Today, at the HPE Discover event in London, I was privileged to participate on a panel that was intriguingly entitled “The Promise and Perils of IoT”.

One of my fellow panelists was Dr. Tom Bradicich, the esteemed VP & GM, Servers &  IoT Systems at HPE. A day earlier, I had watched Dr. Tom present a compelling Industrial IoT use case that resonated with our joint vision that “edge” computing – where data is collected, aggregated, stored and consumed securely in situ – is going to rapidly arise as a key architectural pattern for many IoT deployments.

I’ve thought long and hard about this emerging construct over the last several months and today’s panel proved to be a great opportunity for me to “test out” my theory of micro-centralization.

Historically, and as has certainly been the case in the last few years, organizations have sought to centralize their applications and data, often factoring virtual desktops and virtualized applications into that equation to “bring the desktop, the application, the middleware and the database” into a central data center location for reasons that span performance, security, and manageability.

This is a perfectly reasonable and practical approach for existing applications and for the devices that access them, but if we consider one of the key promises of IoT, it is the proliferation of new types of devices and the data that they generate that offers the best potential return.

In this new world of IoT, it’s increasingly clear that the “edge” becomes much more important than just being a point of network connectivity – it becomes a point of capture, processing and access – a smaller subset of the central data center, with the requirement to serve multiple needs via multiple mixed workloads.

As devices become increasingly connected and data becomes increasingly generated, a new, more flexible approach to delivering the services that wrap around this is required. I like to think of micro-centralization as more than just a theory. It’s an agile set of solutions that can enable this new approach. Applications and data will continue to be served from a centralized data center, and from public cloud providers, for years to come.

But it’s when we augment these with the agility and speed of an edge-based platform that we’ll see some amazing results.

Combining the power, performance and simplicity of HPE’s Edgeline Server series with the flexibility, security and user experience of Citrix XenApp, XenDesktop, Netscaler, and Octoblu can readily bring this new opportunity to any organization with a need to collect, aggregate, store, and consume data close to where the source resides.

So, that’s some of the promise – now what about the perils?

During the panel – as one might imagine given the title – we covered a wide range of topics and answered some searching questions from the audience relating to the moral questions of IoT-generated data from devices that track our critical health characteristics – heart rate, blood pressure, etc. This is an emotive topic, yet it is very much addressable with a practical approach to ensuring compliance, as well as security.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an IoT panel session – and it wouldn’t be one that focused on perils – without discussing the concerns around security as a key topic. This is clearly a huge area and hot topic and one that can be mitigated by following a series of practical steps to think about IoT devices and associated data as two separate things – the infrastructure and the payload. Securing this, end-to-end, requires some new thinking and also plays well into the edge concept.

The traditional security perimeter of the centralized data center is constantly being challenged. The perimeter is not disappearing, it is shrinking and multiplying. Software-defined perimeters allow flexibility to “ringfence” single or groups of IoT devices to minimize overall exposure, and using new techniques for analyzing, learning and automatically reacting to anti-patterns in device communications can help provide an adaptive security posture.

The software-defined perimeter can easily be integrated into the overall edge infrastructure, adding a further dimension to the overall value proposition.

The industry is just getting started with IoT, but at Citrix, we’re already thinking about how partnerships such as the one we have with HPE, can be leveraged to provide some amazing solutions for our joint customers to help them on their Digital Transformation journeys.

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