MSPs should look to gateways at the network edge for big opportunity

Posted by Mike Vizard on Jan 24, 2017 11:10:57 AM

network edge.jpegHope may spring eternal, but when it comes to IT security it seems organizations are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. A new survey of 593 IT and security professionals conducted by The Ponemon Institute on behalf of IBM and Arxan Technologies, a provider of tools for securing mobile data, finds that just 20 percent of the applications deployed in an Internet of Things (IoT) environment have been tested for vulnerabilities. In comparison, 29 percent of mobile applications have been tested.

Obviously, security creates significant new opportunities for managed service providers. But many of those MSPs are about to discover that IoT and mobile applications are instances of distributed computing deployed at levels of unprecedented scale. Connecting millions of endpoints directly to a data center simply isn’t feasible. The amount of data that would wind up being transferred across wide area network (WANs) would be too large to manage, not to mention prohibitively expensive to transfer.

Instead, organizations that embrace mobile and IoT projects are increasingly pushing more application code out to the edge of their networks. That approach not only reduces the amount of data moving across the network; it provides the crucial benefit of reducing application latency.

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For example, providers of modern mobile applications will want to be able to move application code to the gateway that is closest to the endpoint consuming their service to provide the highest levels of interactivity possible.

Similarly, IoT environments will need to deploy analytics applications at the network edge. Those applications will collect data from thousands of sensors, and that data will in turn be used to programmatically adjust the IoT environment in real time.

Security and backup opportunities

The issue many of these organizations are about to discover is that the applications and data running at the edge of their networks need to be secured and protected. That means being able to protect data from cyberattacks and back that data up so it can be restored in the event a gateway fails. In IoT environments especially, the probability is high that a gateway built out of “white box” components will fail for one reason or another.

Based on the survey data gathered by Ponemon Institute, it appears many organizations are once again rushing to deploy code without considering the security implications. That should create significant demand for managed services that overlay security and data protection on top of the gateways being deployed at the edge of networks in ever increasing numbers.

The upside of all this is that the scale of the MSP opportunity is no longer strictly limited to the number of devices a limited pool of employees might be trying to attach to a corporate network. Organizations of all sizes are building mobile applications to get closer to their customers, and the number of sensors that might be attached to IoT gateways is virtually limitless.

The challenge MSPs will face is coping with the scale at which those gateways and associated endpoints will be deployed. By comparison, managing a few hundred endpoints attached to a few servers in a local data center is mere child’s play.

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Topics: IT Services Trends

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