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It is predicted that in 2023, over half of new enterprise IT infrastructure will be deployed at the edge rather than centralized data centers, as compared with just 10% in 2019.1 This tremendous growth is a massive shift for enterprises who only a few years ago were looking to the public cloud to provide them with data center agility and efficiency across their entire data center. Most if not all have realized that they have data requirements at the edge that simply cannot be done in the cloud.

Regardless, this growth has also uncovered a set of challenges that enterprises may have experienced in their core data centers but due to the space limitations and remote nature of edge deployments, these challenges have become more exacerbated.

The three biggest challenges distributed edge challenges enterprises will face include:


Challenge: Unreliable Security

The edge is the single most vulnerable attack surface within the enterprise, with bad actors trying to find a way into systems of record literally every hour of every day. Even physical security is a problem as a secure deployment could be made vulnerable with as little as an unlocked door!

And while cybersecurity is a multi-layered approach, the security at the server-storage infrastructure level has lagged behind application and network level security. On the rise are firmware attacks. Vulnerabilities in server and storage firmware can give malicious actors access to your edge sites, often without you knowing it. Once the rogue code has found its way into the system, it can target parts of the server operating system, infiltrate software, and more.

Solution: Recover from Ransomware in under 4-minutes

Nebulon helps solve security challenges at the edge in a few ways. We start with patented crypto-authentication which protects edge infrastructure from external bad actors & man-in-the-middle attacks. Granular access control limits accidental or intentional actions leading to downtime or data breaches. An ‘always-on’ approach to encryption at rest and in-flight avoids breaches caused by an admin ‘forgetting’ to turn on or intentionally disabling encryption. Regular, automated firmware updates reduce infrastructure vulnerability to attack. And should the worst happen, two breakthrough new services from Nebulon — ImmutableBoot and TimeJump — revert infected or damaged infrastructure to a known good version of your OS and application data in just one four-minute operation.


Challenge: Management Complexity

Managing and maintaining hundreds or thousands of edge locations can quickly become an operational nightmare. Especially since many edge infrastructure solutions don’t offer the ability for centralized, remote control. In these cases, each site or cluster of sites is managed individually or with a “manager-of-managers,” which can extend the time necessary for software updates to weeks or months. To make matters worse, certain operational issues (i.e. a failed boot drive) may require the need for an in-person, onsite fix which is an expensive, time-consuming task—especially in more rural locations.

Solution: Reduce Management Overhead at the Edge by 75%

The operational overhead of managing site infrastructure for dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of remote edge sites is made substantially easier with a control plane in the cloud. Enjoy zero-touch monitoring & maintenance across the entire fleet globally. Filter actions or views by department, geography, or application. Centralize the setup and management of security domains. Instantiate infrastructure across sites in minutes from a single API in the cloud. And get instant access to new cloud-based features without onsite software updates.

Nebulon’s unique remote control of both data and boot volumes means you can handle failed boot drives, OS software failures, and even low-level server & storage firmware updates across all your edge locations without having to send someone on-site. And Nebulon Machine Images provide fast, templatized deployment & change management of servers, storage, and applications for all sites as easily as if it were a single site.


Challenge: Rising Costs

In any economic scenario, the cost of edge infrastructure is a key focus. In a struggling economy with record inflation, that focus for many organizations is a top IT initiative for 2023. Rising costs have always been a significant challenge at the edge. One reason is the limited real estate available for infrastructure at the edge, which often has space for no more than a couple of servers. Most HCI solutions require a minimum of three nodes and a network switch. There are HCI vendors that advertise a 2-node solution, but they require the customer to purchase a network switch, set up a quorum witness (QW) on another customer-provided server or instance in the cloud, then maintain it for each and every cluster/site on an ongoing basis. And because HCI overheads consume 25% of server resources for data services, customers are often forced to purchase more servers and software licenses than necessary, a massive cost for large edge deployments.

Solution: Reduce Edge Costs by 33%

More cost-effective edge infrastructure is possible when edge servers are modernized with a DPU-based data services offload (called an SPU or Services Processing Unit). The SPU offloads data services from the server CPU and memory, enabling more workloads per server and/or allowing lower-cost servers per edge site (as compared with HCI alternatives).

Other edge site cost savings are possible with Nebulon’s 2-node HA cluster featuring an automated quorum witness service in the cloud that requires no user setup, additional hardware or quorum VM’s to install and maintain. In addition, the 2-node cluster does not require the purchase of a 10/25G switch so the cost savings keep adding up!

To learn more about how Nebulon smartInfrastructure can help you modernize your edge infrastructure, click here.


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Craig Nunes


Previously 3PAR VP of Product & Marketing, then HPE VP of Global Storage Product Management & Marketing.