The modern data center is the edge data center

The continued explosive growth of data traffic is leading to a whole new data center concept: edge data centers. These small data centers on the edge of the network benefit from a good and fully automated integration of network management and security. In this way, companies get the best user experience in a fully secure environment.

Running one or two central data centers is no longer sustainable for many organizations. Setting up edge data centers is a solution to this. These data centers are located close to the end users and the data sources. Small data centers on the edge of the network environment, so-called edge data centers, are indispensable in a modern IT infrastructure. Shorter connections reduce latency, provide end-users with faster access to the necessary applications, data and services, and minimize the cost of data transport.

Challenges

“With the advent of edge data centers, IT departments do not have to deal with network management of just one or two data center environments, but multiples of them.”

So edge data centers provide benefits, but there are also challenges. Especially in the network management of these data centers, but also in the field of security. With the advent of edge data centers, IT departments do not have to deal with network management of only one or two data center environments, but multiples of these. As a result, the network management of these data centers is also much larger and more complex. Businesses and their IT managers will therefore need to think carefully about how to organize this process.

It is important that network management is performed in a consistent manner. This prevents differences between edge data centers within the same WAN. This requires a clear design and rollout process.

The consistent way of network management (day-2 operations) is impossible to disconnect from automation. Otherwise, it will lead to too many errors and high inefficiency, a poorer user experience and more costs.

Zero trust and security

The second challenge is security. Previously, data center security was limited to the physical and virtual perimeter of the data center. At best, security consisted of one or more firewalls that provided security and access to the services hosted in the data center. Who was in the end and connect to all applications and services.

Today, the concept, which mainly consists of perimeter security, is no longer sufficient. The advent of edge data centers and distributed environments full of sensors and connections requires new security concepts. For example, zero confidence and / or secure access security edge (sase).

Zero-Trust basically does not trust any device or person to access the network. This makes it possible, for example, to enforce fine-grained security policies on what, who and even when applications, data and services are available. With zero trust, security can be determined down to the smallest detail without increasing the complexity of security administrators.

Sase is a security framework that can be used to secure distributed network environments, from edge data centers and common data centers to (multi) cloud environments. The implemented security solutions constantly identify users, apply security through a centrally managed policy and thus provide secure access to the right applications, data or services. No matter where devices, applications, data or users are located.

Integration management and security crucial

“Preferably, network and security management merge efficiently and consistently”

If companies want to utilize edge data centers optimally and efficiently, it is important that both network and security management are set up efficiently and consistently. Preferably, these two worlds should merge for this. Automated network management and security management cannot exist without each other and must be part of the entire life cycle of an (edge) data center (design up to and including operation).

Network management and security departments in companies that often still function as separate silos therefore need to work more closely together at an organizational level. Especially by embracing consistent network management and security concepts such as zero trust and security.

It is important that a clear policy emerges from this cooperation. Policies that regulate the design, deployment and management of the complete network environment and security are made transparent and implemented through automation.

In short, companies must have the right organizational policies, delivery processes and the right technology solutions for combined uniform network and security management. Only then can they reap the benefits of edge data centers.

(The author is Fons Laudy, EMEA Sales Director, Data Center and Cloud at Juniper Networks.)

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