Edge cloud will drive new revenue opportunities for not just telecom carriers, but also for hyperscalers, and will even allow governments to reduce high-speed connectivity to distant parts of the country by placing content closer to end-users, humans and machines, where it is both created and consumed.
The year 2020 has been marked as the year of COVID-19 pandemic. As remote working became the norm and video conferences replaced physical meetings, networks have experienced new levels of demands. As we head into 2021, more and more everyday experiences are turning digital. Thanks to a deeper push towards digitization due to the pandemic, consumers globally have increasingly embraced technologies that have been around for over a decade. Telemedicine and online learning are some examples. These technologies have existed for a long time but changing consumer habits are opening up opportunities for service providers to modernize their network strategies and consider Edge Cloud to enable these digital experiences.
Networks Getting Edge-y
Edge Cloud can be defined as a cloud ecosystem, which is located physically closer to end-users, humans and machines, encompassing compute and storage assets coupled to highly scalable and programmable networking components. For example, when you’re watching a cricket match, Edge Cloud helps to enable a lower latency experience so you don’t miss a pitch.
By moving to the Edge Cloud, operators are already augmenting their network capacities without making massive capital investments. Operators are increasingly adopting Edge Cloud to boost their capabilities. Recent research by ResearchAndMarkets.com found that the annual global edge data center services will increase by more than $7 billion by 2024. Indian carriers are set to gain significantly by mirroring this global trend and re-architecting their networks to incorporate Edge Cloud.
Moreover, when 5G services start to roll out in India, the investments in edge locations will also enable operators to deliver on the bold promises of 5G. Edge Cloud offers so much that not just operators but even major hyperscalers are betting big on Edge Cloud. These cloud vendors are leveraging their deep technology capabilities to improve the delivery of new services and applications to the users. In doing so, they sometimes compete with network operators.
Technologies have existed for a long time but changing consumer habits are opening up opportunities for service providers to modernize their network strategies and consider Edge Cloud to enable these digital experiences
This year more than ever, due to the rise of cloud-based digital experiences in our remote era, we will see network operators and hyperscalers working in collaboration. While operators are set to gain from the ability to deliver new next-generation capabilities through such partnerships, hyperscalers can leverage the vast telco networks and jointly sell their cloud services. Together, they also have the opportunity to deliver new types of services. For example, Reliance Jio partnered with Microsoft Azure and Bharti Airtel has partnered with Amazon Web Services to offer data center services, managed services and cloud services to Indian enterprises, startups, SMEs and governments.
Programmable Networks To Augment Edge Cloud
While Edge Cloud transforms the physical design of the network, programmable networks bring additional agility, reliability, and visibility into the networks. Operators have already started deploying data-driven analytics to monitor and track the health of their networks. However, in 2021, we expect operators to move towards networks that can adapt to roll out services faster, detect and even proactively address faults, before they occur, without any human intervention. This ensures a stringent service level agreement for optimized overall quality of experience for end-users.
Such a move allows operators to better manage network congestion by dynamically allocating capacity across any path intelligently, and in real-time.
Applications To Benefit From Edge Cloud
New age applications such as smart manufacturing, cloud gaming, or even autonomous vehicles require extremely reliable and low latency networks. As India works towards its ambition of becoming a global manufacturing hub, 5G-powered industrial robots promise to transform manufacturing. The functions of robots will be carefully controlled by local computing resources that use data-driven machine learning and AI to detect defects identified in the manufacturing process and adjust accordingly in near real-time.
This low-latency network enabled through Edge Cloud will be required to ensure low manufacturing defects and maximize the safety of local workers.
Similarly, cloud gaming is gaining massive traction in India as it allows gamers to play their favourite games without spending huge amounts on consoles and high-end PCs. Telemedicine is finally taking wings and allowing patients in the country’s remotest parts to access the best of doctors and treatments. All this will require high-speed, low-latency access networks.
The year 2021 may well turn out to be Edge Cloud's year as the telcos march towards new technologies like 5G and gear up to address the growing demands of the new-age customer.