Edge computing ecosystem & value chain

What is the edge computing ecosystem tool?

Many of our clients have been asking us who are going to the be their partners, suppliers and competitors in the edge computing ecosystem. In reality, this will depend on which part of the value chain a particular organisation chooses to play in, as well as “which edge” we are talking about: network/multi-access edge, on-premises/enterprise edge, etc.

To help answer this question, we have created an interactive tool that maps out where different companies are positioned across the ecosystem.

Please note that this is a live tool that we will be iterating going forward. Any feedback would be appreciated, do feel free to email us directly: dalia.adib@stlpartners.com

What is the edge computing value chain?

We have defined the following framework for the edge computing value chain

  • Facility: The physical site that includes the land/location for the edge data centre (e.g. area around mobile operator’s cell tower), the data centre itself, power and cooling to support it and additional services to maintain and operate the site.
  • Hardware: This includes the hardware inside the data centre (racks, servers, processors and the maintenance and operators for these) as well as end-devices.
  • Network: Connectivity infrastructure to and from the edge site, as well as traffic routing controls and types of networks to optimise the delivery of content (e.g. CDN).
  • Cloud Infrastructure:Virtual infrastructure supporting the edge workloads and applications, from the operating system, the virtualisation layer (which may be container-based), and the platforms for developers to access and manage the storage and compute infrastructure.
  • Application/Software: Applications that run on edge computing infrastructure, including network functions, and the application-specific tools that support these, for example analytics capabilities or APIs and platform-as-a-service products.
  • Integration & Services: Services that provide support to the customer employing and integrating edge computing at any stage of the value chain – including design and engineering services to create platforms for edge computing applications, or more traditional integration into existing (enterprise) systems.
  • Open Source & Forums: Communities that seek to accelerate edge computing – either by creating forums for discussion across stakeholders and industry partners or open platforms to enable developers to build technology.

Who are the biggest players in the edge computing market?

The edge computing ecosystem is still nascent and one of the challenges is that there are players from different ecosystems coming together: the service providers from the networks, cloud and data centre providers, traditional enterprise IT and industrial applications and systems.

The hyperscalers have a strong established presence in the cloud already and have already made some movements towards the edge via new products and services such as Azure Stack, AWS Outposts and their IoT offerings. We argue that the edge cloud cannot be standalone and will be an extension of the cloud on a distributed cloud continuum, therefore established cloud providers will undoubtedly be important in this ecosystem.

However, the edge is not homogenous and different use cases may have specific requirements which will be served by others – whether they are industry-specific, or more localised offerings. Plus, there are new capabilities that will be required, for example orchestrating workloads across different clouds, optimising networks for this distributed architecture and developing applications that benefit from edge computing.

About Dalia Adib

Edge computing practice lead

Dalia is the Edge Computing Practice Lead at STL Partners and has led major consulting projects with Tier-1 operators in Europe and Asia Pacific on edge computing strategies, use cases and commercial models. She co-authored the research report “Edge Computing: Five Viable Business Models” and has been an active speaker at events including Edge Europe and Data Cloud Congress. Outside of edge computing, she supports clients in areas such as 5G, blockchain, digital transformation and IoT.

Read more about Edge Compute


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