How should CIOs manage data at the edge?

The ubiquity of popular buzzwords or phrases in the technology community brings a certain kind of pressure. If everyone seems to be talking about the importance and transformative potential of an exciting new technology, then as a CIO it’s only natural to want to dive straight in and explore its potential use cases as soon as possible.

This is particularly true of businesses and edge computing. After all, edge implementation can deliver new experiences to the customer, help develop new products and open up new lines of revenue – why wouldn’t you want to get started as quickly as possible?

However, while no-one wants to stand in the way of transformative new technologies, CIOs have to bring clarity and common sense to the conversation – particularly on how edge implementation will affect a business’s security portfolio. The CIO must take a unified approach to data management when it comes to storage, security, and accessibility, ensuring that security is part of the conversation from the start and is given the same amount of attention from the business as all the exciting edge use cases.

Security centrality

Edge creates a whole new set of security challenges for CIOs, who are used to just dealing with the data centre. Under an edge setup, data is processed closer to the source, away from the centralised data centre that is more physically secure.

For CIOs, the task is to build a data management plan that will future-proof against edge expansion – allowing the business to scale up quickly while maintaining security and cost-efficiency

Because of this, it is imperative that CIOs build comprehensive security into any edge implementation proposal from the start. If security is bolted on after the business goals and ambitions of edge have been set, there will undoubtedly be trouble ahead.

The need for processing at the edge comes from the sheer amount of data generated as our connected world expands over the coming years – according to DataAge 2025, a report sponsored by Seagate and conducted by IDC, 90% of the data created in 2025 will require security protection. More data, of course, means more vulnerability – which is why security, with intelligent data storage and data-at-rest encryption at its foundation, has to be at the heart of any business’s edge computing plans. Couple this with the increased physical concerns – more locations means that there are more sites to keep secure – and it’s clear that this is a complex challenge that must be managed methodically. 

Plan for expansion

Implementing edge is all about driving business growth – the new customer experiences and revenue streams that come with it will mean that your business expands and becomes more complex. For CIOs, therefore, the task is to build a data management plan that will future-proof against edge expansion. This plan must allow the business to scale up quickly while maintaining security and cost-efficiency.

While driven by the particular needs of his or her organisation, a CIO’s edge computing strategy will also need to consider internal politics and agendas. A CIO might find themselves, for example, caught between the business’s OT teams – who will be looking for edge computing spend to help them bring powerful real-time analytics to the factory floor or their supply chain technology – and the IT best practices which are more likely to adopt a more cautious approach. CIOs will need to build a strategy that is flexible enough to handle expansion and can deal with the different priorities of different parts of the business, all while keeping a laser focus on security.

Embrace the benefits

However, the architecture inherent in mobile edge applications can make maintaining a tight security set-up easier. For one thing, storing data at the edge can help enterprises better manage their data from a compliance point of view.

A CIO’s edge computing strategy will also need to consider internal politics and agendas

Because edge allows you to avoid much of the data transfer between devices and the cloud, it is possible to filter sensitive information on the device and only transfer the essential data-model building information to the central data centre.

This makes it easier for enterprises to build the security and compliance framework to meet audits and new regulations.

The edge strategist

When it comes to edge implementation, CIOs need to be at the heart of the planning and rollout. Ultimately, they are responsible for the state and security of all the organisation’s data, and, as detailed in DataAge 2025, the data we all generate will increase exponentially in the coming yearsAs edge disperses that data across a wider area than ever before, the scope of the CIO role is only going to expand.

As we know, the role of the CIO is always an evolving one as technology changes and opens up new possibilities. While CIOs must tweak the way they work slightly and adapt to a world where data is more distributed, they have the opportunity to be at the heart of the growth of their business and make even more of an impact its future direction. in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.