5 Ways to Get Your Edge On

What and where is the edge, and how can CSPs take advantage of it?

Starburst showing while looking down on sky scrappers

Research shows that edge computing investments will reach $208 billion in 2023, and this pace of growth is forecast to be sustained through 2026 when spending will reach $317 billion.  This growth points to the increased demand for edge use cases, which account for 20 percent of spending across multivendor offerings in support of industrywide digital transformation initiatives. 

The edge is essential to the success of next-generation 5G networks and services, but what and where is the edge? Depending on context and perspective, the edge may carry a different meaning. Here are five fundamental ways to get your edge on:

  1. Know the Edge

    The network edge defines a place in the network where a device or local area network (LAN) connects to the internet. It is called the “edge” because this is the entry point to the network where devices are communicating with the internet. The edge will serve as transaction corridors enabling various technology stakeholders to maintain network infrastructures and performance while using hybrid network offerings to provide latency and reliability for business and mission-critical use cases.

  2. Locate the Edge

    The edge can be found at four physical locations: network, device, on premises, and regional.

    • Network defines an area located outside the core of the mobile network. It can be associated with multiple locations, such as regional data centers, central offices, access points, base stations, and the radio access network (RAN). It can also include on-premises locations with universal customer premises equipment (uCPE) devices where applications can be hosted.
    • Device represents workloads running directly on physical hardware that is connected to an edge computing platform—for example, smart speakers, watches, Internet of Things (IoT sensors, and smart cameras.
    • On premises supports resources that are physically located on site—for example, an IoT gateway or an on-premises data center. These computing resources are important when customers need all their data to remain on their own premises because of sensitive or proprietary information.
    • Regional ensures co-location services and represents small carrier-neutral data centers or internet exchanges located near a tier-two or tier-three city.
  3. Compute the Edge

    The edge is the host for various applications with business/mission critical workloads. The edge primarily provides the necessary compute processing of data to reduce inefficiencies, increase bandwidth and throughput, and ensure latency requirements and reliability for a better end-user experience. Edge computing makes it possible for the network to deliver outcomes for use cases with the required quality of service. Communications service providers (CSPs) refer to this compute at the edge as mobile edge computing or multi-access edge computing (MEC). MEC is a key enabler for 5G networks, extending the capabilities of cloud computing to the network edge.

  4. Evolve the Edge

    Traditional cloud infrastructures cannot meet the demands of a dynamic 5G network and will need to evolve into a more agile and distributed architecture to support the performance and quality of experience required at the edge. This new architecture is called edge cloud. To increase support for a cloud-native ecosystem and to accelerate edge cloud deployment, many CSPs have partnered with hyper-scalers to build edge cloud architectures to readily support enterprise vertical business use cases.

  5. Speak the Edge

    Language is access. Learning any language outside of your native tongue provides leverage with speakers of that language. Similarly, in every field, there are terms or “code speak” that can immediately deliver understanding around a subject or problem. Learning to “speak the edge” will empower organizations and cross-functional teams with a positive advantage, increase problem-solving efficiency, and ultimately improve the user experience.

Complexity at the Edge

Because the edge will host countless transaction corridors while carrying business/mission-critical orchestrated workloads, it is a hub for complexity: Every workload must be guaranteed with latency and reliability to meet the optimum quality of service (QoS). For CSPs, ensuring success at the edge comes with additional challenges:

  • Digital transformation: New complexities with digital transformation, 5G, and emerging technologies continue to introduce complications within the network ecosystem—for example, Open RAN, artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), and the need for automation.
  • Business initiatives: Existing network performance must be sustained to ensure quality of service, while new network initiatives must continue to ensure performance and innovation and increase the opportunities to adopt new revenue paths.
  • Vendor tools: The right tools can mean success. Scalable cloud-based tools using AI, ML, and automation offer robust opportunities for proactive problem-solving and real-time reporting with insights to innovate.
  • Enterprise domain knowledge: Uncovering broader priorities for enterprise vertical edge use cases compels CSPs to collaborate with external partners (cloud providers, content providers, and system integrators) to establish domain knowledge in support of business-critical application and use cases for specific areas—for example, private 5G, MEC, and IoT.

Recent use cases supporting edge adventures include cloud gaming, automated guided vehicles (AGV), and video. For CSPs, MEC and 5G promise to provide opportunities to generate as much as $700 billion of 5G-enabled, business-to-business value by 2030.

Reliability at the Edge with NETSCOUT

With decades of experience in the industry and a scalable cloud-based platform, NETSCOUT provides a best-in-class solution that can empower CSPs to build out their networks and achieve success at the edge. Our Visibility Without Borders approach works with any cloud, any network, any service, and any technology and gives CSPs the confidence to innovate. Our solution provides visibility into any network’s performance and supports open cloud-based and hybrid networks. Based on universally available network packets, our Smart Data insights are 3GPP-compliant and support multigenerational networks in an independent and open manner—physical, hybrid, and cloud.

Learn more about NETSCOUT 5G offerings.