As the world sees the distribution of billions of smart devices, and literally trillions of new sensors, the current computing paradigms will struggle to meet the needs of new applications in such an environment.

Edge computing is emerging as part of the solution. In the edge computing model, programming and analysis are pushed out to the device (at the edge) rather than sent back to a cloud to a core data center for processing or analysis.

Indeed, according to industry analysts Gartner, by 2025 almost three-quarters of the world’s data and analytics will be processed beyond the cloud or the data center, and instead out at the edge.

On the upside, there is a vast new world of capability and data for businesses to exploit and analyse. But there’s a sting in the tail. All those new points on the network are also new cybersecurity vulnerabilities, yet the current approaches to securing the corporate systems are inadequate for the task ahead, say senior Hitachi Vantara executives. (See below.)

According to Hitachi Vantara’s Brad Surak, chief product and strategy officer, edge commuting is now a business imperative, “Modern digital business requires us to move our data and analytics closer to the people, closer to the things, closer to the immersive experiences out of the edge of the network.”

Brad Surak, chief product and strategy officer, Hitachi Vantara

He made his comments on the opening day of Hitachi Vantara’s Next 2019 conference in Las Vegas.

Surak told delegates, “If you can get that right, you’re going to see huge advantages innovation opportunities with your digital business.”

He said smart products are emerging in nearly every industry today, and despite having started in the consumer world they are migrating rapidly to the industrial internet.

“It’s the edge that is opening up all these new opportunities to capture, analyze, and monetize your data. And it constitutes an entirely new line of business,  a very valuable line of business for most companies. Data monetization via smart products operates via new business models.”

Surak stressed that as with cloud computing the edge is not a single place.

“You should think of the edge as a continuum. It means there’s no single answer for your business or for your architecture. It consists of small embedded devices and smart products, gateways, servers, hyper-converged racks, all the way to micro clouds.”

It incorporates remote facilities where people work, factories where products are manufactured, and it can be at a multitude of distributed IoT devices all of which are all streaming data and need to be analyzed in real-time, he said.

Hitachi Vantara’s answer to the problem of how to tame this environment is a set of products under the Lumada brand.

“Lumada Edge Intelligence 3.0 provides capabilities for local data operations, machine learning, streaming analytics, and analytic applications,” according to Surak.

It is a set of pre configures hardware and software combinations for tackling problems such as data integration, application management, and even AI at the edge.

“Lumada Edge Intelligence is a part of a growing family of products underneath the Lumada portfolio, which is all about turning data into insights. IoT is a critical part of that portfolio and what Lumada does.  We believe IoT shouldn’t be a separate silo for your data or your applications.”

Surak said, “Once you’ve got an agile core-to-edge-to-cloud digital business architecture, you’re ready to focus on digital solutions to drive that digital transformation for your business.”

But, and it’s a serious but…

When Which-50 interviewed Surak after his presentation he cheerfully acknowledged that much work still needs to be done to ensure the right global infrastructure is in place to support edge computing, with cybersecurity a particular concern.

Asked whether the current cybersecurity paradigm pursued by the IT industry generally is the right one to protect systems and data in the future, Surak told Which-50, “No, it’s certainly not the right model. It’s a model designed for the current or previous architectural generations, right. And with every new generation of architecture, you expose more vulnerabilities. You find things that you didn’t conceive of, so I think we have to rethink it completely.”

Cybersecurity today involves dozens and often hundreds of point solutions and Surak said the future would require more of a consortia approach.

“That’s the right approach because we all are dealing with this challenge. It [security] has to be built into the equipment, down to the chip level and then at every other layer.”

Herd immunity

And rather than just planning to keep attackers out, you have to plan for how to contain an attack that’s been successful, and then have multiple layers of defence deployed to prevent it from disrupting the system.

In the emerging world of the internet of things with literally a trillion connected devices, Surak said a smart response would be to develop a herd immunity across all those devices, where they are able to share that an attack is occurring and share the pattern of that attack so the threat can be inoculated against before it spreads.

“But if we’re all too walled off, or we have too many silos of data, then you can’t get that information accurately or real-time.”

“So I think there’s going to be innovation at all the different levels, but ultimately, we’re going to have more of an immune system approach. We have to figure out how to collaborate within a company and across in an ecosystem, in a way that protects everyone,” he said.

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