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November 27, 2018   •   Ben Gabler

Serverless Edge Computing: Let’s Change Every Thing

 
 

Today, we announced the general availability of StackPath EdgeEngine™, a powerful computing service that lets developers run scripts serverlessly to execute behaviors at the edge. You can read the press release for more details.

While “serverless” has gotten pretty buzzy lately, most of what I’ve read is about which companies are developing serverless computing products. But to me the exciting thing about building new technology is seeing who uses it and how they use it—usually in ways we didn’t predict.

While we don’t know all the “whats” users will create with EdgeEngine, we see a lot of places we expect they’ll start. Here are just a few places and ways we know it can make a difference. From there, the sky’s the limit, and we can’t wait to see how far users will go. Serverless edge computing has the power to change every thing.

Fast-Growing Industries

Advertising Technology

Advertisers need the ability to add personalized advertisements to pages in a manner that doesn’t disrupt a user’s overall experience. EdgeEngine allows businesses to make localized decisions for individual users based on their geography, session information, user characteristics, etc., and inject appropriate advertising directly into websites’ responses to that user.

Media & Entertainment

Providers of images or video need to be able to personalize their responses to users and protect their media. These providers can use EdgeEngine to assemble video streams with personalized advertisements embedded, ensure all their images are served with a watermark, or make decisions about media size or quality based on device type, browser, and other factors.

Real-time Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT devices continue to come online at an astounding rate. As more of these become “real-time” devices, the ability to communicate with them and make quick decisions based on their data becomes more and more important. EdgeEngine allows businesses to make these real-time decisions. An example use case is device validation at the edge where IoT operations benefit from validating IoT data before it hits the origin.

API Platforms

Performance can determine whether or not an API is useful to its consumers, and therefore the success of its platform. APIs providing data like stock prices, or reacting to constantly changing conditions (e.g. online gaming), must react to queries as quickly as possible to satisfy their customers. Companies can use EdgeEngine to implement API responses to lower their time to users or aggregate queries in order to decrease the number of requests to their origin, saving them compute power on their server.

SaaS Companies

SaaS companies and online sellers consistently tweak their site to create the best online usage experience for their customers. Providing EdgeEngine allows them to perform A/B testing, create redirects to different parts of their site, or control bot traffic, all as requests come in real-time. This ability enables companies to have immediate visibility into the efficacy of changes they made, or direct traffic within or away from their site as business needs change.

People That Work Fast and Smart

Web Application Developers

We know developers. We are developers. Developers want to write code to meet functional requirements and create value, but do not want to have to worry about the process of deploying that code or the security implications of different deployment methods. Though some developers work at organizations with teams to take care of some of that process for them, many developers work alone or on small teams that simply do not have those resources, putting the deployment onus back on the developer. Developers also want to make their code performant, but know that factors outside of their control, e.g. network latency, can make even the fastest application appear slow to its end user on the web.

EdgeEngine solves the deployment, security, and performance concerns for developers by only requiring them to upload their own code, which is automatically deployed to the edge in an isolated runtime environment. Requiring only a code upload means developers do not need to spend time determining what their deployment environment will look like and maintaining it. StackPath maintains the infrastructure, giving developers more time to write functional code. Running that code in an isolated runtime environment at the edge means it’s safe from vulnerabilities introduced by other software, and away from any sensitive information, even if there was a compromise. Deploying at the edge allows a developer’s code to execute close to a user, removing many of the previously uncontrollable network factors that contribute to slow user experiences. Developers can even implement responses to API queries directly at the edge, making them fast and removing a round trip request from the origin server.

EdgeEngine allows developers to not only run their own customized code but run it in more places on the globe and on a network with more capacity than most, if not all, of our competitors in the serverless computing space. Deployment is simple through the StackPath customer portal and can be automated via our APIs.

Software Architects

Software architects need solutions that enable them to add functionality to their software systems without adding complexity, points of failure, or security vulnerabilities. They also need to add this ability in such a way that their system stays performant and flexible enough to react to new and changing business requirements.

EdgeEngine allows software architects to move functionality out of their data center, reducing the complexity of their infrastructure and its maintenance overhead. Moving functionality out of the data center also lowers the risk posture of the system, as code moved out of the firewall has less access to sensitive information that the organization holds. The fact that functionality is moved closer to end users on StackPath’s many POPs means that applications can execute and return responses to users much faster than if a user had to send requests all the way to origin data centers. StackPath’s extremely fast code deployment times and simple API interface also mean that the organization can remain fast and flexible enough to adapt to new requirements quickly and easily.

In addition to EdgeEngine, software architects can also take advantage of the many other industry-leading products available on the StackPath consolidated platform including CDN, WAF, DNS, and Monitoring.

Chief Technical Officers

CTOs are looking for ways to allow their companies to innovate while keeping costs down. Buying and managing infrastructure is a significant portion of that costs. Cloud compute providers exist that abstract some of that hardware and management overhead, but there is still significant management required of operating systems, application stacks, etc.

EdgeEngine allows CTOs to bring to their organization the ability to write arbitrary JavaScript code and execute it all over the world with zero overhead in server, operating system, or supporting application management. This means less operating cost, fewer security risks for the company to address themselves, and more productive and efficient development and devops teams. The ability to execute arbitrary JavaScript code means that the teams can continue to customize their applications to their business purpose without restrictions. The ability to execute code at the edge means customers get faster responses and a more customized experience, without the company incurring additional infrastructure expenses or deployment time.

EdgeEngine allows the CTO to run their own customized code all across the globe on a network with more capacity than most serverless computing providers, higher performance than most cloud providers, and more security than most cybersecurity providers.

Chief Security Officers

CSOs are concerned with the risk posture of their organizations. Key contributors to risk are software vulnerabilities, and their team’s ability to quickly mitigate new vulnerabilities. Because organizations frequently employ many different types of software across different types of infrastructure, it is difficult for security and operations teams to maintain visibility across and expertise in each component of their hardware and software stack. Though any part of the stack can introduce vulnerabilities, it is costly to create and maintain that visibility and expertise. If malicious actors are able to exploit one of those vulnerabilities, they will likely gain access to an individual application or server and then use it to gain access to rest of their virtual or physical data center.

EdgeEngine allows CSOs to simplify their security operations by removing the need for teams to constantly update their application stack’s software, and the costs that monitoring and patching incur, by removing the entire stack. StackPath updates and maintains the hardware, software, and network, so security teams only need to worry about the risk posture of the code that their own developers are writing. EdgeEngine also executes code at the edge of StackPath’s network, so even if a script were maliciously manipulated, it is outside of the corporate firewall and away from sensitive corporate resources.

EdgeEngine runs on the StackPath platform, allowing CSOs to take advantage of its added functionality as well as the other world-class security features such as WAF and DDoS protection. In addition, each script runs in its own isolated environment with separation from any other scripts.

EdgeEngine is Just the Beginning

EdgeEngine provides a number of benefits to a number of different industries and people – the power to customize workloads at the edge without the burden or overhead of managing infrastructure one of many. And we’re just getting started. Edge Engine is just the first in a number of edge computing solutions we have in the works, and an unprecedented opportunity for businesses to control how data and traffic is handled right up to the point it reaches their end users or right where it hits their workloads.

Learn more about StackPath EdgeEngine, and sign up today.

   
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