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The good, the bad and the ugly – exploring the implications of the Intelligent Edge, Part 2


Have thoughts or comments on the article below? Let me know: @JordanTechPro

At this point, we’ve established that there are some significant benefits and opportunities that can be achieved by unlocking the intelligent edge—and NOW is the time to do so. But if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. In my most recent blog post, I started discussing the challenges an enterprise might face embracing digital transformation and the intelligent edge: beginning with scale and connectivity. In this article, I will address the final two challenges mentioned previously: security and context.

 Security for modern needs.

Given that petabytes of data will increasingly be bouncing around in the air, the end-to-end security of systems needs careful consideration. The impact of not doing so can spell disaster not only for your own intelligent edge, but also for the systems to which you are connected. The impact could even be global. Just take a look at the DDoS attack on DYN (global DNS provider) in October of 2016. Millions of devices were compromised, and in turn, organizations who leveraged those DYN’s services were disrupted. The lessons learned here are clear:

  • Manufacturers have a responsibility to secure their devices, but there will always be vulnerabilities
  • Assume your organization will contain such devices in future, it’s impossible to keep them out. BYOD proved that if people see value in connecting something to your network, they will.
  • Build a platform that can respond dynamically to connectivity anomalies, preventing them from being used maliciously

Unfortunately, security breaches also bring other unwelcome results: litigation and damage to your brand, among others. Whether your network is are the source of an attack, or you are the recipient, you must protect yourself.

Given the major ramifications of a breach, there is a tectonic shift underway in today’s enterprise networks. But as BYOD and IoT initiatives continue to gain momentum, many enterprises are slow to respond. Furthermore, network security investments remain focused on shoring-up perimeter defenses, which fail to consider this new landscape.

The Intelligent Edge challenges the notion of a fixed perimeter and traditional defense mechanism. Smart devices walk right through the front door, bypassing security controls and connecting devices directly to the network without IT’s knowledge or permission. In a mobile world, the edge is any-place and every-place that people or things connect.

Context powers intelligence.

What are you going to do when you have access to the data of billions of nodes relating to your business? That data needs to be effectively gathered, analyzed and used to create actionable insight. This insight may improve operational decision making, predictive maintenance or may even fully automate many of your business processes. This insight also has the power to enable you to stand up new business models and value chains, which can ultimately be monetized. So, how do we get to insight? By aggregating points of data to build context.


 Context is key to understanding the world around us. As we develop the intelligent edge as a digital model of our world, digital context is part of what gives the edge its intelligence, or at least that perception of intelligence. And as we all know, perception is reality.

Let’s think about some of the contexts which have already transformed the way we interact with technology. In mobile, location has had a huge impact. By layering identity and location contexts together, knowing who you are AND where you are has the value is multiplied far beyond what each could provide alone. And in so doing, has enabled new business models like ridesharing, or transformed the workplace and venue operating models through intelligent spaces.

“Data… I am your father.” Know your source.

Now that we have explored why context matters, the question is: how are you getting access to the right data sources? Do you build your own sensor networks? Can you subscribe to the data streams of others? How do you select the value from the noise and aggregate these streams into reliable understanding? Where data is aggregated and analyzed is also a decision point that needs to be considered. Do you keep the data at the edge, or push it to the core?

 Edge computing brings bandwidth-intensive content and latency-sensitive applications closer to the source. It is inserted into a logical end point of a network as part of a larger hybrid-IT architecture. Principally to overcome some of the challenges of physics. Where it is costly or impractical to move large datasets, or where speed of response needs to be exceptional.

There are three primary applications of Edge Computing:

  • A tool to gather massive amounts of information from local “things” as an aggregation and control point – protecting the links to your core by intelligently filtering what is transmitted
  • A local storage and delivery provider of bandwidth-intensive content – again, protecting core links
  • A point of analytics for latency sensitive scenarios where the response is required so quickly, the data does not have the time to be sent to the cloud, processed and returned.

Context is how we make sense of the world around us. It’s the same for digital systems. The more context we have, the more we understand. The more personal the systems can become, the more informed they appear. When you hear terms like the “smart home”, “smart office” or “smart city”, it is context that delivers the “smart.”

Some things to remember

The intelligent edge brings together technology and place resulting in a seamless digital experience powered by data, context, connectivity and things – all at massive scale. It allows you to delight your customers, citizens and employees with increasingly innovative experiences. It means you can seamlessly blur the boundaries between the digital and physical world, extending the net new value available in the digital economy to the physical world. And you can exploit the pervasive connections between your existing and new systems with people, places and things.

 When you connect the unconnected and build a digital map of your world, amazing things can happen.

 But to achieve amazing things, you need the capability to do so. With over 11,000 projects every year delivered for our customers, HPE knows what “good” looks like across a holistic intelligent edge transformation. Learn more about our services organization, HPE Pointnext and take a look at what we’ve been able to help customers achieve.

 Don’t forget to share your thoughts and questions in the comments below, or tweet me at @JordanTechPro. You can also meet me in person, at HPE Discover in Las Vegas in June. Register now to see the latest and greatest in enterprise technology.


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About the Author


Jordan Whitmarsh is a global solution strategist and digital advisor for HPE Pointnext. He focuses on helping customers accelerate their digital transformation journey in an edge centric, data driven and cloud enabled world.