9 Pioneers in Network Edge Orchestration
As edge computing is gaining traction, a new role is evolving for players who can successfully manage the complexity of edge infrastructure. This article examines the various capabilities that a good edge cloud orchestrator must have and shines light on 9 pioneers in the space.
Key capabilities of edge orchestration
The demand for edge computing is growing as enterprises and consumers look to adopt applications which require low latency, bandwidth savings, data security and more. In the wake of decentralised computing, a new role is emerging for players who can successfully manage the distributed orchestration of the increasing number of edge locations.
According to STL Partners’ research, the following key capabilities are essential for effective network edge orchestration:
Key Edge Orchestration Capabilities
As the map suggests, some of these edge cloud orchestration capabilities are fairly well-supported by a number of organisations while others are more niche. For example, when looking at workload support, more companies support on-prem applications than apps running on public cloud.
9 pioneers in network edge orchestration
According to our market research, the following companies are nine of the leading organisations at the forefront of edge cloud orchestration. Some of these enterprises are start-ups that focus on edge cloud orchestration while others are large incumbents that have heavily invested in this space. Regardless of size or origin, these companies are the pioneers in network edge orchestration due to their ability to offer essential distributed orchestration capabilities.
Main edge orchestration offering: Ensemble Orchestrator
Website: Ensemble Orchestrator
HQ: Munich, Germany
Date founded: 1994
ADVA has slowly built a strong presence in the open and disaggregated network community. The company’s Ensemble Orchestrator provides flexible VNF and network service on-boarding along with policy-driven automation for reliable service creation, activation and assurance. ADVA’s edge cloud orchestration anchors on an end-to-end (hardware agnostic) uCPE platform. The Ensemble Orchestrator is more prominent in on-prem edge cloud orchestration than it is in network orchestration. This being said, ADVA’s Ensemble Suite provides strong orchestration and management capabilities for enterprise networks.
Main edge orchestration offering: EdgeNet
HQ: New York, USA
Date founded: 2009
AlefEdge has built a network of 11M active subscribers and diverse industry partners in a little over a decade. The company has been building its API business with EdgeNet, an edge cloud distributed software platform. Interestingly, AlefEdge does not view itself as a “use case company” but provides developers with toolsets to develop cross-industry applications. Hence, while the company does support applications (mainly on-prem, at the network edge, and on private cloud), AlefEdge relies on partners/third parties for application provisioning.
Main edge orchestration offering: Ensconce platform
Website: Capgemini Engineering
HQ: Paris, France
Date founded: 1967
Much of Capgemini’s edge capabilities were born out of Aricent’s early work in mobile edge computing. Aricent was part of Altran which was acquired by Capgemini in 2019 and is now “Capgemini Engineering”. Ensconce is Capgemini’s edge computing platform which integrates Open Network Edge Services Software (OpenNESS) as well as other technologies developed by Intel. The MEC platform offers low latency edge application development through SDKs. Interestingly, Altran and Intel are working together on a multi-operator edge platform (powered by ENSCONCE) that will meet the requirements of the GSMA Operator Platform.
Main edge orchestration offering: HPE Edge Orchestrator
Website: Edge Orchestrator data sheet
HQ: Spring, USA
Date founded: 2015
HPE has a number of edge-related offerings that it has continued to develop since 2018 when the company released a platform for enterprises to integrate applications and OT devices. In 2020, HPE launched its Edge Orchestrator which is a SaaS-based orchestration solution targeted at telcos seeking to monetize their 5G networks. HPE’s edge orchestration capabilities are mainly around providing application lifecycle management in a multi-tenanted portal. The tool can also be combined with other services e.g. NFV orchestrator or add-on cartridges e.g. Aruba EdgeConnect SD-WAN (part of Silver Peak acquisition).
5. Intel Smart Edge
Main edge orchestration offering: Intel Smart Edge Software: MEC Edge Node & Controller
Website: Intel Smart Edge
HQ: Santa Clara, USA
Date founded: 1968
Smart Edge has grown significantly since its acquisition by Intel in 2019. Since then, Red Hat has integrated Smart Edge into its OpenShift software development platform aimed at 5G RAN & network core. Intel Smart Edge’s platform is focused on delivering a secure orchestration service to the customer, and its differentiating capabilities are mainly focused around security and authentication. Recently, Smart Edge has begun accelerating its vertical play by targeting the healthcare and retail industries.
Main edge orchestration offering: MobiledgeX Edge-Cloud Platform, MobiledgeX Cloudlet Manager Plugin
HQ: Bonn, Germany
Date founded: 2017
Since its founding in 2017, MobiledgeX has grown from being an internal study at Deutsche Telekom into a standalone organisation focusing on edge computing. The company has grown significantly through strategic/ product partnerships with various players including WWT, SK Telekom, Savari, and Stratacache. MobiledgeX’s edge cloud orchestration platform is focused on simplifying management of network infrastructure for telcos. The company is focused on providing enterprises and CSPs with the capabilities to manage cloud workloads without having to extensively rely on the hyperscalers.
7. Nearby Computing
Main edge orchestration offering: NearbyOne
Website: Nearby Computing
HQ: Barcelona, Spain
Date founded: 2018
NearbyOne, Nearby’s edge cloud orchestration platform, offers end-to-end, cross-domain orchestration capabilities. The platform has strengths across different workload types and specific capabilities such as edge node discovery and closed-loop automation. Nearby Computing is among the few companies that are able to provide application lifecycle management and interface with the network at the same time. NearbyOne is also unique in its ability to support different types of applications across both on-prem edge (apps, network functions including private cellular and uCPE) and the network edge (apps & network functions e.g. RAN, distributed core.).
Main edge orchestration offering: Domain service orchestration portfolio
HQ: Waltham, USA
Date founded: 1993
Netcracker’s foray into edge cloud orchestration started from its role in Vodafone’s Ocean project where it was selected as Vodafone’s distributed orchestration vendor of choice. Since then, Netcracker has won a number of awards for its orchestration capabilities including the 2020 Layer123 Network Transformation Award and the 2021 MEF Award for Market Game Changer. The company scored its latest big win when Etisalat selected Netcracker for domain orchestration for dynamic 5G slicing in 2021. Netcracker’s Edge Domain Orchestration is part of its Domain Service Orchestration portfolio. Currently, the company is focused on RAN orchestration at telcos’ edges, however, it is planning to add edge application orchestration by incorporating ETSI MEC APIs. This being said, Netcracker’s role in the edge ecosystem is largely limited to edge orchestration for network functions as it focuses on lifecycle management to support service orchestration.
9. Rafay Systems
Main edge orchestration offering: Kubernetes Management Cloud
HQ: Sunnyvale, USA
Date founded: 2017
Rafay has grown quickly since it was founded in 2017. In 2020, the company announced a strategic partnership with Verizon to create VNS Application Edge – part of Verizon’s virtual network services. Rafay focuses on providing a platform to manage container-based clusters across different edges and clouds. In 2020, they were granted a patent for a traffic aware workload management system. Today, however, Rafay’s core capabilities are in application lifecycle management. Even though Rafay’s customers tend to specialise in certain sectors, the company’s network edge orchestration platform is fairly horizontal (rather than catering to specific vertical use cases).
Author: Ani Keshishyan is a Consultant at STL Partners, specialising in 5G and edge computing.
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