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Edge Resiliency by Mark Wilkins, Gary Sloper

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Chapter 1. Edge Resiliency Is Critical to Your Business

In today’s 24/7 global business environments, resiliency is not only an assumption by your customers, it’s a requirement for your success. Simply defined, IT resilience is an organization’s ability to maintain acceptable service levels, no matter what challenges arise. From CTOs to networking IT staff, the threats and challenges to services that live at the edge of the network—including both the user edge and the site edge—pose the potential for unplanned and certainly unwanted business disruptions.

To understand the implications and solutions of resiliency at the edge, we first need to understand what the term “edge” really means here. In reality, there are multiple edges. The user edge is where the end user sits and first interacts with the internet. The network edge is in front of the content or service that the user is trying to reach (think transit, content delivery network [CDN], domain name system [DNS], and so forth). The site edge is typically at the datacenter or cloud infrastructure where the content or service resides. Your goal is to get control as close to the user edge as possible.

Sources that trigger instability for the myriad internet services that today’s enterprises depend on range from simple misconfigurations, to large-scale natural disasters, to nefarious targeted attacks, as well as business-driven internet routing decisions to meet traffic and sovereignty requirements. The user edge is your customers’ first (and possibly only) interaction with the application or service that they’re trying to access. It’s where impressions are made—or fail. Traditionally, companies have focused on the user experience as they interacted in expected, or unexpected, ways across the network. However, just as important, each edge location can also be a portal for instability and threats. These can come from unintentional side effects such as attempts to meet high-traffic requirements, physical infrastructure challenges (e.g., from a natural disaster), or deliberate attacks from bad actors.

The simple reality is that if your company relies on cloud-hosted applications, which more and more are these days, internet volatility now has a greater impact on your business than at any given time in the past. The large numbers of medium-to-large enterprises that have been moving into hybrid and multicloud implementations only magnifies the scope and likelihood of an impact.

For the past few years, medium- to large-sized enterprises have been transitioning away from doing everything in-house to using hosting providers to support a sophisticated global presence. This is a natural evolution as organizations scale, so this book will touch on the due diligence they need to perform; the problems they might encounter; and what they can do to optimize their performance, security posture, balance workloads, and steer traffic more efficiently in a hybrid cloud or multicloud environment.

The shift from hosting corporate applications on-premises to using cloud-based service providers is an accepted practice for doing business today. And, like any key corporate resource, companies need to safeguard and protect it. Network resiliency (especially at the user edge) is your insurance policy against internet-based disruptions.

Additionally, more organizations have begun to deploy multicloud environments using additional vendors or a private infrastructure to support their businesses. This dynamic will continue to grow, taking advantage of diversity and performance-based cloud services.

Granted, when you depend on internet services that are a “black box,” some aspects will be out of your direct control. In those areas, your business must rely somewhat on trust—trust in those who have constructed today’s complex internet, trust in the partners you work with, and trust that the infrastructure you’ve invested in will mostly work reliably and appropriately. However, trust is not a strategy: 24/7 global businesses face new exposures each day. To combat these challenges, businesses must take responsibility for resiliency. In this way, they can gain direct control to insure against the risks. And it all starts by understanding the approaches that you can take to accomplish this goal.

What You Will Learn

In the remaining chapters, we discuss these approaches and offer insight and strategies for creating resiliency at the edge. The goal is to stabilize internet volatility, whatever the source. The critical topics we cover include the following:

  • Recognizing volatility sources

  • Optimizing performance and balancing workloads amid internet volatility

  • Steering traffic more efficiently

  • Strengthening your security posture—not just in a traditional datacenter, but also in a hybrid and/or multicloud environment

  • Working with DNS infrastructure, managed DNS, and edge services

We discuss common challenges and present clear examples to demonstrate the benefits of using managed DNS infrastructure to strengthen edge resiliency. And we offer assessment criteria for when you are deciding whether to incorporate a managed DNS provider into your resiliency strategy. This, will, in turn, provide options and strengthen your ability to manage, challenge, and work around any internet threats, disruption, or volatility.

Intended Book Audience

We wrote this book for IT managers to help them proactively enable a resiliency strategy in the face of planned and unplanned events from the user edge to the applications and services those users are trying to reach. Our goal is to help you prevent challenges that could have a negative impact on customer satisfaction and business outcomes. Business leaders must be aware and plan for these challenges before they happen, because today, our customers, our employees, and our reputations are all “living on the edge.”

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