The edge computing frontier is a bit like the wild West—technology providers trying to stake their claim of the $70B+ edge computing opportunity (by 2022/2023 according to ACG Research), customers trying to figure how to move into this new territory, and the industry still needing to do considerable work to specify edge nomenclatures, standards and architecture blueprints.
As a result, the notion of the “edge” is still very much a matter of perspective:
- An IoT sensor gateway on an airplane helping predict engine failure(s)
- A low-power Bluetooth beacon in a mall (proximity-triggered couponing)
- A cell site or C-RAN platform Virtual Broadband Base Unit (vBBU)
- A universal CPE siting in a branch office
- Or a micro-modular data center (5G distributed Unit (DU) cloudlet) sitting below a macro cellular tower, caching UHD content, delivering zip code-specific ad insertion
All of these represent legitimate “edges” and use-cases in their own right. And all call upon a shift to a more compute-style architecture deep in the access network to transform and modernize the infrastructure.
STEP 1: Think Disaggregation – The Journey to Open Infrastructure
The advent of network function virtualization (NFV), the move to Open Networking, and the emergence of new edge standards (Akraino, CloudEdgeX, SEBA, etc.) and operating models for edge workloads have had a profound structural effect on the supply chain, ecosystems and underlying architectures. All positive developments in our mind, directionally driving towards more openness, choice as well as hardware and software “composability”.
One constant, though, is the move to a cloud-like infrastructure at the edge (from the cloud to the core and closer to the delivery point). This represents an opportunity for you, the operator, to be more in the driver seat, taking more control over your architectural destiny. The main goal is to enable a distributed cloud-like platform that allows for massive automation with granular control, visibility and security across administrative domains spanning different organizations and geographies. But how do you get there?
Fortunately, you have a number of solution options for your journey. It starts with open, standards-based infrastructure optimized for the workloads you intend to run and the place you intend to run them. From there, as you layer on software elements you have options both from commercial ISVs and open source communities. The key here is to avoid the ‘full stack,’ ‘all hardware and software engineered by the same supplier’ mentality. That is the world you came from. We want to take you to a world of true openness, choice and flexibility.
STEP 2: Think Workloads: The Journey to the Cloud-Enabled Edge
With open, standards-based compute infrastructure as a foundation, step 2 is about the workload – i.e. the various pieces of software running on the deployed edge nodes. The key goal here is to provide a quasi-ubiquitous and differentiated workload execution environment that can reflect and enforce service logic, enable sophisticated composable functions and service graphs, and enforce policies with granular workload visibility. In the case of 5G mobile edge infrastructure modernization or rollout for instance, the answer lies in bringing the best of IT, service and workload management, and distributed mobility capabilities together in one unified, validated platform that can offer extensive management and disaster recovery capabilities.
STEP 3: Think Dell EMC: Your Journey Starts Here
Our executives have been very prolific in outlining our vision (Michael Dell, Ravi Pendekanti, Kevin Shatzkamer, Jyeh Gan) of the edge and the leadership role that Dell EMC is taking in partnering with communication service providers (CSPs) globally.
At Dell EMC we embrace open, standards-based architectures with our PowerEdge and Open Networking portfolios. And we offer the widest set of software options from within the Dell Technologies family, our broader industry ecosystems and open source communities. The combinations are virtually limitless:
Consider for example our PowerEdge XR2 for ruggedized mobile edge applications, or our Edge Gateway series for industrial IoT edge, or our Virtual Edge Platform (VEP) family for enterprise edge and uCPE use-cases (see Figure 1 below). Add to these the commercial or open source software that works for you. Ultimately, this journey is a personal one…personal to your business.
There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ or one single ‘edge.’ In today’s open world, you have a lot of options. And Dell EMC is here to help.
Learn more about how to cloud-enable YOUR edge; or schedule time with one of our sales engineers. Either way, we’re ready to start you on your journey to the edge.