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Why carriers are turning to edge computing

Why carriers are turning to edge computing

Schneider Electric - As we draw to the start of 2021, there is no question that momentum for the deployment of digital transformation (DX) is growing. Driven by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and evolving government restrictions on travel and movement, demand for colocation is increasing. Elsewhere, the forced adoption of video conferencing in place of physical meetings, and the proliferation of cloud-based tools have similarly contributed to heightened demand for network.

The rollout of 5G networks globally will be another consideration driving carriers towards edge computing. To understand the demand drivers, Schneider Electric worked with tech publication Heavy Reading and two technology companies to survey over 90 global telco service providers about their plans for edge computing. Below are some of the key findings.

A growing move to edge computing

According to the study, the move towards edge computing solutions is no longer at the nascent stages. Telecommunication providers are either already deploying or are planning to deploy edge computing solutions. The findings are notable, given that up to 19 per cent of those surveyed hail from the Asia Pacific or Australia.

The demand for edge is likely driven by an evolving telecommunication landscape, with technologies such as 5G, Wi-Fi 6, and a growing shift to cloud computing seen as having the most impact. Other driving factors include a gradual shift towards open and industry-standard infrastructure and a growing demand for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

In addition, demand for application and workload acceleration is resulting in the rise of bespoke white box-plus solutions with specialised field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) to handle compute-intensive processes and alleviate the pressure on CPU cores.

When it comes to 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will be critical to managing costs and supporting the hundreds (or thousands) of new 5G cell sites. Indeed, AI is expected to play a pivotal role in the establishing of zero-touch provisioning and lights-out data centres.

Impact of the edge

For now, the impact of edge computing on existing business models was deemed “significant” or “radical” for some 40 per cent of respondents. This is projected to increase to 88 per cent within five years, which means that a surge in future edge deployments is inevitable.

But what are the top challenges that service providers face with edge computing? One significant barrier that service providers face in edge deployments is the cost of deploying them, with concerns over both capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operational expenditure (OPEX).

The fact that cost is identified as a challenge is worth noting, as it is an atypical concern for Heavy Reading’s survey base. Edge deployments that can be done more affordably or maintained cost-effectively will quickly get the attention of service providers.

Ultimately, the survey shows that service providers are compelled by improved efficiencies in network operations and application performance with edge computing. This is particularly so in industry verticals and niche applications that demand low-latency response times.

Interested to learn more about demand for edge computing? The full report titled “Edge Computing in Telco Networks” can be downloaded here (Free registration required).

Article by Bhagwati Prasad, Vice President, Business Development, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric

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