Edge computing news 2023

Edge computing is a rapidly growing industry and evolving ecosystem. This article summarises the most important edge computing news and announcements from 2023. It captures information on M&A, partnerships, product announcements and other strategic plays. 

January: Vapor IO looked to expand into Europe via a partnership with Cellnex 

In January we heard that Vapor IO, a US-based edge data centre company, will look to expand into Europe via a partnership with Cellnex. They already have 36 locations available in the US and their intial launch location in Europe will be in Barcelona. We had the CMO of Vapor IO, Matt, on our edge podcast last year which you can check out to hear more about their vision for the edge.  

The recent announcements at LEAP 2023 also indicate the continued rise of opportunity in providing edge and sovereign cloud in the Middle East. Microsoft announced that they will invest in a new cloud data centre in Saudi Arabia, while Mobily announced a partnership with Tencent Cloud to deliver sovereign cloud as well as other software services.  

February: Edge computing was a key element of network API announcements at MWC 2023 

Edge computing was less front and centre at MWC this year compared to last year, getting overshadowed by other exciting new technologies on display. But we believe the slightly dampened excitement around edge computing also reflects challenges around monetisation. For telcos, the lack of a clear path to monetisation is slowing investments into edge infrastructure and driving them to focus more on how to support edge computing with their core connectivity services. 

One business model that is maturing is the combination of edge with private networking. There were many examples of integrated edge and private networking solutions on display from companies including NTT, Schneider Electric, Qualcomm and Infosys, with real-time video analytics often highlighted as a key driver of demand. 

MEC APIs are an important part of the wider network API story at this year’s MWC, though. 5G Future Forum (5GFF) launched the Edge Discovery Service (EDS) API and the Edge Site Selection and Routing API is one of the eight universal network APIs in the GSMA Open Gateway initiative, and Verizon, Vodafone, and KT were all showcasing demos of how these APIs could unlock the value of edge. 

March: BT and AWS announced an AWS Wavelength partnership 

BT and AWS announced a partnership that will enable EE customers to access AWS Wavelength resources. The first zone to be announced will be in Manchester. This is significant since it’s the first time a hyperscaler has secured two partnerships for network edge with telcos who operate in the same region (the other, of course, being Vodafone). The need for interoperability between telco edges could be diminished if a hyperscaler like AWS were to secure enough bilateral partnerships with operators.  

Qwilt secured a further telco partnership, this time with Telefonica, focused on edge CDN. It’s the first commercial integration based entirely on Open Caching standards.  

Lastly, we’ve seen several investment announcements focused on the data centre and facilities space including DataBank’s investment led by TD Securities and Edge Centres’ acquisition of Hyson International.  

April: AtlasEdge financing package announced 

Console Connect and StackPath have announced a partnership that allows businesses to connect to the StackPath cloud using the Console Connect platform, providing improved security and performance for internet-based applications and workloads. Businesses can self-provision private, high-performance connections and create point-to-point Layer 2 or Layer 3 connections to StackPath through Console Connect’s self-service portal or API.  

AtlasEdge has secured a scalable €725 million facility from a group of lenders, including ING Bank and ABN Amro, to fund customer-led growth projects, strategic M&A, and build sustainable data centers throughout Europe’s key markets, with the financing package consisting of €525 million in committed debt financing and a further €200 million uncommitted accordion. 

Spectro Cloud and Intel have collaborated to create the Secure Edge-Native Architecture (SENA), an enterprise-ready solution architecture that provides flexible and secure management of edge environments at scale.  

May: Apple launched Vision Pro 

Telstra announced last week a new suite of services focused on Industrial Automation. This has been made possible through their acquisitions of industry specific solution providers including Aqura Technologies and Alliance Automation. They say they will focus on heavy industries, including mining, construction, supply chain and manufacturing. The solutions will leverage capabilties including private networks, edge computing, IoT and cybersecurity and is an example of investment by telcos in moving beyond connectivity in an industry-specialised manner – a strategy long discussed by STL Partners (e.g. in our Coordination Age manifesto).  

We also saw this month more evidence of end-to-end industry focused solutions leveraging edge computing in the partnership between Amdocs and Microsoft. They showcased both a smart city solution and an AR maintenance and training solution, tested and showcased in Amdocs’ Americas 5G Experience Lab. 

We’ve been tracking Dell’s efforts to move into infrastructure management since the launch of Project Frontier last year. This month, they announced Dell NativeEdge which they call “the next phase of Project Frontier”. The platform will look to ensure that the complexity of deploying and managing edge hardware is reduced, as well as making it easier to find and onboard new applications onto their edge infrastructure.  

Lastly, Apple’s launch of Vision Pro! Of course, from an edge computing perspective, it’s interesting to see the performance capabilities of the device and consider how these could be impacted using edge computing resources:  

  • The battery for the headset is not on the headset itself and will last for two hours – this will reduce the heaviness of the headset but also impact Cx as individuals will need to have the battery pack tethered 
  • No mention of the headset being SIM-enabled although lots of mentions of the ability for the headset to connect to your laptop/phone to become an extension of these devices  
  • Significant amounts of computing on the headset itself with two processors – this will be a key reason behind both the high price point and the relatively low battery life but does mean they can processor data from the cameras and sensors in 12ms 

June: T-Mobile partnered with Google to offer Google Distributed Cloud Edge services to private 5G customers 

Following the recent explosion of its market cap, it has been announced that Nvidia have acquired OmniML, an AI startup focused on compressing machine learning applications for edge devices. OmniML are working on technology to ensure that edge devices can run complex AI programmes on a smaller form factor with much lower compute and power capabilities. This move represents Nvidia’s desire to encourage the maturation of the edge ecosystem, allowing use cases to develop and adoption to rise.  

T-Mobile US has partnered with Google to offer Google Distributed Cloud (GDC) Edge services to private 5G networking customers. The collaboration aims to provide advanced services with improved throughput and lower latency, leveraging 5G and edge computing. T-Mobile’s Advanced Network Solutions (ANS) already includes edge computing solutions from Dell, but the partnership with Google expands the choices for private 5G network

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July: New AWS Wavelength site piloted in Spain with Vodafone  

Vodafone have expanded their Wavelength partnership by announcing a new pilot site in Spain. Alongside their pre-existing sites in the UK and Germany this makes Vodafone’s deployments the most extensive multi-country offering (though Verizon and AWS in the US still have a greater number of sites).  

And Vapor.io announced a partnership with Comcast earlier this month. Vapor has been offering edge colocation and interconnection via their Edge Kinetic platform in the US for some time, but this is the first time that they’ll be pushing their deployments deeper into the networks. Doing this should enable them to deliver on their promise of a “near-premise edge”.  

August: Elisa launched an automated edge data centre site 

At the VMware Explore 2023 conference, VMware unveiled its Edge Cloud Orchestrator, aimed at simplifying the deployment, management, and security of edge-native applications and infrastructure. Recognizing the industry shift towards edge computing, VMware’s solution provides a unified platform for managing various edge services, catering to the rise in IoT deployments. This software-defined, scalable edge vision is exemplified by partnerships with companies like Audi, which plans to use VMware’s tools for factory automation.  

Elisa launched an automated edge data centre site, leveraging the Wind River Studio Cloud Platform and its 5G core UPF application. The use of Wind River Studio Conductor streamlined application deployment across large environments. This initiative resulted in a 90% reduction in deployment time and a 50% cut in overall deployment duration due to automation, enhancing network quality and reducing errors. The collaboration with Wind River signifies a combined drive for innovation in edge computing, underscoring Elisa’s commitment to advanced technologies. 

September: Lenovo product announcements focused on AI at the edge 

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released a revised “Action Plan for the High-Quality Development of Computing Infrastructure” which underscores the expansion of edge computing and the required low-latency networks. The plan aims to enhance China’s digital infrastructure by 2025. The emphasis on edge computing and lower latency reflects Beijing’s intention to foster industry-centric applications, making them highly efficient, and promoting the digitization of industries. This initiative seeks to position China’s economy to be more efficient, thereby aiding Chinese businesses in becoming globally competitive. 

Lenovo introduced TruScale for Edge and AI services and a new ThinkEdge server this month, aimed at providing businesses with scalable access to next-gen AI. The TruScale services offer a pay-as-you-go model for quick deployment of edge computing and AI resources, while the ThinkEdge server is tailored for businesses building their own infrastructure, especially useful in handling AI workloads efficiently in various environments. These new products signal the growing demand for AI-specific edge infrastructure, a trend that is growing and which we covered in a recent webinar.  

October: nLighten acquired Proximity Data Centres to build a pan-European edge platform  

In a move that counters the recent downturn in investment and acquisition in the edge computing market, digital infrastructure platform nLighten has acquired UK-based Proximity Data Centres who operate carrier-neutral edge data centres. Proximity’s ten data centres expand nLighten’s European presence to 26 data centres taking them closer to its aspiration of building a dominant pan-European edge data centre platform. 

AI at the edge continued to dominate the news: 

  • Edge computing platform Stackpath added NVIDIA GPUs to its Virtual Machine and Container product portfolio 
  • AWS has submitted a patent for using quantum computing technologies on edge computing devices. Edge will facilitate quantum computing services without the requirement for direct access to quantum hardware. 

November: Altice to sell off edge data centres to Morgan Stanley 

AWS and NVIDIA announced a strategic collaboration aimed at providing supercomputing resources for generative AI, combining NVIDIA’s GPUs with AWS’s cloud infrastructure. AWS will also host NVIDIA’s AI-training service, DGX Cloud, aimed at significantly enhancing AI model training capabilities. 

Altice France has agreed to sell a 70% stake in UltraEdge, a data centre company that will be formed comprising of 257 data centres and office space, to Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners. This will establish the first nationwide independent distributed colocation provider in France and gives UltraEdge a valuation of €764 million.  

ZEDEDA has launched ZEDEDA Edge Kubernetes Service, a fully managed Kubernetes service for the distributed edge, aimed at simplifying Kubernetes deployments in challenging environments. This service provides a Kubernetes runtime managed by ZEDEDA, along with integrations with orchestrators, addressing the increasing need for containerised software at the edge. 

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