What Is Edge Networking and How Does It Relate to Edge Computing?

SaaS has introduced flexibility and innovation to countless industries and organizations around the globe. While the benefits of SaaS for end users are plentiful and obvious, the centralized nature of SaaS also solved a lot of problems for software providers who no longer have to deal with supporting software in 1000s of unique customer environments.

However, some SaaS providers in industries that rely on data residing in remote environments, like a customer data center, are struggling with connectivity challenges due to their dependence on legacy network infrastructure.

In an era of evermore complex IT ecosystems, connectivity into customer environments has become one of the top barriers to offering seamless SaaS deployments, low latency, and iron-clad network security — the trifecta for an optimal customer experience.

“IT infrastructures have evolved from supporting applications and workloads on-premises to supporting ‘everywhere infrastructure’ — in the cloud, at the edge, in data centers, or some combination. As this transformation continues, infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders must design for the unknown and ensure they are flexible enough to respond to rapid change,” assertsGartner’s Meghan Rimol.

Flexibility, however, is exactly where dated (and costly) network connectivity technologies like VPNs and MPLS fall short. Edge computing and edge networking are emerging as a more powerful solution to this problem.

How Edge Computing Is Helping SaaS

Enter edge computing. As the name suggests, edge computing enables the running of workloads and data analysis near the edge of the network (also known as the network edge). 

The network edge is the physical boundary of a private network. It is typically an endpoint that represents a local network or device’s interface with the internet: endpoints are typically branch offices; on-premise equipment; remote data centers; and even IoT devices.

Whereas the network edge is commonly referred to as part of an enterprise’s internal IT ecosystem, the distributed infrastructure necessary for edge computing are typically external.

By 2025, Gartner predicts 75% of enterprise-generated data will be processed outside of a traditional data center or cloud.

SaaS providers sourcing from, or servicing, external environments have begun to leverage edge computing as a way to improve the end user experience by moving some application components and services closer to the user. Their challenges arise as they attempt to move workloads away from the comfort of their centralized environments.

What Is Edge Networking?

Edge networking is a collection of multiple technologies that support connectivity for edge locations, edge devices, and/or edge computing, according to Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Enterprise Networking, 2022. 

Edge networking can be used to support both internal and external networking use cases. As more workloads and data have been pushed to the edge, it helps address the specific latency, bandwidth, and security issues that cloud and data center environments are not optimized for.

Edge networking technologies include:

  • Edge LAN for handling local connectivity within an edge location.
  • Edge WAN for processing ingress and egress connectivity to the edge location.
  • Edge Networking functions that provide additional network services like load balancing and firewall with the added capability of addressing edge compute requirements

But optimizing edge computing and connecting to edge locations is not the only promise of edge networking. Some edge networking solutions are also the being used to enable more efficient security architectures such as SASE.

What Are Some of the Advantages of Edge Networking?

Connectivity

Edge networking platforms solve many of the hybrid-cloud connectivity challenges SaaS application providers experience when connecting to customer-controlled environments with VPNs, MPLS, and even APIs.

These connectivity approaches often hinder SaaS providers from connecting to customer data in difficult-to-reach locations, with varying degrees of security. This is because they were never designed to handle the needs of multi-tenanted applications. As a result, these connections become vastly more complex when applications are moved to the cloud and used across 100s of unique customers.

Management

VPNs and MPLS often require advanced, on-site networking skills to implement and manage, which decreases the speed of new customer deployments while increasing operating costs and complexity. 

A modern edge networking platform designed for cloud to on-prem environments can reduce new site deployment times to hours (instead of weeks), centralize and automate management, and lower the total cost of connectivity by as much as 50%.

Security

Wouldn’t moving end points away from the protective physical access and network security of the data center render them more vulnerable to cyber-attacks? It can. But such risk can be avoided by using strict network policies, access control, and monitoring. Centralizing the control of edge configuration and establishing audit procedures to control application and data changes at the edge.

Another best practice? Building networks that only allow traffic from known applications and users while obfuscating the network from all other types of traffic. This Zero Trust private-network is the most secure approach to connectivity and not only prevents network attacks from outside threats, but limits the blast radius of a breach should one occur.

Edge Networking Use Cases

Enterprise and service provider spending on hardware, software, and services for edge solutions will jump nearly 15% in 2022 and reach nearly $274 billion by 2025, projects the International Data Corporation (IDC).

What’s driving such widespread adoption? Distributed data sources, the demands for interoperability between every environment, and…  the need for speed.

Edge computing and edge networking enabled architectures are ideal for SaaS providers offering latency-sensitive applications that need some services to run at the edge instead of hauling everything up to the public cloud for processing. 

Hardware producing large files at the edge (e.g. imaging equipment, video, streaming sensor data) is another prime candidate for edge networking, as backhauling that data to the cloud would be both slow and expensive.

Given the power of edge networking to transfer copious amounts of data rapidly and securely, it’s no surprise that the technology has become the go-to for the healthtech, fintech, retail, and manufacturing industries. Other applications operating “on the edge” include:

  • Autonomous vehicles
  • Smart grid and smart cities
  • Predictive maintenance of industrial equipment
  • Medical device and imaging
  • Audio visual systems

Level Up Your Connectivity and Security with Trustgrid

Trustgrid’s edge networking platform integrates elements of Software-Defined WAN, Zero Trust remote network access (ZTNA),AND edge computing. Trustgrid customers use this unique combination of technologies to build and manage edge networks between any application, location, or end user. And the platform’s edge computing elements can also be used to centrally manage 3rd-party security services running at the network edge. 

SaaS providers choose Trustgrid to securely connect to customer data in any environment — whether in the cloud or on-premise. 

Request your free trial today to see how Trustgrid’s edge networking platform can streamline deployment, maintenance and support of your customer-facing networks.