Edge computing: some practical considerations


According to recent surveys, a majority of companies in the EU run one or more of their processing activities through cloud computing. Much has been said and written about cloud computing (once a buzzword), including the advantages it offers and risks it entails. "Edge computing", which is less known, offers to bring some answers to cloud challenges.

Without repeating all opportunities and risks in this area, the bottom line surely is that when making use of cloud computing services a solid cloud contract needs to be put in place. Some crucial elements to consider in this respect are:  

  • the arrangements around the processing and use of the data, certainly where it involves personal data
  • geographical considerations (where are data processed, backed-up, accessible, …)
  • procedures in the event of data breaches (irrespective of the nature of the data)
  • description and functional requirements of the service
  • IP rights (where relevant)
  • etc.

However, and dependent on the critical nature of the data processed in the cloud, the availability and service quality of the cloud computing service will be of quintessential importance. The same goes for the level of support provided in case something goes wrong. The way in which these aspects are governed, will depend on the interplay of a number of relevant clauses in the contract, such as: 

  • guarantee / warranty clause(s)
  • a service level agreement (if applicable)
  • a liability clause
  • an indemnification clause
  • clause(s) related to support services
  • etc.

Availability and service quality is an area where edge computing tries to offer a solution for the challenges posed, as it brings the applications in/through which real-time data are processed (for example: the data needed to manage your online shopping cart) one level closer to the customer’s own network. This type of leveling your IT infrastructure also improves response times in the service delivery. So, good news.

However, close scrutiny of your contract is still warranted, as any form of unavailability, hacking, security incidents, unplanned maintenance, etc. on the level of the cloud servers (so one level further than the edge servers) may still have a detrimental impact on the edge servers. Also, where third party processors would be involved on the level of the edge, this would imply additional contractual considerations (subcontractor liability, back-to-back guarantees, sub-processing from a personal data perspective, etc.).

So in summary: check your IT contract in detail and avoid unwanted surprises!

For more information, please contact Antoon Dierick (Antoon.dierick@mertens-depaepe.be). MDP lawyers can assist you with drafting, reviewing and negotiating the whole array of IT related contracts.