Jun 13 2023
Data Analytics

The Rise of Edge Computing

Defense and civilian agencies see the benefits of processing data in real time on devices rather than in data centers or the cloud.

Defense and civilian agencies are finding edge computing an effective way to bring resources closer to their employees and enable remote work.

Department of Defense and intelligence community personnel need real-time access to data but can’t always reach the cloud from the field. That is why the National Security Agency launched the Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) program for procuring devices that can connect to sensitive environments — even across public networks.

The edge refers to everything outside data centers and the cloud. Edge computing allows devices to process data in real time without connecting to public cloud. About 80 percent of all data will be processed at the source by 2025, according to CDW, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting increase in remote work.

Plus, processing data in data centers or the cloud tends to be more time-consuming and expensive. With that in mind, the rise of edge computing makes even more sense.

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Edge Computing Benefits and Challenges for the Pentagon

Since the launch of CSfC, the DOD and the IC have increased remote work. Edge resources help both organizations’ personnel avoid connecting to the public cloud and exposing themselves to potential cyberattacks. However, when a cloud connection is needed, they can use a trusted gateway to move from a classified to unclassified network.

Amazon Web Services announced in February that its Modular Data Center — which will allow the DOD to deploy secure edge computing and storage in remote environments — would be sold under the department’s $9 billion Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability contract.

The Pentagon isn’t limited to using only AWS under that contract; using CSfC, agencies can obtain ruggedized, secure servers for remote outposts.

A challenge the DOD faces in working with any vendor’s solution is it will need to strip some parts or maintain old, classified ones to comply with its own security policies and controls. As a result, the Pentagon’s adoption and vetting of edge computing solutions takes longer than it does for industry.

DISCOVER: Check out 5 ways edge computing can deliver better application performance.

How Civilian Agencies Should Approach the Edge

Civilian agencies have found edge infrastructure more agile to stand up and more mobile in disaster response situations.

National security agencies are taking advantage of data analytics in cameras that can identify objects, people and threats in real time at the edge.

Edge computing also lets low-latency applications run optimally, so federal engineers and data scientists working remotely don’t need to access large applications out of a centralized data center.

Those agencies interested in adopting edge computing should do their research and seek out industry partners that can provide accurate cost estimates. Some vendors offer affordable processes and appliances for compute, storage and networking that will lower edge computing costs.

Agencies also need to identify a problem to solve with edge computing, targeting less critical services for testing edge computing solutions and transitioning methodically. That way, they won’t make the classic mistake of moving too quickly and taking on more than they can handle.

This article is part of FedTech’s CapITal blog series.

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