Disaster recovery at the edge doesn't need to be an impossible hurdle. Expand recovery and backup plans for edge devices and manage edge networks as they grow in order to protect your network and devices against unexpected disasters.
The massive proliferation of internet of things devices and the widespread adoption of edge computing means disaster recovery needs an update. Especially in the age of COVID-19, which presented an accelerated shift to cloud-based tooling and backup, organizations must protect these devices and environments with proper disaster recovery.
Back up and recover at the edge
Edge computing aims to achieve low latency for high-performance applications. Edge data centers must be located close to customers and their devices, which often equates to establishing smaller data centers near population centers rather than centralizing data in one large-scale, geographically distant storage facility. This enables organizations to deliver services with minimal latency.
Edge computing comes with a variety of benefits, from providing faster response times to freeing up bandwidth by reducing the flow of traffic to and from central servers. However, the distributed nature of its architecture introduces new challenges when it comes to backing up and recovering data. Traditional data center recovery plans aim to minimize data loss, but edge devices produce and capture so much data in real time that it can be difficult to back up much of it regularly.
Above all, edge computing disaster recovery plans should aim to get the network back up and running as quickly as possible. In other words, disaster recovery planning for edge data centers requires a focus on flexibility and more nimble resource provisioning rather than data backup alone.
How to approach edge backup and DR
Recover at the edge with one of several approaches. For example, back up essential or critical data from edge devices on the cloud. If the edge fails, essential data remains backed up and saved in the cloud. Plan for failovers in the event of a cloud data center outage.
However, edge data centers are designed to avoid sending data to the cloud to prevent bottlenecks and open bandwidth. Backing up to the cloud can almost defeat the purpose. Another approach is to transport data to another nearby edge data center. This approach has a smaller effect on your total data center operations, as the data remains at the edge.
The key to edge backup and recovery is proactive planning. Consider how to layer disaster recovery efforts and build redundancy across a geographically distributed network. Because edge data centers don't have a full on-site IT staff, ensure out-of-band management as an option so IT administrators can access devices remotely and provide visibility into the network from afar. This enables them to bypass failed equipment and get the network up and running again without being there in person.
Creating a resilient network helps organizations recover from a service disruption faster. Understand the minimum level of connectivity required to support your edge setup and the data lifecycles you must back up in the event of a disaster or failure.
Troubleshooting challenges with edge backup and recovery
Organizations often run into a few common challenges when building disaster recovery and backup at the edge, such as the following:
- Lack of on-site resources. Because edge data centers are typically smaller sites and not centralized in one location, they often lack a full on-site IT staff. Remote management software and compatible hardware enables you to provision IT resources and get the network and devices back up and running after a disaster.
- Recovery needs to be instant. Edge networks are designed to be operational 24/7, which means they require recovery as near to instantaneous as possible. In addition to layering a distributed architecture for data backups and recovery, use technologies and tools such as VMs, SD-WAN, SASE, 5G and even multiprotocol label switching to provide further redundancy.
- Complex configuration. Edge data centers are often part of a larger, more complex data infrastructure, along with traditional data centers, local storage facilities and cloud. Keep an eye on increasing complexity and focus on simplifying configuration. The faster you can set up and deploy your edge network and connected devices, the quicker you can return to normal and provision services after a disaster.
Use data protection platforms to help consolidate backup operations into one console and unify various data silos. These can help admins manage an entire backup environment, including individual data centers and edge devices themselves. They also provide analytics that deliver real-time monitoring to help anticipate failures before they happen.
The total cost of ownership and the risks of working with a third-party management system can often outweigh the hassle of designing an individual plan. Whatever the case, plan today to stay ahead of any disasters that might happen tomorrow. Think several steps ahead and test regularly to ensure systems work properly.