GSMA Telco Edge Cloud turns to MobiledgeX to take ownership of the edge marketplace
With the recent announcement that China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, EE, KDDI, Orange, Singtel, SK Telecom, Telefonica and TIM are working together, with the support of GSMA, to develop an interoperable platform to make edge compute capabilities widely and easily available, it’s clear that telecoms operators see significant potential in mobile edge computing, writes George Malim.
The new platform, to be developed during 2020 and called the Telco Edge Cloud Platform, will make local operator assets and capabilities, such as low latency connectivity, compute and storage available to application developers and software vendors enabling them to fulfil the needs of enterprise clients.
The concept hinges on enabling operators to aggregate edge capabilities as a means to monetise investment in LTE and 5G infrastructure and relies on federating edge capabilities to enable global services to enterprises. Deutsche Telekom has been a pioneer and founded MobiledgeX, which is building a marketplace of edge resources and services that will connect developers with the world’s largest mobile networks to power the next generation of applications and devices.
“We’re born out of a telco to serve telcos,” explains Eric Braun, the chief commercial officer of MobiledgeX. “We were set up to partner with all the tier one telcos, even those that compete in-country with Deutsche Telekom, like Telefonica and Vodafone, for example. When you think about edge from the product point of view, we focus on the demand side and have three types of customers: device makers, application developers and enterprise solution providers.”
The idea is to make telco assets and capabilities available to these three groups and do so in a way that enables telcos to monetise their networks. “When you think of the global community of telcos and what they do well, they are a set of assets from sites to networks and have a set of application programme interfaces (APIs) to service this,” Braun adds. “Containerisation and operating system virtualisation of underlying structures has made it much easier for developers to deploy on a single source to any location worldwide. What telecoms doesn’t have and where aggregation comes in is that the market is fragmented, you’re looking at 160 different provider with more than a million subscribers and to get to all of them isn’t possible.”
Braun explains that MobiledgeX is aggregating locations and their underlying systems and presenting them in a single abstracted interface. The company works will the telecoms equipment vendors from network OEMs to systems integrators and software companies to certify and standardise the MobiledgeX software on the different platforms involved.
“It was absolutely the intent always for us to have no bias preference among partners,” Braun says. “We’re not looking to be a vendor to telcos, we’re providing a push to monetise existing investments in Industry 4.0, NFV infrastructure (NFVI) and to help justify the business case for 5G.”
The Telco Edge Cloud Project is an early fruit of the work MobiledgeX has done. “The announcement validates that we’ve been doing what we said we’d do,” Braun confirms. “If you look at the genesis and participants, you’re looking at how operators can establish and maintain a large role in the marketplace of edge. The hyperscalers are coming in now but this isn’t about GSMA and the telcos alone, this is all in the spirit of co-operation, not protectionism. It’s about how do we partner from every angle.”
Claudia Nemat, the board member for Technology & Innovation at Deutsche Telekom, adds: “Edge Cloud has an exciting potential to enable and enhance many innovative experiences for our customers. I welcome this operator initiative to take ownership of the edge opportunity by joining forces to deliver our capabilities in a federated edge service. Using MobiledgeX as platform partner and aggregator in the federation puts operators on the best track to create scale, bring in the developer community and make a market impact.”
The Telecom Edge Cloud Project is using MobiledgeX’s most recent release, Edge-Cloud R20 as the enabling platform. The product aggregates edge processing power across multiple enterprise on-premise and telecoms network locations, and presents them through one common interface that application developers and independent software vendors (ISVs) use to design, deploy and manage their applications. The company says this enables businesses to manage their digital operations seamlessly across distributed locations independently of the underlying network ownership or systems. Any containerized or virtualised applications developed in a public cloud that has low latency, offload, location or data ownership requirements can use the Edge-Cloud R2.0 console to onboard and deploy seamlessly to either or both public and private edge locations.