CES 2020: A Look at Improving IoT at the Edge of the Cloud

Moderated by Deloitte Consulting chief cloud strategy officer David Linthicum, a group of experts gathered at CES to address the issues surrounding IoT at the edge of the cloud. Linthicum asked panelists what they think the big announcements of CES 2020 will be. Sikorsky Innovations flight control technical lead Derek Geiger echoed many of them when he said, “I don’t think there will be one major announcement.” “It will be little pieces of technology coming together,” he said. “It won’t be one company solving the problem.”

For Deloitte Consulting chief futurist Robert Schmid (below right, with Geiger), the fact that edge is being discussed is the big announcement. “It’s similar to how I felt when we first started talking about the cloud,” he said. “It’s a big leap. We’ll suddenly have compute so close to do so many things.”

Flex president of communication, enterprise and cloud Raejeanne Skillern enthused about the number of products that will benefit from edge computing, and VMware industry managing director in the office of the CTO Ed Whitty pinpointed mobility as a “key area.”

The conversation then turned quickly to the lack of security models — or even no security — and different encryption systems. “We’ll be putting IP on the edge, not just data,” noted Schmid. “The question going forward won’t be just about protecting data but also IP. I have to trust my ecosystem partners — and that’s big.”

The group agreed that standards and best practices for edge computing are largely missing. “If you have vulnerabilities, you have to have a way to oversee it,” said VMware’s Whitty, reporting that his company built “a software virtualization layer for the edge, to contain [malware] from spreading through edge computing into the cloud.”

Skillern (above) pointed out that edge devices and infrastructure can include telephone poles, homes and factories. “Security can mean many different things,” she said. “Security has to be built into infrastructure, hardware, software but also allow for physical control.” Linthicum noted that, “common security layers don’t exist. “ “We’re not thinking strategically,” he said.

Whitty noted some of the potential nightmare scenarios. “If you have a headset, you don’t want your IP on it if it goes missing,” he said. “Moving from edge to data center to cloud, you need lots of security.”

Panelists also noted that another major problem is the number of silos and proprietary solutions. “Many of those systems don’t allow you to move your data around,” added Geiger. “We all have a shared responsibility for security as we move into critical IoT. It will be a challenge if everything is online and we’re not serious about cybersecurity.”

Schmid agreed that, “people cringe because they don’t want their mobile devices to be managed by the same system as yours.” But he noted the opportunities for someone to create a standardized system that everyone adopts. “That will enable updates to these millions of devices and establish trust with all of them,” he said. “There are plenty of use cases that can’t wait for the cloud. The edge will grow itself because it’s something we need, and there’s an opportunity for fundamental collaboration with edge devices.”