This is Part 3 in a series exploring the Equinix approach to digital experiences at the edge:
Today’s digital leaders understand the importance of shifting their operations to the edge. Strategically deploying digital infrastructure in proximity to major population centers—where the highest concentrations of end users and devices are—helps ensure consistent, low-latency connectivity between consumers and applications. In turn, this enables the exceptional digital experiences today’s empowered users demand.
We’ve talked in previous blog posts about the importance of building edge infrastructure that’s designed for optimized user experience and powered by real-time intelligence. However, meeting these requirements won’t count for much if a business puts its customers and digital assets at risk to do so. As businesses plan to implement last-mile networking that connects end users to services at the edge, they must be careful to apply security controls alongside those networking services.
In this blog post, we’ll examine why a secure edge environment plays such an integral role in ensuring an optimized user experience, including what’s at stake if businesses fail to properly protect their users and applications from cyberthreats.
Why secure edge matters for digital experience
As businesses look to deploy infrastructure at the edge, they don’t always account for what this shift means for their cybersecurity profile.
With more connections to more users and devices in more places, today’s businesses logically have a much larger attack surface to worry about than their predecessors did. The days of organizations building a traditional security perimeter—with attackers on one side of the wall and IT infrastructure safely on the other—are long gone. Businesses are interacting with end users everywhere, which means they also need secure access controls everywhere.
Cybersecurity attacks are devastating to a business’ bottom line. It may be hard to quantify this reputational damage in terms of dollars and cents, but it’s certainly real, and it’s likely to take years to undo. For example, ransomware and DDoS attacks can prevent end users from accessing vital services when they need them, while data leaks can disrupt their lives by putting their sensitive personal data at risk.
Regardless of the exact nature of the security exploit, the takeaway will be that the company failed at maintaining integrity, making clients less likely to choose that company again in the future.
Digital leaders must also ensure the flexibility to expand their secure edge to meet ever-changing business needs. For example, emerging technologies such as AI may require businesses to collect, transfer and store more data at the edge, thus leading them to grow their secure edge environments. They may also need to expand their secure edge environments into emerging markets, which will offer some of the most promising expansion opportunities for digital businesses going forward.
Use case: Distributed SASE to support remote and hybrid workforces
A great digital experience must account for both customers and employees. After all, satisfied employees are engaged and empowered to serve customers better, so it makes sense that optimizing the employee experience is often the first step toward optimizing the customer experience.
In our post-pandemic reality, it’s clear that a return to the in-office status quo is unlikely. Despite several high-profile instances of companies attempting return-to-office initiatives, remote and hybrid work seem to be here to stay. Companies that fully embrace this fact could gain a competitive advantage, as it may be easier for them to find and retain great talent.
However, the shift may also create security concerns these companies aren’t fully prepared to address. To enable remote and hybrid workers in many different locations throughout the world, businesses need to offer those employees on-demand access to critical business data, applications and services via the corporate WAN. This demand underscores the importance of building a secure edge environment for employee experience.
Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) technology allows businesses to shift their security checkpoints from traditional centralized data centers to distributed regional locations—in a word, to the edge. By bringing together modernized SD-WAN capabilities with advanced security offerings such as Firewall as a Service (FWaaS), SASE architecture also features a zero-trust security model. This means that each user or device that connects to corporate assets is assumed to be untrusted until validated.
With SASE capabilities in place, businesses can support thousands of remote and hybrid workers, wherever they are in the world. The workers get the kind of user experience they expect, with uninterrupted access to the tools they need to be successful from wherever they prefer to work. At the same time, the business can protect itself against DDoS attacks, data leaks and other security issues.
Why Platform Equinix for secure edge?
Digital infrastructure is growing fastest at the edge because that’s where the most promising opportunities are; opportunities to get closer to users, apply data-driven insights and deliver exceptional digital experiences. However, savvy digital leaders know that capitalizing on these opportunities doesn’t require putting themselves or their end users at risk.
Using Platform Equinix® and services from our partner ecosystem, digital leaders have successfully deployed secure hubs in strategic edge locations worldwide, while simultaneously reducing costs and keeping productivity high. We help them achieve these things via the following benefits:
There are 250+ Equinix IBX® data centers spread across 70+ metros on six continents. This means that no matter where your digital edge may be, you can deploy the infrastructure and services you need locally.
All Equinix facilities offer five levels of physical security to protect against unauthorized access to customer equipment. This makes them an integral part of any secure edge environment.
Interconnection on demand
Many of the Equinix metros mentioned above offer Equinix Fabric® availability. Equinix Fabric is our software-defined interconnection solution. It provides the flexibility for customers to set new virtual connections to thousands of cloud and SaaS providers in minutes, and then dynamically scale those connections as their business needs change. With network agility empowered by Equinix Fabric, enterprises can connect all the different digital infrastructure components and partner services that make up their global digital edge environment.
To build a secure edge, enterprises must bring together networking and security capabilities in the same locations. Equinix is a leading interconnection partner for a wide variety of global service providers, including the names behind some of the premier security services on the market today. One example of a partnership that delivers a unique blend of networking and security capabilities for our joint customers is our partnership with Cisco.
About 70% of the devices connected to Equinix Fabric are Cisco devices. These devices are deployed in 34+ strategic locations throughout the globe, helping bring secure networking capabilities closer to end users and ensure low-latency connectivity. Cisco SD-WAN Enabled Performance Hub and Equinix help customers connect directly and transform their WAN for the cloud era. They’re able to deploy the tightly integrated solutions they need to connect securely in locations throughout the world.
More edge insights from Gartner
The Gartner® report 5 Top Practices of Successful Edge Computing Implementers provides more details about why digital businesses need an edge strategy, and what an effective edge strategy looks like. According to the report, “Governance and security not in line with enterprise standards” is one challenge that can arise as a result of not having a centralized edge strategy. Read the Gartner report to learn more.
Also, visit our digital experience landing page to learn more about why the right edge infrastructure and strategy are essential to meeting user expectations.
 Gartner, 5 Top Practices of Successful Edge Computing Implementers, Bob Gill, Mohini Dukes, Ajeeta Malhotra, February 28, 2023.
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