What's the right business case for mobile edge computing?  (Part 1)

What’s the right business case for mobile edge computing? (Part 1)

Editor’s Note: The RCR Wireless News and Enterprise IoT Insights teams recently brought together a wide range of telecom and enterprise players to discuss all things mobile edge computing at the virtual event. Mobile Edge Forum, available upon request here. This article is taken from a Mobile Edge Forum session.

Edge Business Models in Practice: Carrier-Owned and Provided-as-a-Service vs. Enterprise-Owned and Carrier-Managed

As 5G networks, public and private, are expanded by carriers and integrated into enterprise technology workflows, the ambiguous title of “edge” has become a focal point of debate. The premise is clear: to take full advantage of the throughput and latency of the 5G air interface to move data, apply some kind of intelligence, and turn that into a decision, computing power must be distributed out of data centers. centralized data to overcome the limitations of the speed of light. What is less clear is who should own and operate what. And with a lot of things related to 5G, the answer is that it depends.

Daniel Beazer, senior analyst at Analysys Mason, framed the problem: “The problem can actually be stated quite simply, namely that the provision of services, whether compute, storage, streaming, CDN , what do you have, from a… massive centralized cloud a massive data center node or campus from an interconnect point in Northern Virginia or London or Frankfurt… is something that makes good economic sense, but gets a little more fragile as we move towards something that’s really distributed and way out of the center. So I guess the question is, who’s going to pay for that and what is that business model?”

“It’s an assortment right now in the early days of edge computing”

Equinix specializes in digital infrastructure, in particular data centers, colocation points and other Internet connection services. Service providers use Equinix’s platform and infrastructure for a range of services such as VPNs, SD-WAN, security applications and 5G network deployment. Orange, for example, has used Equinix data centers for nearly 20 years to host its backbone network and is also working with the company to expand its telecommunications cloud environment.

Regarding the metropolitan edge, Zachary Smith, global head of edge infrastructure services for Equinix, explained that the goal is to “deliver an ecosystem of partners and capabilities in these places, and reduce the effort and friction to get the right thing in those places connected to the right network.

He continued, “Where we think we can get enough aggregation to make the economics of what we’re going to think of as more general purpose distributed use cases, really more economical.” With partners like Orange, Smith said, the goal is “to bring their networks and enable local dispatch and traffic exchange in these metro points instead of redirecting everything to a few centralized locations.” When it comes to very latency-sensitive services in the sub-15 millisecond range, “I still think we’re a bit far from…being able to help customers reach all of those services.”

Reviewing the business models currently in play in the market, Milan Djukic, Intel’s Smart Edge Senior Product Manager, said, “There are certain situations where companies are either due to a strategic decision they make , or their internal skills and competences. , where they are more likely to work with a partner to buy a business outcome as a service. In other scenarios where the end customer “is a bit more vertically integrated…they are more open or willing to buy the infrastructure themselves and deploy and manage their own use cases.”

Calling the variances tied to particular verticals and geographies, “it’s assortment right now in the early days of edge computing,” Djukic said. “To succeed in this type of environment, we really need to be flexible in how we package and deliver our solutions with our go-to-market partners.”

Back at Orange, the operator’s director of international network transformation, Idir Fodil, said customers need both centralized and decentralized IT resources, and having access to both telecommunications cloud architectures. , “we can offer our customers two…capabilities”. Edge features enable Orange to meet business-critical latency SLAs. “With latency under 10 milliseconds, you can’t achieve that with a centralized cloud.” This dual telecom operator cloud operating model allows Orange to provide “customers with new services, integrating them very quickly”.

Fodil said he believes having a large footprint of small, distributed data centers provides a “quick return on investment” compared to large, centralized cloud resources. He also referenced Orange’s collaboration with Equinix: “We are counting on expanding this footprint with Equinix on this end-demand PoP in order to be able to quickly deploy and deploy new services”, including 5G roaming, SASE, 5G cores. , voice and other services.

Develop a mobile edge computing offer as a service

Regarding how end users communicate about how they want to consume edge computing and related services, Smith said a consumption-based business model tied to specific business outcomes drives companies that are building and operating the platforms to “understand how we can bring this value equation to customers faster. He also highlighted the importance of extending the life cycle of equipment, understanding the carbon footprint and recycling components where possible in the development of the business model.

“How can we bring more consumption-as-a-service models to our ecosystem…which displaces risk,” is the first big question, he said. “And then number two, also making sure that we look at all aspects of reusing that infrastructure, extending the lifespan, finding different use cases…[to] maximize return on investment.

Djukic, discussing the challenge particularly around the on-premises periphery, is that “one size does not fit all… What works in industry versus retail versus healthcare are extremely unique requirements. And integrating into these brownfield environments can be extremely complex and expensive. But, he said, Intel is accumulating cutting-edge use cases with a demonstrable positive return on investment, which allows them to easily quantify the benefits of the investment.

“I think there’s enough openness in the industry, whether it’s with the partners here on the panel or with Intel to approach our packaging differently so the numbers work so the value can be extracted by the customer. final.”

Following Djukic’s comment on on-premises deployments, Beazer steered the discussion towards multitenant and shared platforms. When the operator takes this approach, they believe that “use case stacking” is part of unlocking an attractive business case.

Continuing its partnership with Equinix, Orange’s Fodil has cataloged advanced services that can be offered to multiple customers. “We have SASE, which is very important for our B2B customers. We have 5G, it can be private networks. We are seeing demand for local 5G and 4G breakthrough… We have voice service deployment” and the ability to integrate legacy voice networks into a layer as a service that can be scaled to customers specific.

Returning to the central question of who should own the edge computing node, Fodil said the partnership with Equinix gives Orange the ability to quickly and flexibly deliver services to its customers. “We kind of focus our business on providing services to our customers… We’ve partnered with Equinix to deploy, let’s say, the bottom layer, which is hardware, compute, storage, etc… We we have a business model and a total cost of ownership that…at the same time for Equinix and Orange.

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