of technology solutions for business, government, education and healthcare.
DISCLAIMER: Guest posts are submitted content. The views expressed in this blog are that of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Edge Industry Review (EdgeIR.com).
CDW | edge computing | hybrid cloud | IT architecture | managed services | network | professional services | security | Zero Trust