Sep 30 2022

How Agencies Can Ensure Reliability in Edge Computing

Edge computing helps agencies process data faster, but maintaining reliability is critical in handling the growing volume of data.

As federal agencies increasingly rely on cloud services and data analytics, speed and uptime is more important than ever. IT leaders now need systems and solutions that require little hands-on attention and provide low latency with quick response time.

Edge computing enables federal agencies to process data faster and tap advanced capabilities like artificial intelligence to make better decisions. However, the reliance on edge computing and the growing volumes of data make reliability critical.

“Whether it’s helping people in a flood zone, managing the electoral process or a military application, the ability to work independently is critical to the success of the mission,” says Daniel Carroll, field CTO for cybersecurity and senior manager for U.S. federal solutions at Dell Technologies. “Reliability is critical, as these things have to happen where they are occurring, quickly, so people there can take action.”

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The Role of Edge Computing in the Federal Government Is Growing

In recent years, edge computing has transformed many aspects of how federal agencies operate. From military applications and border patrol to disaster relief and tracking lost mail, edge solutions help agencies more efficiently gather, process and use data. According to research by Accenture, 9 in 10 federal leaders now say edge solutions are very important to meeting mission needs.

While edge computing primarily has been viewed as a means to accelerate data transfer from field sensors, it now enables complex operations such as AI and advanced analytics. As a result, applications are becoming more complex, says Carroll. Gartner predicts that by 2023, more than 50 percent of data and analytics will be created, managed and analyzed in edge environments.

“The size of those networks and the effectiveness and capability to do it has improved over time with the advancements of technology,” Carroll says.

EXPLORE: The 5 ways edge computing can deliver better application performance.

The evolution of edge computing is aiding federal agencies in many ways. For example, the U.S. Postal Service uses an edge-based analytics system to quickly analyze billions of images from postal centers to find lost packages in hours instead of days. NASA is exploring edge computing to process data from the International Space Station, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is using AI modeling from sensors to measure current conditions.

“It’s all about processing data as quickly as possible. They cannot wait for data to be sent back and go through an analytics engine or core data center,” Carroll says.

In the past, as organizations reached the limits of bandwidth and latency, the greatest challenges with edge computing were size and performance. While this has improved, the newest challenges are in security and design. Additionally, as federal agencies double down on edge computing, explosive growth in data volumes can increase pressure on networks.

“They are now working with bigger data sets. The massive amount of data being generated at the edge is going to require more processing,” Carroll says. “Security is a challenge, and reliability is critical.”

Daniel Carroll
Whether it’s helping people in a flood zone, managing the electoral process or a military application, the ability to work independently is critical to the success of the mission.”

Daniel Carroll Field CTO, Cybersecurity and Senior Manager, U.S. federal Solutions at Dell Technologies

Design and Simplicity Ensure Reliability in Edge Computing

Accenture’s report found agencies’ top challenges in adopting edge solutions were security, operational challenges and privacy concerns.

To ensure reliability and solid performance, agencies should start by designing networks from the ground up to support the right outcomes, says Carroll. Where once the federal government built IT infrastructure then used it to solve problems, it now starts by identifying the desired outcome and then builds the most viable solution to achieve it. Agencies must first determine how individual field operations can benefit by putting computing at the edge.

“You consider what you need to analyze at the edge, what technology you need to do that, what form factor and size is required, and then you build from that,” Carroll says.

DISCOVER: The requirements for cybersecurity in a 5G environment.

Because networks are critical to reliability, agencies should also consider how solutions are optimized for specific networks like 5G, Wi-Fi 6 and LoRaWAN. Simplifying edge-based operations can also improve reliability. Agencies can reduce complexity by streamlining data management, securing the operational environment and overcoming environmental and latency constraints.

Prioritizing data is also important, Carroll says. While increased processing power and new 5G cellular networks have helped address latency and bandwidth issues, agencies may still need to determine which data sets are mission critical and which can be delayed, if necessary.

Agencies can also improve reliability by taking a platform-based approach and finding the right technology partners. On the technology and equipment end, reliable solutions such as Dell EMC’s PowerEdge servers and Virtual Edge Platform can help integrate devices into agency’s existing networks.

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