Say Hello to the Edge

Why smart monitoring matters in today’s increasingly complex ecosystem

What is the network edge?
Eileen Haggerty

The adoption of edge computing is exploding. A recent market report predicts spending on edge computing will reach nearly $11 billion by 2026, representing an increase of 29.4 percent over a six-year period starting in 2020. A growing number of enterprises are embracing next-gen infrastructures to meet evolving needs. Such infrastructures are more aptly described as an ecosystem of different environments—from multiple cloud services to data centers.

As a result of these complex environments, IT faces the challenge of having to monitor and manage a rapidly expanding number of edges. Each of those edges holds the potential of becoming a roadblock that impedes everything from a remote worker’s productivity to the experience of an online shopper. For this reason, it is important for IT to gain a better understanding of the edge and resulting visibility challenges.

There are three general location types in today’s complex networks: client, network, and data center/cloud service edges. It is worth noting that these three edges share a common characteristic in that traffic is altered as it crosses domains between them. So, for instance, when traffic goes from wireless to wired connections, or LAN to WAN, or ISP to co-lo, co-lo to cloud, or cloud to server workload, a change occurs at each edge, creating a possible gap in visibility.

Let’s take a closer look at each type of edge. 

What is the Client Edge?
The client edge is essentially where the end user connects to the network via shared infrastructure to access specific services. This might occur in a remote branch office, a home office, a contact center, or within a business’ headquarters. Other types of workers might require connectivity to a hospital or other type of medical facility, a manufacturing plant or factory, or perhaps a warehouse or distribution center. The client edge is essentially wherever the end user is. 

What is the Network Edge?
The network edge is defined as the boundaries between IT domains or an interface between two network segments. When moving from one edge to the next service edge, network packets may be modified in some way. Adding to the challenge for IT in monitoring this traffic, the different domain points may be owned by different organizations.

A common example of this is the point where user traffic traverses the WAN. This might involve the connection between a remote site and the internet, WAN, or software-defined WAN (SD-WAN). It might also be peering locations in co-los, such as in the case of public cloud or the internet. Other network edges might include virtual private network (VPN) concentrators and/or virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) load balancers for remote access; firewalls; DMZs; load-balancers for security; centralized SD-WAN concentrators at data centers, co-los, and/or public cloud; and private data center edges.

What is the Data Center/Cloud Service Edge?
The final edge is the data center/cloud service edge, which is the first server that traffic from the client hits, wherever that application stack resides. This edge might include data centers, private or public cloud, and any point where communications between the different application tiers or microservices occur over east-west connections.

The Need for End-Through-End Visibility and Control
Monitoring at these different edges is essential for gaining end-through-end visibility, enabling effective troubleshooting of end-user experience and application performance. The combined use of both packet data and synthetic test technologies for monitoring at these different edges is key to success. Synthetic testing that includes business transaction testing capabilities allows IT to simulate the different types of interactions an end user has with applications across a business environment.

Adopting a smart edge monitoring approach provides IT with the visibility and control it needs to reduce mean time to knowledge (MTTK) and mean time to restore (MTTR). When it comes to smart edge monitoring, NETSCOUT is the right choice. Our Smart Edge Monitoring is a next-generation solution designed to provide visibility across all of the edges of an enterprise’s infrastructure, allowing IT to deliver the best digital end-user experience across any application.

To learn more about NETSCOUT Smart Edge Monitoring, visit