Telcos “must act now or lose out,” report says
Edge computing is at a turning point, with discussions centered around the “how” and “when” of implementation rather than the “if” and the “why”, according to a new report from STL Partners.
The research, based on interviews with seven start-ups who are integrating edge computing with their offerings, was sponsored by edge computing company MobiledgeX, which is backed by Deutsche Telekom. The report said that use cases such as live streaming, drone management, video/app optimization and augmented/virtual reality for businesses are being supported by edge computing right now, either in the proof-of-concept stage or in commercial offerings.
But developers still face challenges as they try to leverage edge computing, the report said: they “need clarity on how they will access the edge and where, which capabilities will be available to them, how workloads can be managed at the edge and how they will be charged for its use.” That is the type of clarity that only a service provider can give them.
The report focused on either network edge, defined as compute capabilities on a telco’s wide area network, or and on-premises edge, defined as servers running at a customer site.
Among the report’s findings:
-The two benefits valued most by application developers were reducing latency and reducing the amount of data traveling back to the centralized cloud. For some developers, “data sovereignty and a desire to be ‘compliant by design’ also make edge computing an attractive prospect,” the report concluded.
-Edge computing enables developers to “strike a balance between the performance they need and the ability to scale their solution across customers.” In the case of AR/VR applications, for example, network edge computing provided by a telco network reduces latency sufficiently but doesn’t require on-premise servers at each customer site, which helps with scalability, the report noted.
-Different domains call for different edge solutions, and telcos ” need to identify areas where they can bring value,” STL said. In the case of drones, low latency is highly desirable — but telcos also represent an attractive partner who could stage demonstrations and work with local governments on a regulatory environment that would encourage adoption. For location-based services, however, ubiquity of coverage/availability is a key concern.
-Telecom operators can use edge both to boost their core connectivity business and reduce latency for their own customers, as well as to introduce new services such as data management at the edge.
The report also identified a number of challenges in the various domains which are beginning to leverage edge computing. Drones, for example, are seeing slower-than-expected adoption for reasons that include short battery life/flight duration — but a bigger challenge is that “until there is a way to continuously collect data and monitor assets/infrastructure, industries and governments will not be able to access the true benefit of using drones,” the research concluded. Edge computing offers a solution to that challenge.
The overriding message from developers, though, was a simple one: don’t wait to figure everything out before you start rolling out the infrastructure.
Developers, STL said, want operators to “stop waiting for a myriad of edge computing use cases to be proved before rolling out the infrastructure. Application developers need more sites in order to test their solutions and commercialize them for their users, wherever they are in the world.”