Edge computing news in 2020

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.

January: Big acquisitions from Apple and Equinix

At the end of January, Apple announced its acquisition of Xnor.ai, an AI-at-the-edge start-up (see here for our recent article on AI and edge computing). Typically, training and inference of a deep learning model happens either in the cloud. Xnor.ai has developed an AI module that can run deep learning inference on-device. Apple’s acquisition of Xnor.ai strengthens their position in the IoT and edge computing markets, as well as providing opportunities around real-time adaptability, photo editing and increased privacy for their smart phones and smart home “HomeKit” offering.

In addition, January also saw Equinix announce its acquisition of Packet, a bare metal automation platform. In combination with their existing Platform Equinix, the acquisition of Packet will enable Equinix to vertically integrate up the value chain and better provide distributed multi-cloud services to enterprises, regardless of whether or not they are virtualised. Packet will also bring to Equinix closer to its strong customer base of developers, a relationship that STL Partners has highlighted previously is of crucial importance

February: No MWC, no problem

Despite the unfortunate cancellation of MWC, we’ve seen some key edge-related announcements in the last few weeks.

First, a new telco edge initiative. Some of the leading telecoms operators have joined forces to build the “Telco Edge Cloud Platform” with support from the GSMA. Operators including China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Singtel and Telefónica announced the collaboration to create an interoperable platform to accelerate developments in the edge computing sphere.

We’ve also noted a few companies (virtually) launch edge-specific products and solutions – some we may have missed! For example, Dell Technologies announced four new edge data centre products: modular micro data centre for rugged environments, specialised server for small spaces, a data platform and server software.

Huawei unveiled 5GDN – a cloud native platform 5G core network solution. It leverages MEC, core network automation and intelligent slicing to enable deterministic networking. The vendor emphasised its efforts to develop a new edge ecosystem. Given Huawei is building its own operating system and already heavily engaging the mobile app developer ecosystem, it could play a key role in the edge space going forward…

March: Google and Microsoft eye up the edge; COVID-19 can’t stop new (virtual) edge communities

Although Google kicked the month off by announcing their network edge play – Anthos for Telecom – Microsoft stole the spotlight the last few weeks with a slew of announcements.
Google’s Anthos has been developed as a platform to manage workloads between on-premise data centres and the cloud. In the short term this is likely to be tested first with AT&T’s 5G edge computing solutions for industries like retail, manufacturing and transportation. Google also announced partnerships with Amdocs and Netcracker to run telco IT, OSS and BSS applications in Google Cloud.
Microsoft announced the acquisition of Affirmed Networks late in March, suggesting that they see opportunities to use Azure for telcos’ own network functions as well as for enterprise applications. It is not yet clear whether telcos will now have to run Affirmed’s solutions (e.g. for vEPC) off Microsoft’s stack. They then announced Azure Edge Zones which allows access to Azure services at edge locations.
Outside of the hyperscalers, we’ve seen new edge ecosystems and initiatives being established. Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance have launched a series of activities looking to establish a common hybrid cloud architecture. Meanwhile, MobiledgeX launched their edge community Seamster on 1st April, aiming to unite enterprises, developers and operators to explore the edge computing opportunity holistically.

 

April: Co-opetition is the new competition as AlefEdge partners with Microsoft, Altran with Ori, and Google pushes on with multi-cloud

Microsoft has had a flurry of edge-related announcements, the most recent being its partnership with AlefEdge. AlefEdge has its own Edge Cloud platform that can be deployed at various edge sites: on-premises, in telco network facilities and at the tower edge. But, the company has also been developing edge applications – notably Alef AdVision, a solution for real-time, contextual advertising. It is partnering with Azure to accelerate its go-to-market and launch the solution at Azure Edge Zones globally.
Ori, an edge platform company, and Altran, who announced their MEC developer capabilities back in 2018, have announced a partnership to collaborate on a developer-centric initiative for “federated multi-access edge computing”. This involves leveraging their partnerships with mobile operators, who are seeking to build their edge compute offering.
Google has announced that Anthos – its multi-cloud platform first introduced 2 years ago – is now generally available. Anthos can run on the Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), allowing customers to manage workloads across on-premises, Google cloud and other clouds. It is currently available on AWS, with Microsoft Azure in preview

May: Microsoft continues to strengthen its presence in edge computing

Yet another acquisition for Microsoft, this time of Metaswitch, an NFV pioneer. Followingacquisitions of Affirmed Networks last month, Microsoft is now set to further bolster its role inthe telecoms market, although both these acquistions focus more on building networkcapabilities than edge per se. Edge and CDN company Fastly announce a developer hub for edge innovation. Thenew hub provides tools for edge computing developers. The two main features highlightedare a sandboxed testing environment (Fastly Fiddle) and enhanced search parameters.Supermicro partners with NodeWeaver and NetFoundry to offer intelligent retail edge. The edge platform is designed for ease of use, harnessing Nodeweaver’s adaptive hypervisorand NetFoundry’s zero trust networking capabilities.

June: AWS unveils Snowcone & Vodafone Germany launches 5G network-in-a-box

One of the biggest edge announcements this month was Amazon Web Services’ unveiling of AWS Snowcone, which looks like AWS’s alternative to Azure Stack Edge Rugged. Significantly smaller than AWS Outposts and Snowball Edge, it can be easily carried in backpacks, say for first responders, or for IoT, vehicular or drone use cases. AWS is also touting it as a private LTE solution, partnering with CommScope on CBRS.

Vodafone Germany has launched a 5G campus network-in-a-box solution in partnership with Ericsson. Vodafone Redbox works both indoor and outdoor, and can be deployed to leverage Vodafone’s mobile communications infrastructure. The operator has so far tested it with partners ranging from individual petrol stations to automotive factories.

Other news includes Schneider Electric’s partnership with Aveva and Lenovo for industrial edge computing solutions, and Digital Realty and Vapor IO’s announcement of a joint core-to-edge solution in Atlanta, Chicago, and Dallas. Plus, HPE is poised to support telcos provide edge computing services, having launched its HPE Edge Orchestrator.

July: AWS unveils Snowcone & Vodafone Germany launches 5G network-in-a-box

One of the biggest edge announcements this month was Amazon Web Services’ unveiling of AWS Snowcone, which looks like AWS’s alternative to Azure Stack Edge Rugged . Significantly smaller than AWS Outposts and Snowball Edge, it can be easily carried in backpacks, say for first responders, or for IoT, vehicular or drone use cases. AWS is also touting it as a private LTE solution , partnering with CommScope on CBRS.

Vodafone Germany has launched a 5G campus network-in-a-box solution in partnership with Ericsson. Vodafone Redbox works both indoor and outdoor, and can be deployed to leverage Vodafone’s mobile communications infrastructure. The operator has so far tested it with partners ranging from individual petrol stations to automotive factories.

Other news includes Schneider Electric’s partnership with Aveva and Lenovo for industrial edge computing solutions, and Digital Realty and Vapor IO’s announcement of a joint core-to-edge solution in Atlanta, Chicago, and Dallas. Plus, HPE is poised to support telcos provide edge computing services, having launched its HPE Edge Orchestrator .

August: Tower companies continue to make their presence known in edge computing

American Tower follow closely behind Cellnex in making our edge in the news. They have announced deployments of edge data centres at their tower sites in six different cities. American Tower say this will help customers work with a single trusted partner for ‘both tower and edge data colocation’.

Edge computing is one of the three core pillars which the newly announced Google and Orange partnership will focus on. The collaboration will help deliver cloud capabilities at the edge of Orange’s network to support new edge-enables services for enterprise and consumer customers.

Wipro, in partnership with IBM, announced the launch of their new 5G edge services suite. The offering is designed to help Wipro customers – primarily CSPs and tower operators in this instance – manage applications on edge infrastructure better.

September: Signs of edge computing market maturing; advances in telco-cloud partnerships and another big acquisition

Having announced the partnership around Wavelength back in November, AWS and Verizon formally launched the 5G mobile edge computing offering in Boston and the Bay Area in August. Some of industries they seem to be targeting by working with developers include healthcare (Avesha’s polyp detection platform), entertainment/sports (real-time betting) and manufacturing. 

AT&T countered this announcement with their own later in the month, promoting progress with IBM to create edge cloud and networking services for enterprises. IBM is harnessing its own and the Red Hat capabilities to bring together IBM Cloud, as well as OpenShift.

In the M&A space, EQT Infrastructure announced it has firmed a deal to acquire EdgeConneX, a (regional) edge data centre company with over 40 facilities in 33 markets. The deal has been estimated to be worth around $2.5 billion and demonstrates the infrastructure fund’s commitment to investing in digital infrastructure companies.

October: Hardware consolidation on the horizon? Plus partnerships for edge and network infrastructure

NVIDIA has stated the ambition to acquire ARM from SoftBank in a deal estimated to be worth $40bn, bringing together NVIDIA’s edge AI platform and the UK-based chip designer. There has been concern expressed by some that the deal will fuel an anti-competitive environment in the chip market, as many of ARM’s clients view themselves as competitors of NVIDIA.

Schneider Electric unveiled a wall-mounted ‘Edge in a Box’ solution in collaboration with Alliance Partners StarMagic and HPE. Designed for sites with limited space, it aims to fulfil demand for a small, lightweight, ultra-low latency edge solution. Schneider Electric also trialled two industrial 5G use cases (AR and mobile robots) in a French factory, in partnership with Orange.

Vapor IO and AlefEdge have teamed up to provide enterprise customers with edge computing over wireless networks. Vapor IO’s Kinetic Edge infrastructure and Alef Edge’s SD-ME platform will serve enterprise customers needing edge solutions delivering ultra-low latency and high bandwidth.

 

Tilly Gilbert

 

About Tilly Gilbert

Senior consultant

Tilly works on a range of client projects including developing a benchmarking tool to determine customers’ digital engagement with telcos, as well as projects on AI and data analytics. She has a BA in English Literature and Language from Oxford University and an MA in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania.

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