In today’s digital landscape, enterprises are increasingly looking to deliver applications closer to end users or client devices in IoT use cases, aiming to minimize latency, reduce the backhaul of high-fidelity edge data, and enhance overall customer experience. This shift is driving migration of front-end (customer-facing) applications from traditional datacenters and public clouds to the edge, where client requests can be processed locally.
Additionally, enterprises in verticals like retail and manufacturing are increasingly deploying AI/ML applications at edge sites to help with supply chain optimization, worker safety, and preventive maintenance. Meanwhile, core applications and non-real-time apps remain in the cloud. This change is driven by modern containerized apps. These apps demand the deployment of Kubernetes at the edge to provide an app hosting platform. Other primary concerns, in addition to hosting, include ensuring client-side security and establishing secure connectivity back to the cloud or datacenter.
Edge use cases are very diverse, but a central theme is the need for apps to be deployed securely and efficiently, while still balancing latency, capacity, and physical location constraints. Some examples are:
Smart ticketing kiosks at railway stations, terminals to order food at drive-throughs, and bank ATMs that interact directly with human clients.
AI-powered surveillance systems in manufacturing assembly lines for preventive maintenance and worker safety, sensor data logging edges in industrial or smart home applications.
Mobile edge setups in delivery vehicles.
In-flight entertainment systems.
When apps are moved from traditional hosting environments like public cloud or on-premises datacenters to the edge, several challenges may arise which can slow down deployment:
Managing Multiple Kubernetes Clusters: Enterprises deploy anywhere from hundreds to thousands of edge sites, which increases the operational complexity and attack surface, and slows down deployment velocity. Managing multiple clusters requires a simplified solution for provisioning, managing, and upgrading clusters at scale.
Streamlining Application Management: Multi-cluster architectures demand versatile app deployment strategies. A central management system is crucial for deploying, monitoring, and updating applications across distributed Kubernetes clusters.
Ensuring Robust Security: IoT endpoints are inherently insecure, and user terminals are vulnerable to hacking if physical security is compromised. To protect these endpoints, edge solutions must integrate features like Web Application Firewall (WAF), Bot detection, API protection, DDoS mitigation, and Zero Trust strategies to securely deliver applications.
Establishing Secure Connectivity: Whether over private networks or public internet, encrypted connections between edge locations and central applications are vital. Networks also need centralized policy management and enforcement across all edge and cloud sites to ensure a robust edge security posture.
Ensuring Reliability and Resiliency: Edge locations may not have the best internet connectivity, are often bandwidth-limited, and are susceptible to connection drops. Mobile edges, connecting over wireless 4G or 5G networks, may suffer connection loss as the vehicle moves through radio shadow regions in dense urban environments. Edge locations must continue operations despite potential network disruptions, as resilience against intermittent connectivity loss is essential for business continuity.
Infrastructure Agnostic: Edge computing solutions must be adaptable and work seamlessly across various ecosystems—including public clouds, colocation sites, and branch locations.
While enterprises can assemble solutions using a broad array of open source or paid software, manual networking setup becomes more and more difficult as scale increases. This approach also introduces security risks and can be cost-prohibitive for a business to sustain in the long run.
Enterprises require a centralized solution that addresses these challenges, streamlining day-to-day operations while ensuring affordability and robust security. A comprehensive edge computing platform empowers businesses to focus their investments on building and enhancing their applications, confident in the seamless, secure, and cost-effective operation of their edge infrastructure.
F5 Distributed Cloud Services are the ideal solution for enterprises who need seamless edge deployments and need help overcoming the challenges of modern application delivery. Distributed Cloud Services offer a suite of SaaS-managed products and services designed to simplify edge deployment, accelerate application delivery, and fortify deployments with enterprise-grade security.
At the core of Distributed Cloud Services lies Distributed Cloud App Stack, a powerful solution enabling managed Kubernetes for application hosting and mesh networking services. This advanced platform simplifies the complexities of edge computing, providing enterprises with:
Managed Kubernetes: Distributed Cloud App Stack manages the Kubernetes platform, offering a central console for monitoring, upgrading, and conducting various day-to-day operations across clusters. This streamlined management ensures optimal performance across diverse edge environments.
AI Workload Support: Distributed Cloud App Stack offers GPU support for running AI workloads requiring parallel processing, empowering businesses to leverage cutting-edge technologies without limitations.
Offline Survivability: Distributed Cloud App Stack clusters operate seamlessly even in the face of intermittent network connectivity issues, ensuring zero downtime and uninterrupted service delivery.
Virtual Kubernetes (vK8s) is a revolutionary approach to managing clusters. It allows enterprises to group application namespaces across numerous Distributed Cloud App Stack clusters into a virtual Kubernetes cluster. This consolidation simplifies deployment complexities:
Unified API Endpoint: RBAC policies empower platform administrators to provide the required application teams access to the vK8s cluster through a single API endpoint. This unified interface streamlines deployment procedures and enhances collaboration.
Effortless Scalability: App developers can deploy applications across thousands of edge clusters with ease, mirroring the simplicity of deploying to a single cluster. The vK8s endpoint seamlessly replicates applications to all clusters, ensuring consistent application performance and health.
Distributed Cloud App Connect enables seamless service discovery and application delivery within the Distributed Cloud ecosystem. Distributed Cloud App Connect creates a cross-cluster service mesh, allowing edge applications to securely access remote services as if they were local resources. This enables seamless connectivity while reducing the attack surface of the application.
F5’s global network backbone and Regional Edge (RE) Points of Presence (PoPs) ensure:
Low Latency Private Transport: The F5 global network backbone, coupled with RE PoPs, provides a low-latency private transport system for inter-site traffic.
Integrated Security Services: REs offer integrated application security services such as WAF, DDoS and Bot protection, API protection, and encryption. This comprehensive security suite safeguards edge applications and data from potential threats, ensuring robust protection against cyber risks.
Simplified Deployment: REs can be grouped into vK8s, enabling users to deploy applications on F5’s PoPs without the need to establish their own edge sites. This accelerates deployment timelines and reduces the operational burden on enterprises.
Distributed Cloud Services empower enterprises to overcome the challenges of modern edge deployments, ensuring agility, security, and unparalleled efficiency in the rapidly evolving digital landscape. With Distributed Cloud Services, businesses can confidently embrace edge computing, concentrating their efforts on innovation while Distributed Cloud Services handle the complexities of managing edge infrastructure, application hosting, networking, and security.