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How to Select a 100G Switch for Edge Computing?

Updated on Jul 23, 2022
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100G Network

Edge computing is a distributed compute topology where data is processed at the network's end and closer to the data source. The word "edge" refers to a place where devices like phones, industrial robots, laptops, and sensors access the rest of the network. Edge computing is gaining popularity thanks to the increased deployment of IoT devices and rapid adoption of digital transformation.

Most IoT devices, for instance, produce large volumes of data, which would require costly connections to the data centers and cloud. Not to mention that some data generated by IoT sensors are time-sensitive, requiring instant compute and feedback, e.g., when controlling pressure in refinery fields or in autonomous vehicles. Here, taking the compute workload closer to the data source makes economic sense.

As real-time applications become more prevalent, edge computing will continue to grow. There's now a need to solve edge computing challenges and introduce more robust edge computing components that can accommodate the growing capacity and demand. We have highlighted the edge computing challenges and how choosing the right 100GbE switch can solve some of them.

edge computing

 

Edge Computing Challenges and Their Solutions

Scale and Performance

Moving mission-critical data and applications to the Edge introduces scale and performance issues. Ideally, every remote edge location requires continuous monitoring to ensure every IT component, from servers to power and cooling components, is working optimally. Thanks to technology, it's possible to eliminate the need for human intervention in these remote locations. This can be done by deploying intelligent monitoring software that manages all the critical edge components.

Control and Security

The lack of physical control over the entire edge IT equipment could mean losing track of the system and its assets, especially when the network is unavailable or impacted. Another challenge is security, and the threat edge devices bring to the entire network. This can be mitigated with a comprehensive approach to data and network security.

Management and Network Visibility

Edge infrastructure diversity increases complexity as more custom edge locations are added. This creates fragmented visualization and edge equipment silos, resulting in increased labor demands, resource constraints, and more resolution time. A solution is to deploy a holistic technology that manages and processes data from various Edge locations to provide central management without creating domain silos.

An excellent first step to solving most of the edge computing challenges is being proactive and deliberate in choosing the various components that make up the edge devices, edge server, and network edge. This could mean choosing reliable 100 GbE networking products like switches and routers that offer speed advantage, backward compatibility, and more.

 

Choosing a 100G Switch for Your Edge Networking

An edge computing switch is a switching device located at the intersection of two networks. Edge switches connect end-user LANs to the ISP networks. These switching devices can be routing switches, routers, integrated access devices, multiplexers, etc. 100GbE Core-Edge switches deployed at the network edge provide high-bandwidth, line-rate switching, which boosts the functionality and reliability of your network.

Edge switches for Wide area networks (WANs) are multiservice; hence they support a wide range of communication technologies. They also provide enhanced services such as VPN support, VoIP, and quality of service (QoS). Both smart switches and unmanaged switches can be used at the network edge, but for security and downtime-sensitive applications, a managed switch is highly preferred.

edge computing

Below are the key factors to look for in an edge switch:

Performance

Before choosing a switch, evaluate the switch performance relative to your organization's needs. Take note of critical performance indicators such as the cost per GB/S of throughput, the throughput per watt, and price-per-port metrics to know if it's right for you.

Form Factor

Form factor refers to the switch's size, physical arrangement, or configuration. Switch form factors can be fixed, stackable, or modular. Most modern fixed-port switches have some modularity element and can work fine for your networking needs. But a 100GbE switch with a stackable or modular configuration could be your best pick for high-intensity applications. Over the years, modular edge compute architecture that is factory-built and delivered via a container has become quite common. The benefits of using these pre-engineered, ready-to-use systems are fast speed-to-market, reduced costs, and enhanced scalability.

Customizability

It’s always advisable to choose a switch that can be customized to suit the needs of the organization. One perfect example is a white box switch, which is an open network switch that runs on off-the-shelf chips. White-box switches are built on commodity hardware and use ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) from established vendors. What’s more important is that they run an open-network operating system (ONUS) that makes it possible to build a programmable, scalable, and more secure network with simplified and agile operations.

Automated Management and Configuration

Depending on your unique networking needs, switch management and configuration could be simple or complex. The number of devices in the network often contributes to the level of automation and management you will need. Some of the best switches allow for network automation, where you can streamline the configuration, testing, security provisioning, and management of network devices to help maximize system functionality and efficiency.

 

Summary

Edge computing has several benefits, from enhanced compute speed and bandwidth relief to improved data management, cost savings, and greater reliability. However, it's not without its shortcomings—scalability, management, and performance issues, which must be mitigated to maximize the possibilities of edge computing. You can better solve these problems by choosing the right Edge computing and networking devices. The right 100GbE Core-Edge, for instance, offers faster data transfer speeds, smart management capabilities, and more.

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