Edge computing news in 2021

Edge computing is a rapidly growing industry and evolving ecosystem. This article aims to keep you up-to-date with some of the key developments within edge computing. Check back each month for our update on M&As, partnerships, product announcements and other strategic plays.

February: Telstra joins Vodafone, Verizon, SKT and KDD

Telstra has joined the ranks of Vodafone, Verizon, SKT and KDDI in announcing a partnership with AWS. Since Telstra already has a strategic partnership with Microsoft Azure it will be interesting to see what this means for Telstra going forward. Will they be one of the first telcos to build an edge computing ecosystem without all their eggs in one hyperscalers’ basket?  

The other major announcement comes from another edge computing heavyweight, SK Telecom. They have announced a collaboration with Dell Technologies and VMware to deliver a “MEC in a box” solution, combining on-premise edge computing with a private 5G network. We explore its technical and commercial implications in our featured research report this month. 

March: HPE expanding edge capabilities beyond the globe

HPE has announced that it is expanding its edge capabilities beyond the globe, with its launch of an edge computing system to the International Space Station. The Spaceborne Computer-2 will facilitate twice the processing power of its predecessor through the use of its edge capabilities and will be used to analyse climate readings taken by the ISS, as well as to collate the astronaut’s healthcare data.

In other news, IBM released information on their recent integration of the IBM Cloud Satellite with the Lumen edge platform. This furthers the advancement of Industry 4.0, which looks set to improve the manufacturing, oil & gas, and mining sectors across multiple use cases. This integration also goes further in facilitating AI and analytics at the network edge, the potential of which is outlined in this article.

April: Dish to use AWS infrastructure to support its network build-out

Dish announced that it will be using AWS infrastructure to support its network build-out. As a “greenfield” mobile operator, having made inroads into mobile after its 2020 acquisitions of Boost Mobile and ting Mobile in 2020. AWS is leveraging its edge computing portfolio (Local Zones, Wavelength and Outposts) to accelerate Dish’s rollout.

A new day, a new alliance. Vapor IO, VMware, MobilegeX and others have teamed up to create the Open Grid Alliance, a forum that focuses on changing how the internet is architected to a more distributed platform. Our latest article discusses this and sheds light on other forums.

Edge-as-a-service platform provider, Section, has secured $12 million in its Series B funding, led by Limen Technologies (formerly CenturyLink). We cover Section in our report: Edge computing: How developers can get started.

May: Europe is the new hotspot for investments in (edge) data centres and connectivity

The European Investment Bank confirmed its support for TIM’s plans to invest in its networks in Italy. This includes €230M for backbone and regional fibre optic networks in 2021-2023 and €120M for 5G infrastructure in 2021.

Digital Colony and Liberty Global announced a joint venture, AtlasEdge, to own and operate 100 Liberty Global data centres. This coincides with Liberty Global closing the £31bn deal with Telefonica to merge Virgin Media and O2 to create Virgin Media O2 in the UK. AltasEdge could have its first customer in the newly formed fixed-mobile operator…

Saguna, the Israel-based edge cloud MEC solution provider, is being acquired by COMSovereign, a US-based communications technology provider, for approximately $13.1M.

June: Bell Canada announces deal with Amazon Web Services

This month, Bell Canada announced a deal with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to launch multi-access edge computer (MEC) services via AWS Wavelength. AWS has already announced similar tie-ups with other telcos, such as KDDI (Japan), Verizon (US) and SK Telecom (South Korea). In Europe, Vodafone Business has plans to roll out a distributed MEC service with AWS across the UK and Germany, starting with the first commercial MEC centre in London, UK.

Cox Communications has launched a full stack edge-cloud computing platform, Cox Edge, which will offer services such as virtual compute, edge CDN and enterprise Kubernetes at fifteen of Cox’s last-mile edge data centres. Cox Edge is the newest Cox Business line that is targeted at enterprise applications requiring dynamic content delivery such as in media and entertainment, as well as Internet of Things (IoT) use cases.

The US Postal Service (USPS) is using edge AI to accelerate parcel processing. Using Edge Computing Infrastructure Program (ECIP), an artificial intelligence (AI) system that runs on NVIDIA’s EGX platform, their edge servers can process 20 terabytes of images per day from more than 1,000 mail processing machines and shorten a computer vision task that would have taken two weeks to just 20 minutes.

July: AT&T and Google expand partnership to include 5G and edge

Emerson recently announced its PACEdge industrial edge platform to help end-users trial, pilot and scale-up cloud-native applications on-site. Separately, Schneider Electric has released pre-validated micro data centres on Stratus technology, which are designed to run on factor floors. Blaize, an AI start-up building hardware and software platforms for automotive edge and electric vehicles, raised $71m in its series D round of funding.

AT&T and Google have expanded their partnership to include 5G and edge. AT&T has already partnered with Microsoft Azure to help build the AT&T Network Edge, which allows developers to access Azure compute at AT&T’s edge locations (currently limited to Dallas and Los Angeles). The Google partnership emphasises co-development of edge-enabled solutions in retail, healthcare, entertainment, etc. It will use Google’s edge points of presence across AT&T’s 5G network, plus it’s fibre network. The two companies are seeking to bring the solution to 15+ major cities.

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August: Verizon and AWS expand partnership

This month, Verizon and AWS expanded their partnership to offer Verizon’s 5G Edge cloud computing platform alongside AWS’ Wavelength compute and storage offering to provide 5G mobile edge computing to Chicago, Phoenix and Houston – now reaching 13 of the largest 20 metro areas within the United States. They aim to further expand to the largest 20 metro areas in the US. To further ease integration for patrons, Verizon is offering a 5G Edge Discovery application that finds the best MEC location as a part of their 5G Edge developer portal.

BT Enterprise customers are to benefit from edge streaming analytics due to a collaboration between Ori Industries, KX and BT Innovation Labs to deliver an ultra-low latency offering. Separately, IBM and Scale Computing have partnered to support other organisations to accelerate their own edge computing strategy. This venture combines Scale Computing’s HC3 Edge Computing solution and IBM’s Edge Application Manager to assist clients with their edge infrastructure.

In the United States, the National Science Foundation announced plans to fund eleven new Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes of which two are concentrated on AI for edge computing and networks. The likely recipients of the funding  are the NSF AI Institute for Future Edge Networks and Distributed Intelligence at Ohio State University and the NSF AI Institute for Edge Computing Leveraging Next-Generation Networks at Duke University.

September: Equinix and Nokia team up to provide 5G and Edge Technology Development Centre

Equinix and Nokia have teamed up to provide their 5G and Edge Technology Development Centre. The facility, based at Equinix’s International Business Exchange in Dallas, will provide a sandbox for testing and validating edge and 5G use cases, using Nokia’s non-standalone network. With the offering now deployed, service providers and network operators are being invited to shape the testing roadmap for the next generation of innovative solutions.

AT&T has entered into a multi-year research and development agreement with California’s Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). Over three years, AT&T will work to test applications for multi-access edge compute (MEC) and 5G on vessels with and without crew. The first network-edge nodes are slated to be fully operational “during the first quarter of fiscal year 2022”.

Vertiv, data centre and edge computing technology provider, joined the Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance (SDIA) this month. The Alliance’s goal is to promote the environmental agenda across the IT ecosystem, trying to ensure a sustainable digital future in light of increasing consumption of network and power resources.

October: Open-IX Association (OIX) launch Edge Data Center Certification Program

Open-IX Association (OIX) has launched the Edge Data Center Certification Program (OIX-3) to standardise criteria around design, reliability and connectivity of edge data centres. EdgePresence and VaporIO are the first companies to complete this programme.

KDDI, DT, MobiledgeX, Sturfee and Mawari have teamed up to create an augmented reality (AR) application called Bloom City. This combines remote rendering technology from Mawari, visual positioning from Sturfee, edge platform from MobiledgeX and edge networks from KDDI and Deutsche Telekom. The AR application was developed in conjunction with au VISION STUDIO from KDDI.

VMware launched its edge platform and software capabilities, VMware Edge, which helps enterprise deploy and manage appplications across edges and clouds. This includes a package of hypervisors for edge workloads, virtualisation platform and SASE software for SD-WAN, security, firewalls, etc.

IBM promoted its edge solutions and services at Mobile World Congress Los Angeles. This included a collaboration with Boston Dynamics, which enables data analytics at the edge for use cases such as worker safety, field operations and maintenance. All this with the help of Spot the (agile, mobile robot) dog.

November: Microsoft and AT&T partner to run Azure Edge Zones on AT&T’s 5G network

Microsoft and AT&T have partnered to run Azure Edge Zones on AT&T’s 5G network. Enterprises will be able to sign up to access the 5G edge network to run use cases. This follows a succesful POC in Los Angeles, they are beginning with a soft launch in Atlanta which will be followed by Dallas and other major metropolitan areas.

AWS has launched a new out-of-the-box private 5G solution for enterprises, equipment is delivered to customers for them to set up themselves in a few minutes. The solution runs on shared spectrum (such as CBRS in the US) and will run on a cloud-based pricing model meaning enterprises do not have any upfront capital expenses or device charges and only pay for the capacity they need.

AWS has also partnered with Nasdaq to build the next generation of cloud-enabled infrastructure for global capital markets at the edge. Nasdaq will migrate its North American market to AWS from the beginning of 2022, and the partnership hopes to leverage AWS’s capabilities to explore anti-financial crime, data and analytics, and market infrastructure software solutions.

NVIDIA unveiled a new AI accelerator for robotics and edge devices at their global AI conference GTC. The Jetson AGX Orin is able to process 200 trillion operations per second at the edge, and is already powering NVIDIA’s new edge healthcare platform, Clara Holoscan.

December: Alef launches Alef Velocity Partners, a new partner ecosystem for technology companies, SIs and channel partners

Alef has launched Alef Velocity Partners, a new partner ecosystem for technology companies, SIs and channel partners. It aims to catalyse the edge computing industry and already has commitments from Tech Mahindra, Syniverse, Dell Technologies and more.

Not a month goes by without a major US operator and a hyperscaler making an announcement. In November we saw AT&T and Microsoft launch Azure Edge Zones in Atlanta. In December, Verizon and Google Cloud announced they will partner to deliver Google Distributed Cloud Edge on Verizon’s 5G network. This offering will combine private 5G with on-premise edge computing and a smart factory with AMRs and smart inventory management and tracking will be its first testing ground.

While we’ve seen the majority of announcements in edge computing focused on specific countries in EMEA, APAC and USA, there is evidence now of edge data centre companies looking to widen their footprint. EdgeConneX have made a strategic investment in China-based data center company Chayora, meanwhile Equinix have acquired MainOne, a key player in the African market.

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