Cox Edge Q&A: How a cable company created an edge platform
In this article, we interviewed Ron Lev, General Manager of Cox Edge and Executive Director, New Growth of Cox Communications, and Naren Muthiah, Senior Manager, Business Design of Cox Edge, to talk about Cox’s new venture in the edge space and to understand their perspective on what’s next in the market.
In recent years, interest in edge computing and its applications has burgeoned amongst operators and end customers alike. As devices and sensors generate increasing amounts of data, it has become key to process some workloads as close to source as possible. Centralised cloud locations play a huge part in customer networks, but edge computing locations are becoming equally crucial to support intelligent networks that can deliver on desired business outcomes.
Cox Communications is a US multi service operator that offers a range of services, from cable television to managed enterprise telecommunications. They publicly launched Cox Edge two months ago to serve developers and enterprises in bringing cloud resources even closer to minimise application latency.
We interviewed Ron Lev, General Manager of Cox Edge and Executive Director, New Growth of Cox Communications, and Naren Muthiah, Senior Manager, Business Design of Cox Edge, to talk about Cox’s new venture in the edge space and to understand their perspective on what’s next in the market.
What does Edge computing mean to you at Cox?
Conversations around edge started a few years ago. It is such a broad space with so many possibilities. Depending on who you are in the market, it means something different. For us at Cox Edge, it is about solving customer pain points effectively by unlocking the value of the infrastructure advantage we hold. The possibility of providing cloud services even closer to customers, driven by more powerful and compact networks, has generated demand for low latency connections. This has given rise to innovation and helped us to put a value on assets and space that most people forget we own. The new unit, Cox Edge, is evidence of the definitive steps we have taken to commercialise an edge offering, launch a business around it and focus on as frictionless a customer experience as possible. This starts with an accessible self-service purchase journey to accelerate the business, similar to what we saw from AWS when they arrived in the public cloud market.
The Cox Edge proposition
Why is Cox well positioned to be a provider of edge services?
We have a strategic market advantage due to our ownership of and continued high investment in infrastructure. We are an ISP and a communications provider, but we do not act as a mobile operator or own a mobile network on a large scale. This positioning allows us to concentrate on network locations and latency, without having to solve for 5G. From there, we only need to focus on our desired compute mix to enable the right services at the edge. In the US, there is only one other player like us.
Cox Edge platform services
You have taken the decision to create an entirely new business unit, Cox Edge. Why is that?
It’s more than creating an entirely new business unit. Our purpose with Cox Edge is to build a better future for developers, businesses, and users. Our ambition is to grow our business aggressively with our customers.
We wanted to create a strong balance between a) the expertise and assets held in the much larger cable business and b) the agility and entrepreneurialism possible within a new venture. At Cox, we have various ‘themes’ – Edge, Connected Healthcare, Commercial IoT etc. – each of which is following a similar model to us. Having a new unit and the budget to look at an adjacent area to the traditional cable business gives us the charter to innovate. We know that a platform play in this space holds a certain amount of risk, but it means that we will have a solution that has a broad enough reach to avoid building bespoke for each customer.
Our primary customer focus has been to go after the single developer and enterprise community that can really leverage the edge framework from a digital transformation perspective, rather than our own internal network efficiency which will naturally be worked on. As the market is relatively nascent, everything to date has been a custom deployment and highly fragmented in architecture and provider terms. We are prioritising solving for pain points of existing Cox Business customers and other verticals that are well positioned to adopt edge without bespoke implementations.
Which use cases are you seeing traction from for edge computing?
Gaming, Media and Healthcare have interesting applications of edge, but the issues are very similar across the board. It boils down to a combination of speed and access to data, analytics and localisation for reduced latency. Our customers want to transport large amounts of data in a cost-effective manner without backhauling it too far and overburdening centralised cloud resource. They also want to reduce their time to insight when using analytics. While the outcomes of solving this will translate differently across verticals, the fundamental issues are the same.
Providers do not think often enough about the business design to inform desirability and feasibility of a product or a suite of products in the long run. We see it as key to understand what the scaled-out approach is to build a business. If you do not build in an efficient way, the more products you launch, the more complex your problems become.
Cox Edge’s locations
Have you seen interest from specific industries in your edge services yet?
Yes, absolutely – gaming, media, and entertainment, for example. Interest has come from verticals where there is a high density of IoT sensors or where regulation requires data geocaches, limiting data transit to within set geographic limits. Given that we have a wide-reaching cable network and we also backhaul all mobile networks in the US, all sorts of customers can access our platform. A lot of developers are coming to us. For example, game developers and content delivery networks are asking how we can help them because we have presence in the area that they want to launch services. We are extremely excited to move up the value chain by bringing public cloud to the last mile. This positions us uniquely to serve a range of customers.
So, what’s your perspective on collaborations in the space?
We believe in the power of true collaboration. Collaboration is often used as a code word for vendorship. However, we believe collaboration is working closely together on a continued basis to create a great solution and sell together. Selling should not be a one-sided problem.
We are open to collaborate with companies across the ecosystem, with no specific boundary line drawn. Go to market and technology collaborators are our where we are directing our attention to most, for now. For example, we are working with StackPath to deliver orchestration. This collaboration aims to address a customer need, rather than thinking immediately about revenue upside. We want to ensure that developers can seamlessly deploy their applications across Cox Edge or StackPath, increasing accessibility to and reducing friction in getting the cloud resources they need.
Special thanks to Ron Lev & Naren Muthiah for this interview:
GM @ Cox Edge/Executive Director, New Growth @ Cox Communication
Strategy & Business Design Lead @ Cox Communications
Author: Patrick Montague-Jones is a Senior Consultant at STL Partners specialising in a range of topics across the telecommunications value chain
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