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How to Migrate ICS Networks to the Cloud #2: Edge Computing

Introduction

Industrial control systems (ICS) are critical to the operation of infrastructure and industrial processes, and as technology advances, more and more ICS networks are being migrated to the cloud. One of the key technologies that is playing a critical role in these migrations is edge computing.

Edge computing is a distributed computing architecture that places computational and data storage resources at the “edge” of a network, closer to the source of data. This contrasts with traditional cloud computing, where data is sent to centralized data centers for processing. By processing and analyzing data locally at the edge, edge computing can help reduce the amount of data that needs to be sent to the cloud, which can help improve the overall efficiency and performance of cloud-based ICS networks.

In this blog, we will explore the benefits of using edge computing in ICS cloud migrations in more detail and discuss how to implement edge computing in your own ICS network.

Benefits of Edge Computing in ICS Cloud Migrations

Edge computing offers several benefits when it comes to migrating ICS to the cloud. In this section, we will explore some of the key benefits of using edge computing in ICS cloud migrations in more detail.

  • Real-time processing: One of the key benefits of using edge computing in ICS cloud migrations is the ability to process and analyze data in real-time. This is particularly important for ICS systems, which need to respond quickly to changes in the environment or to control processes. Edge computing allows data to be analyzed and acted upon locally, which can help to reduce the delay between the time data is collected and the time it is acted upon.
  • Improved security: Another benefit of using edge computing in ICS cloud migrations is the ability to improve security. Edge devices and gateways can be used to encrypt and secure data before it is sent to the cloud, which can help to protect against cyber threats. This is particularly important for ICS systems, which are often targeted by malicious actors due to their critical role in infrastructure and industrial processes.
  • Cost reduction: In addition to real-time processing and improved security, edge computing can also help to reduce the cost of migrating ICS networks to the cloud. By processing data locally at the edge, the amount of data that needs to be sent to the cloud is reduced, which can help to lower the cost of cloud storage and processing.
  • Increased scalability: With edge computing, ICS systems can handle an increased amount of data while maintaining the same level of performance and security. This is particularly important for ICS systems that generate large amounts of data, such as those in the manufacturing or energy sectors.
  • Improving reliability: Edge computing can also improve the reliability of ICS systems by reducing the dependency on the cloud. In case of a cloud failure, the edge devices can continue to operate and collect data, making the system more robust and less prone to failures.

Edge computing plays an essential role in ICS cloud migrations by providing real-time processing, improved security, cost reduction and increased scalability. As more and more ICS systems are connected to the cloud, edge computing will become an increasingly important technology for bridging the gap between on-premises systems and the cloud.

Implementing Edge Computing in ICS Cloud Migrations

It is important to properly assess and plan for edge computing before implementation, as well as securely connecting on-premises systems to edge devices and managing and scaling edge computing infrastructure.

  • Assessing and planning for edge computing: Before implementing edge computing in an ICS cloud migration, it is important to assess the current network infrastructure and determine what resources will be needed for the edge computing devices and gateways. This includes determining the amount of data that needs to be processed at the edge, as well as the specific requirements for processing and storage. It’s also important to plan for the deployment and management of edge computing devices and gateways, including determining the appropriate locations for deployment and identifying who will be responsible for maintaining the devices.
  • Securely connecting on-premises systems to edge devices: Once the edge computing infrastructure is in place, the next step is to securely connect on-premises ICS systems to the edge devices and gateways. This includes configuring secure communication protocols, such as virtual private networks (VPNs) or secure sockets layers (SSL)/transport layer security (TLS), and implementing security measures such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS), and endpoint security. It’s also important to ensure that the edge devices and gateways are properly configured and secured to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Managing and scaling edge computing infrastructure: After the edge computing infrastructure is in place and connected to on-premises systems, it’s important to properly manage and scale the infrastructure as needed. This includes monitoring the performance of the edge devices and gateways, troubleshooting, resolving any issues that arise, and scaling the infrastructure as needed to meet the changing needs of the ICS network. It’s also important to ensure that the edge devices and gateways are properly maintained and updated to ensure that they remain secure and continue to function properly.

By taking these steps, organizations can ensure that their ICS cloud migrations are successful and that their ICS networks remain secure and perform at optimal levels.


See Part 1 here.

Sedat Salman
Sedat Salman
Sedat Salman has a career of over 20 years in the field of cybersecurity, IT, OT, and cloud infrastructure, having worked as a Program Manager and Technical Leader/Manager. He is currently employed as a Digital Advisor and Global Solution Architect at Schneider Electric.

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