Being relevant in the edge ecosystem: top capabilities for service providers
For many service providers, the edge computing opportunity will massively enhance their enterprise offering. As an enabler for many new use cases, within the Internet of Things (IoT) space, new services enabled by edge computing will be increasingly bundled with other enterprise offerings, such as dedicated networks.
The edge application ecosystem is largely driven by players outside of the telecom industry, since many solutions require specific domain knowledge from players in other areas. As a result, telecom network functions will be accessible to third party application developers and providers.
Edge infrastructure will host a multitude of industry and consumer applications, each with specific characteristics and needs. That’s why a new ecosystem is emerging and it’s crucial for service providers to be able to position themselves as a relevant partner. In this blog post, I outline the four most important capabilities needed to be successful.
Exposure is a vital function that defines what can be securely exposed through application programming interfaces (APIs) to third party application ecosystems, such as hyperscale cloud providers or operations technology vendors. Service exposure is important for creating a good developer experience, and allows service providers to differentiate the services, capabilities and characteristics they offer through easy-to-consume APIs. Getting this right will make service providers attractive to ecosystem partners since they already have distributed infrastructures in place, advanced connectivity solutions and – to varying degrees – strong relations with enterprise customers who want to take advantage of 5G and everything it has to offer.
Orchestration is essential for managing applications and network resources across data center locations, from enterprise premises throughout the network to hyperscale cloud providers. Good orchestration is important for meeting high quality expectations from customers, and is a key capability that service providers can offer in the ecosystem. The orchestration layer in the edge computing architecture (see illustration below) provides a harmonized single orchestration and management functionality over the different orchestration functions and is used to manage platforms for both telecom and non-telecom workloads according to service level agreements.
A consumption-based business model
To be able to deploy services in a cost-efficient way with financial predictability, using a consumption-based business model is recommended – both for service providers and their enterprise customers. There shouldn’t be any flat fee schemes when providing services, and the technology shouldn’t put any restrictions on the business model. With a consumption-based business model, enterprise customers only pay for the network and telecom cloud functions and resources that they’ve actually used.
Service providers can adopt different roles in the value chain depending on the services they deliver and their position in the market. The roles can be categorized based on whether service providers want to build edge solutions, and whether they want to front the enterprise. Fronting the enterprise means that CSPs have more than the relationship for connectivity, but also the relationship to influence the enterprise choice of edge deployment setup. In addition, CSPs commit to SLAs. Ericsson has identified the following roles in an edge telecom ecosystem:
- Full edge
- Partner edge
- Aggregator edge
- Limited edge
These roles are not mutually exclusive. It’s possible for each service provider to play several different roles, or a combination of them, in their enterprise strategy in order to play their strengths. In the full edge case, for example, the service provider offers a complete solution and commits to service level agreements, while in the limited edge case, the focus is on providing connectivity and/or co-location services. The partner edge and aggregator edge cases are in between full edge and limited edge in terms of solution involvement and responsibility.
With increasing interest in new use cases and services like smart manufacturing, virtual reality and enhanced online gaming experiences, there is a clear need for edge solutions. Service providers can play an important role in delivering these new services and others with edge computing and 5G.
Service providers possess several valuable assets for edge ecosystems to be able to develop and offer innovative solutions for the vast number of industries currently accelerating their digitalization efforts. By deploying open and standards-based solutions, they are in a great position to provide enterprise services for more productive, profitable and sustainable businesses.
Enterprises need edge-enabled services, and they are expected to make a significant impact on businesses around the world. However, this isn’t a “we’ll build it, and they’ll come” situation – service providers need to actively engage with enterprise customers and nurture these ecosystem partnerships.
View this video on how to succeed with edge solutions.
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