Ericsson’s Edge Gravity Head Focuses on Service Providers

Ericsson’s Edge Gravity Head Focuses on Service Providers

This article appeared on SDXCentral on June 25, 2019.

Ericsson’s Edge Gravity organization, a business charged with building out an edge cloud ecosystem for service providers, has a new leader. Kyle Okamoto, formerly the chief network officer at Verizon Digital Media Services, joined the company this week to lead an effort designed to help operators diversify their service portfolio and gain more revenue from their network investments.

During a phone interview on his second day on the job, Okamoto described edge as a “high performance, low latency, very sensitive” layer for application delivery. Autonomous vehicles, virtual reality, gaming, and use cases not yet defined all fall under that umbrella, he explained.

There’s a lot of interest and activity in the edge, but Edge Gravity is unique because it’s an edge cloud platform that is multi-tenant and built exclusively around service providers, Okamoto said. “[Operators] are really the heart and soul of the partnerships that Edge Gravity has built a foundation upon” and it allows service providers to facilitate more revenue out of the work and investments they put into building out network infrastructure.

The organization has commitments from more than 90 network operators and more partners in digital media and content delivery. “Our engineers work with their engineers, our network teams work with their network teams, we find out how deep to go in the walled gardens of these networks to get the best bang for our buck, and we partner on the technology stack,” he said.

Edge computing is a “budding space” that shares similarities with the advancements delivered by HTML 20 years ago, and HTTP a decade ago, Okamoto said. “This is the next wave. … Service providers want to participate. They don’t want to be paying for the sins of the past.”

More Than a Pipe

For some operators that is still very much the present. When video providers like YouTube and Netflix gained popularity “[network operators] were simply a pipe, they were the infrastructure that these over-the-top video providers played on and were not participating in the value chain,” Okamoto said.

Edge computing presents operators with new infrastructure and a cloud platform to derive revenue more directly, Okamoto explained. “I don’t necessarily think that service providers are trying to control anything. I think they’re trying to create an environment where innovation can happen at their benefit, not their behest.”

Spectrum and network deployments are complex and increasingly expensive so it stands to reason that operators are eager to get more return on those efforts as they push toward 5G, he said. “You can’t just be in the business of laying fiber and standing up cell towers and charging people for data. You need to be in the business of enabling experiences and monetizing that with value-added services in the form of applications.”

Operators are approaching this period of network transition as an opportunity to pivot to and provide more innovative solutions that are enabled by that technology rather than simply building a network, Okamoto added. “I think that’s a very compelling paradigm shift. … Service providers are in an excellent position to lead the market on innovation and ideation rather than follow with infrastructure.”

Okamoto is also determined to bring more clarity to the world of IoT. “It’s some super, super vague three-letter acronym that hasn’t been really well defined,” he said. The entire industry is better served when these applications are called out clearly and in the context in which they will be delivered.

“Once they start to put a name on it, it’s a thing. It’s not a concept, it’s not an idea, it’s not a future thing,” he said. “I think there’s still a lot of things to come out of that vague IoT bucket that we will help our customers monetize.”

– Matt Kapko,

Former Verizon Exec Takes Helm of Ericsson's Edge Gravity

Former Verizon Exec Takes Helm of Ericsson’s Edge Gravity

This article appeared on Light Reading on June 21, 2019

Kyle Okamoto, an exec late of Verizon, took to LinkedIn to announce that he will open a new chapter in his career on Monday (June 24) as CEO of Edge Gravity. That's a new unit within Ericsson that is developing a global edge cloud network in partnership with data center providers, content delivery networks, cable operators, telcos and mobile service providers.

Okamoto is joining Edge Gravity following more than 16 years at Verizon. According to his LinkedIn profile, he most recently served as chief network office and VP of technology and operations at Verizon Digital Media Services (VDMS), a division focused on edge and video streaming management services that includes the Edgecast content delivery network.

Okamoto takes the role previously held by Marcus Bergström, who recently left to become CEO of Sweden-based Vionlabs, a startup that has developed a content recommendations and discovery engine “powered by emotions” and assisted by AI-generated metadata.

Okamoto steps into the lead role more than six months after the formal debut of Edge Gravity, a new unit at Ericsson that is working to install computing resources at the edges of the network, often inside the networks of cable operators and other ISPs, with a big focus on latency-sensitive services and applications.

As part of Ericsson's Technology & Emerging Business unit, the idea is to give Edge Gravity a large degree of autonomy and the kind of agility typically seen in more traditional startup companies. As CEO, Okamoto will be leading a unit with more than 200 employees.

Last month, Edge Gravity, which will grapple with companies such as Deutsche Telekom-backed MobiledgeX, said it counted 22 edge computing sites globally, including 11 locations in the US.

In addition to working with Equinix and Limelight, Edge Gravity's announced partners include Limelight Networks, Rogers Communications, KDDI, Mytel, Telenor,  Veon, Optus, Taiwan Mobile, Telstra Corp., Vodafone, Bharti Airtel, SingTel, Telefónica, NTT DoCoMo, China Unicom, Chunghwa Telecom, Mobiphone and Telkom Indonesia.

– Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

Ericsson Boasts of Progress in CDN-to-Edge Pivot

Ericsson Boasts of Progress in CDN-to-Edge Pivot

This article appeared on Light Reading on May 16, 2019.

Ericsson launched a content delivery network in 2016 called the Unified Delivery Network (UDN) that created a federation of participating service providers, including Telstra and Vodafone. That effort survived Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm's cost-cutting efforts over the past few years, as well as his sale of Ericsson's media business.

Then, late last year, Ericsson rebranded UDN into an edge computing play called Edge Gravity that operates like a startup within Ericsson. Edge Gravity retained the 80 or so operators that had signed up to participate in the UDN, and now is working to expand the number of operators participating while concurrently working to sell Edge Gravity services not only for content delivery but also for edge computing.

“It's real edge stuff happening now,” said Yves Boudreau, the CMO of Ericsson's Edge Gravity. “It's a market that's being created.”

Perhaps the best signal of Ericsson's progress in the edge computing market is its agreement with CDN provider Limelight. For roughly a decade Limelight has operated as a traditional CDN, but in recent years the company has been working to rejuvenate revenues by expanding into related areas including video game streaming and edge computing. Limelight said it would partner with Ericsson late last year, and the company recently announced that it expects 30% year over year revenue growth in the second half of this year, mainly driven by the $7-9 million it expects to generate through its Ericsson Edge Gravity partnership.

“Ericsson knows how these carrier networks work and operate … Ericsson can get up inside these [service provider] networks where we can actually have capacity built inside the network, which can improve latency quite a bit,” said Ersin Galioglu, VP of strategic initiatives at Limelight, adding that Ericsson knows networks while Limelight knows how to make deals with content providers.

Limelight and Ericsson aren't the only players in the CDN space now targeting edge computing: “We have the ability for our customers to run applications on our edge platform. We're increasing the investment there,” said Akamai's Tom Leighton on a recent conference call with investors.

What kinds of companies are buying the edge computing services sold by the likes of Limelight and Ericsson? Real-time video game streaming is certainly one.

Olivier Avaro, CEO of Blacknut, said that the company launched its video-game streaming service in Europe at the beginning of 2018, offering access to around 200 gaming titles for roughly $13 per month. The company plans to expand into the US market in the third quarter of this year through Ericsson's Edge Gravity.

Using Edge Gravity “is really going to improve the stability and performance of the service,” explained Blacknut's Avaro. He said Edge Gravity will help Blacknut reduce user latency by a factor of two, to around 30 ms. Reducing latency, and thereby reducing jitter, gives players the “feeling that the experience is stable and robust,” he said.

Atlanta-based startup Haste is also working with Ericsson on a low-latency service for service providers and targeted to PC gamers. And Network Next is hoping to launch a similar service for video-game companies through a partnership with Limelight.

“The gaming space has been interesting for us,” acknowledged Limelight's Galioglu.

Edge computing has other applications besides gaming. Other applications include drone scanning and gunshot detection. But gaming is certainly the application that's generating the most hype considering Google's planned Stadia launch and Microsoft's ongoing testing of its Project xCloud game streaming service.

The transition from CDN to edge computing hasn't been completely smooth for Ericsson. For example, the company in 2016 boasted that Paramount Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox were among the companies that had joined its CDN. When questioned about those two media giants this week, Ericsson referred questions to Limelight and Limelight referred questions back to Ericsson.

Nonetheless, Ericsson's Boudreau boasts that Edge Gravity represents part of the vendor's attempts to ensure its service provider customers can remain relevant in an increasingly tumultuous telecom industry. “It's not just about the AT&T network anymore. It's about the Verizon network, the AT&T network, the T-Mobile network, the Vodafone network, the Telstra network — it's about a global network. And so when people try to access those networks ubiquitously across the world, but they're all operated by a thousand different operators, it makes it quite challenging to leverage and harness the potential of those networks. So how can we help?”

As Boudreau explained, Edge Gravity is a way for Ericsson to get access into carrier networks through a revenue-share model that then helps operators fund the construction of additional infrastructure — infrastructure that Ericsson is surely happy to supply.

Edge Gravity currently counts around 22 edge computing sites globally, including 11 locations in the US. Those sites are mainly inside Equinix data centers connected through Ericsson's MPLS network. But Boudreau said Ericsson's goal is to grow the number of computing sites within the Edge Gravity network by adding operators' existing computing sites into the service. For example, he said AT&T currently counts 5,000 central office computing locations, each of which could be added into Edge Gravity's edge computing service. Doing so would essentially create computing locations that are more geographically dispersed, thus lowering latency by moving computing resources physically closer to end users.

However, Boudreau acknowledged that Edge Gravity faces an uphill climb in its efforts to entice operators to join its cause. He said operators in the US have been hesitant to sign on to Edge Gravity. Currently, TDS Telecom and U.S. Cellular in the US are listed as supporting Edge Gravity, and Boudreau said Ericsson is working to add additional operators, but he declined to provide details.

In that respect, Ericsson sits in relatively the same position as other edge computing hopefuls, such as MobiledgeX, that are working to collect and unify edge computing sites from wireless operators into a cohesive and comprehensive edge computing service that can then be sold to cloud gaming companies and other developers and customers. So far though, heavyweights like AT&T and Verizon appear to be keeping their edge computing options open rather than signing on with any one particular vendor. Already Verizon has promised to launch its own mobile edge computing service later this year.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies,

Edge Cloud - Powering Digital Transformation

Equinix Builds ‘Network Edge’ for Global NFV

This article appeared on Light Reading on Feb 27, 2019

Equinix is launching a global NFV infrastructure as a foundational building block in its strategy to partner with enterprises and service providers in the transition of enterprise workloads to the public cloud.

Equinix has launched its network functions virtualization infrastructure (NFVi) platform in Silicon Valley, California, as well as Washington DC, Amsterdam and London, with plans to bring Singapore and Sydney, Australia, online soon. The initial use cases are virtual router and firewall virtual network functions (VNFs) from Cisco and Juniper, with SD-WAN VNFs in the pipeline from those vendors. Equinix is also working with security vendors Palo Alto Networks, Fortinet and others, Equinix says.

Equinix sees NFV as an extension of its core mission of providing network-to-network connectivity for enterprises, telcos and other communications network service providers, and cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, Jim Poole, Equinix VP of business development, tells Light Reading.

“The value of Equinix lies in positional value,” Poole says. “We sit between networks and the cloud. We create a physical PoP that is a neutral control point between a corporate network and the cloud network.”

The NFVi platform launched in private beta in October, and public beta in December. A limited release will come later this year, with a plan to go into general availability in September, Poole says. Initially, the program will be available to enterprise customers, with general availability to both enterprises and operators in the third quarter.

“The goal is not to replace operators. If you're a big enough enterprise customer — the global 200 — you come directly to us, but we would be just as happy if customers come to us through an operator,” Poole says. Equinix's core enterprise customers are organizations large enough to essentially run their own carrier networks for internal use, and those are the initial users for Network Edge. Later, Equinix hopes to provide point-and-click capabilities that will enable its carrier customers to offer the VNFs as white label services to their own enterprise customers.

Beyond virtualized router, firewall and SD-WAN, Equinix exploring operator-specific VNFs, such as virtual EPC, IMS and MNO core functions. “Ninety percent of all mobile traffic today terminates in a cloud,” Poole says. Equinix sees its position between cloud and operator data centers as ideal for running those kinds of VNFs.

Initially, Equinix is running the VNFs on OpenStack. Poole declined to name the vendor. “We may not stick with them,” he says. Equinix is also considering supporting containerized VNFs with Kubernetes, and bare metal.

In addition to working with enterprises and carriers, Equinix also serves vendors who are transitioning from hardware to recurring services business model. For example, it's providing space, power and interconnect services for Ericsson's Edge Gravity and Nokia Wing Internet of Things orchestration platforms, Poole says. Ericsson and Nokia provide hardware and software.

Equinix sees its interconnection capabilities as a platform enabling it to offer new kinds of services to enterprises, cloud providers, telcos and other communication network providers. For example, Sentara Healthcare provides a customer portal accessible via Amazon Echo smart speakers that connect to both Azure and AWS, with Equinix at the center. Equinix also provides Sentara with access to Microsoft 365, SAP and Salesforce.

– Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading

Ericsson must not waste potential of Edge Gravity with narrow telco focus

Ericsson must not waste potential of Edge Gravity with narrow telco focus

This article appeared on ReTHINK Wireless Watch on Nov 20, 2018

The place that edge compute will play in the telco’s network, and its business model, is a topic we have been tracking with interest this year. While there is a strong logic to convergence of compute, storage and connectivity – all in locations close to the user to improve service response times – it is not clear that operators will always take the leading role in deploying and monetizing edge networks.Many industrial and IoT applications will rely on edge locations that go far beyond the sites and central offices in a telecoms grid, and as some of those sectors look for edge cloud resources on a global scale, the real power may lie with organizations that can aggregate physical assets from many owners – not just operators – and create a scalable, flexible, virtualized platform.

A large operator could perform this role, as could a webscale provider like Amazon, or an industry-specific player, such as GE in the heavy manufacturing segment. Another type of company which could take on this powerful coordination and orchestration role is the equipment vendor. Nokia is combining its network and cloud products with its orchestration and virtualization software to form the basis of various edge-oriented cloud services for industries, with or without the involvement of operators (see lead item).

And Ericsson is responding with Edge Gravity, its own take on a strategy which seeks to exploit its expertise at the intersection of networks and the cloud, while keeping the plum role in the value chain for itself, not its telco customers.

Edge Gravity is an extension of the Swedish company’s Unified Delivery Network (UDN) initiative, which has its own roots in the firm’s acquisition of Microsoft MediaRoom in 2013, as the foundation of a push into the media business. Ericsson has pulled back from that sector considerably, offloading a controlling stake in the division to an equity firm in January.

However, it is clearly looking for ways to harness some of the technology assets more widely, and there is a logical progression from the original UDN, launched as an integrated content delivery network (CDN) in early 2016, and Edge Gravity. For many telcos, after all, the most immediate application of edge compute is to support CDNs that are closer to the users and can deliver lower latency, higher quality mobile video.

Edge Gravity is presented as a far broader platform though, with the potential to support many latency-sensitive or personalized applications that benefit from being closer to the device. The idea is to use UDN-type underpinnings to create a virtualized, global network of edge cloud assets, linked to data centers, and each other, via the wired or wireless networks of more than 80 operator partners. These include MNOs, wireline telcos and cablecos, said Ericsson, and in future might also add private and industrial network providers.

The initial foundations of Edge Gravity are built around a core of 22 central locations,  based in Equinix data centers and on Ericsson’s own servers and MPLS backbone. The software stack is mainly open source, using OpenStack and Kubernetes. These are connected to the edge networks supplied by over 80 partners. These will offer rack space, power, connectivity and other capabilities depending on location and requirement. The combined network has about 4Tbps of capacity so far.

Among the service providers on that list of 80+ are Vodafone group, China Unicom, Telstra in Australia, Canada’s Rogers, Telefonica group, NTT Docomo of Japan and Bharti Airtel of India.

“Rather than selling to the service providers, we are making them suppliers to us,” Yves Boudreau, CMO for the Edge Gravity unit told LightReading. “They can’t act globally as a webscale company can. This is our attempt to help our customers and the service providers come to the table collectively.”

Edge Gravity is part of Ericsson’s Technology & Emerging Business unit, which focuses on new activities housed in ‘accelerated units’ – designed to have the autonomy to behave more like start-ups. It is the first unit to use this model, and so mimic the norms of the cloud and web worlds rather than telecoms. Boudreau said it was harnessing the agility enabled by virtualization and resource flexibility, to drive global scalability.

The firm expects a wide range of companies, in sectors from content delivery to smart cities to automotive, to want to use the edge cloud platform. It might support their internal decision making (for instance, predictive maintenance in near -real time for a transport operator) or allow them to deliver new or improved services to their own customers (e.g. better video and low latency gaming) without having to build their own edge clouds.

Initial customers include Limelight Networks, which will use the network to expand the reach of its content service; Net Insight, and two start-ups, Haste and Mode. The former has built a low latency service for gaming, and the latter has developed algorithms to accelerate the decision-making process for routing low latency requests, in applications such as collaboration.

This is a similar model to that pursued by the webscale providers, and the ideas of elastic scalability, and global aggregations of cloud resources, are familiar from AWS and Azure. But the cloud giants are not necessarily the best placed to extend the model they dominate to the edge. Their power has rested on investing in vast data centers, but in many areas, their ability to access edge sites is inferior to that of telcos or other enterprise types. That is not to say AWS and others will not seek to keep pole position by turning themselves into the orchestrators of many others’ edge cloud and connectivity assets, but they are not the only game in town.

Nokia has worked extensively with AWS in the edge area, particularly on integrating its MEC capabilities with the Amazon unit’s Greengrass developer and cloud services ecosystem. That has raised the prospect of an alliance between these two companies to pool their respective strengths and offer a powerful combination in the edge cloud, almost certainly confining operators to a supporting role.

Ericsson could leverage Edge Gravity for a similar strategic relationship, or try to dominate the whole value chain itself.  It will experiment with various value chain positions, first within the starting segment of content delivery, and then moving into other, more industrial applications. In its first model, it will charge fees to the content provider for the edge CDN resources that should improve the quality of delivery, and therefore customer satisfaction. It will then share part of those fees with the connectivity provider.

Ericsson, at its recent Capital Markets Day, was keen to emphasize that efforts like Edge Gravity do not signify a return to the diversification strategy of its previous CEO, Hans Vestberg, now at Verizon. Current CEO Börje Ekholm reversed that approach, triggering the sale of the media business and a pull-back from enterprise expansion, especially activities which might involve selling directly to vertical sectors, rather than via operators.

So Edge Gravity, despite its potential to be the starting point for an AWS-style business that looks well beyond telcos, is clearly positioned in the traditional, telco-driven market of content delivery, and was positioned by Ericsson as part of a cautious move into “close adjacent markets”.

It is clinging to the change of heart it announced with Ekholm’s plan – to stop targeting enterprise customers directly, by contrast with Nokia and Huawei (though Nokia has also, in public statements if not behaviour, pulled back from appearing to challenge its own core customers). In 2017, Ericsson said: “We will build our IoT business with service providers, addressing industries based on use cases. We will continue to address clients outside of the telecom industry through our service provider customers.”

However, the risk is that, if it sticks too rigidly to that mantra, it will be confined within the same limitations as its main clients. In the edge, a platform like Edge Gravity has the potential to support broad new revenues based on a whole new position in the value chain. But just as telcos’ approach and assets leave them stuck with video delivery as their main edge compute service, rather than higher growth applications in industrial spaces, so Ericsson could clip its own wings in the same way with tactics that are too narrowly focused on telcos.

That is why, for now, Ericsson’s hopes of financial turnaround remain heavily – probably too heavily – reliant on 5G contracts. So far, it remains confident of its strategy, as do the markets – Ericsson’s shares have gained 50% in value this year. Ahead of the Capital Markets Day in New York, the firm raised its sales target for 2020, citing a 5G-driven increase in telco capex from 2019, gains in market share, as well as new revenues from the “adjacent” sectors. It maintained its target of a 10% operating margin across the entire business but raised its sales goal to SEK210-220bn ($23.4bn to $24.5bn), up from SEK190-200bn ($21.2 to $22.3bn).

Ericsson now expects its overall addressable market to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of between 1% and 3% between 2018 and 2022.

The company said about SEK5bn ($560m) of its projected sales increase in 2020 would come from anticipated favorable currency movements; and another SEK2bn ($220m) from Red Bee Media, a broadcasting and media services company. The rest would come from higher than expected network sales. Ericsson is now guiding for revenues of SEK141-145bn ($15.7 to $16.2bn), up from an earlier forecast of SEK128-134bn ($14.3 to $4.9bn). The midpoint of that range would represent an increase of nearly 12% on 2017’s network sales.

Ericsson also said it would target sales of SEK41-43bn ($4.6 to $4.8bn) from digital services and SEK23-25bn ($2.6 to $2.8bn) from managed services for the 2020 fiscal year. In fiscal 2017, those units delivered SEK41bn ($4.6bn) and SEK24.5bn ($2.7bn) respectively.

Caroline Gabriel, ReTHINK Research

Cox Tests Premium Low-Lag Gaming Service

Cox Tests Premium Low-Lag Gaming Service

This post appeared on LightReading on April 26, 2019.

In a move that will likely raise the hackles of network neutrality advocates, Cox Communications has begun to trial a low-latency gaming tier in Arizona for broadband customers who get speeds of at least 100 Mbit/s (downstream).

The trial offering, called Cox Elite Gamer, sells for $14.99 per month for two licenses (allowing two users in the home to use the low-latency capability). Additional licenses — up to five per account — run an extra $4.99 per month. Cox confirmed that Cox Elite Gamer is a white-labeled version of WTFast, a service based out of Canada that currently retails for $14.99 per month, or $149.90 for an annual subscription (roughly $12.49 per month).

Cox said it intends to run the trial for three months, and will later evaluate the results to determine next steps.

According to Cox, the new low-latency service provides “enhanced routing to gaming-related Internet endpoints,” and is an optional add-on to Internet service but is not in itself an Internet service. The service, it adds, selects an “optimized” Internet path for each gaming session initiative by customers to reduce jitter and ping spikes and, more generally, to create a more stable connection to gaming servers.

Per some fine print posted online, Cox Elite Gamer is for PCs only. The company also mentions that, compared to standard Cox Internet service, users on the new gaming-optimized offering will experience up to 34% less lag, 55% fewer ping spikes and 45% less jitter.

Despite the fact that WTFast already offers the product in the direct-to-consumer retail segment, Cox's white-label version of the product will likely get some attention from network neutrality advocates as the “Save the Internet Act” aims to reverse the FCC's rollback of past rules.

However, Cox stressed that Cox Elite Gamer steers clear of network neutrality concerns in part because it does not prioritize gaming traffic ahead of other traffic on the MSO's network and does not boost the speed of any Internet traffic travelling its networks.

“This offering would be permissible regardless of regulatory environment as it does not alter speed in any way nor does it prioritize any traffic over others on our network,” a Cox spokesman said in a statement. “Cox Elite Gamer solves a problem with deficiencies in the public Internet, NOT our network. No customer's experience is degraded as a result of any customers purchasing Cox Elite Gamer service as an add-on to their Internet service.”

Low-latency gaming an emerging ISP opportunity
Cox's trial is likely the front edge of a larger trend, as cable operators and other ISPs are expected to explore premium low-latency services tailored for gamers that can aid with retention and create an important new revenue stream that extends beyond moving consumers to higher speed tiers.

A startup called Haste is also pursuing this opportunity. Alongside its retail offering, Haste has also been discussing how its low-latency gaming service, which recognizes gaming traffic and sends it along the four fastest and most stable paths available to the gamer servers, can be bundled with broadband services.

Last fall, Haste CEO Lynn Perry said those talks were at the “early stage,” and followed Haste's participation at last year's CableLabs Summer Conference in Keystone, Colo. “What we've heard is that they [the service providers] want to have an answer to that [latency issue], and that they're a possible solution to latency, which has become more and more important” as online gaming continues to increase in popularity.”

Perry also stressed that Haste sidesteps network neutrality concerns. “We are using the Internet as the Internet is, without any prioritization,” she said then. “We're just taking over the game packet and volleying it along the points-of-presence that we have.”

Haste is also a partner of Edge Gravity, a unit of Ericsson that is combining a core network of data centers with the last-mile networks of partners that include cable operators, telcos and mobile service providers. The roster of providers includes Rogers Communications, Telstra Corp., Bharti Airtel, Telefónica , NTT DoCoMo, China Unicom and Chunghwa Telecom Co. Ltd.

Edge Gravity is emphasizing the low-latency gaming business opportunity for partners. In an online study conducted last fall with 1,500 adult gamers (including 1,000 in the US), Ericsson found that the group is receptive to paying for a premium, low-latency service – 21% said they are “very likely” to purchase the concept, and 35% said they would be “somewhat likely.” Just 8% fell into the “very unlikely” camp.

Of that group, online lag was the most commonly cited frustration with online gaming, followed by game freezing and “dying” and having to start over. However, another issue was the money they are spending on online gaming, which seems to partly counteract the desire to pay more for an optimized, low-latency gaming service.

And there's a big variance over what consumers might be willing to pay. A study from Van Westendorp found that the acceptable price range is between $10 to $24.75 per month among US consumers, with $18.50 per month viewed as the “optimal” price.

And offering a low-latency option could help out ISPs in the customer service arena, as 53% of gamers tend to call the ISP to resolve lag-related issues, and just 24% reach out to the game maker.

Of note, CableLabs is working on new low-latency features for DOCSIS, but has not revealed any new specifications tied to that work.

And Cox isn't the only broadband service provider looking into premium services tailored for gamers. Verizon is reportedly testing a performance-focused gaming service that is already running on Android TV-powered Nvidia Shield consoles and will eventually make its way onto Android smartphones. The Verge speculated that Verizon's offering is using software from Utomik.

Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

Ericsson Takes Startup Approach With 'EDGE GRAVITY'

Ericsson Takes Startup Approach With ‘EDGE GRAVITY’

This article originally appeared on Light Reading (November 14, 2018).

Without much fanfare, Ericsson has launched a new unit at the company, called EDGE GRAVITY, that operates a global edge cloud network that links together a core network of data centers with the last-mile networks of more than 80 partners that include cable operators, telcos and mobile service providers.

EDGE GRAVITY, unveiled in part via this Twitter post on November 9, is essentially the name of a new company within Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) that is tied to company's relatively new Unified Delivery Network (UDN) initiative. By putting compute at the edge — and inside the network of the ISPs themselves — EDGE GRAVITY has initially focused on expanding the reach of certain content delivery networks (CDNs) and supporting an array of latency-sensitive services and apps (more on that later). (See Ericsson Wants to Add Compute to CDNs and Ericsson Poised to Disrupt CDN Market.)

EDGE GRAVITY is part of Ericsson's Technology & Emerging Business unit, which focuses on new parts of the business — referred to as “accelerated units” — that Ericsson is trying to scale up in part by giving them a large degree of autonomy and startup-like agility. EDGE GRAVITY, for example, has its own sales and marketing teams and IT system/infrastructure.

EDGE GRAVITY is the first unit there that is using this new model, according to Yves Boudreau, Ericsson EDGE GRAVITY's chief marketing officer.

EDGE GRAVITY, which has been working on the project for more than a year, started by building a core network, on its own dime and using its servers, in Equinix Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX) data centers and on its own MPLS backbone.

That core network, with 22 locations at present, has been connected to an edge network comprised of more than 80 last-mile network providers that EDGE GRAVITY has managed to sign on so far. Under that model, the service providers provide EDGE GRAVITY with elements such as rack space, power and connectivity.

That's a turn of the table of sorts. “Rather than selling to the service providers, we are making them suppliers to us,” said Boudreau, who also leads the partnership and ecosystem strategy at the unit. EDGE GRAVITY then works on a revenue share based on the traffic it brings to the network.

A representative list of those service provider partners include Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI), Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS), Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL), Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) (OTC: SGTJY), Telefónica , NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM), China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE: CHU), Chunghwa Telecom Co. Ltd. (NYSE: CHT), Telkom Indonesia and Mobiphone. Boudreau, who presented on EDGE GRAVITY in mid-October at the EdgeNext Summit in New York, noted then that the service provider part of the edge cloud network is about half deployed.

EDGE GRAVITY then interweaves its network with a software stack that is open source “for the most part” using OpenStack and Kubernetes, Boudreau said.

Creating a global edge
Boudreau said EDGE GRAVITY idea came about as service providers struggled to exit their own countries and extend the reach of services while watching the likes of Amazon Web Services Inc. , Microsoft Azure and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) dent their revenues.

“They can't act globally as a web-scale company can,” he said. “This is our attempt to help our customers and the service providers come to the table collectively.”

Boudreau stressed that EDGE GRAVITY is not out to replace public cloud companies but rather to complement them and take advantage of a web-scale deployment model that allows customers to write software that will operate on EDGE GRAVITY's entire edge cloud network.

Boudreau estimates that EDGE GRAVITY's combined network has about 4 Tbit/s of capacity and that the number will rise rapidly as more partners are brought on board. That approach, he said, will enable the network to scale as data demands increase in a way that individual networks can't on their own.

“The only way we can keep up with that pace of traffic is really by doing it in partnership with operators,” he said.

Early use cases
Though deployment is still ongoing, EDGE GRAVITY has already signed on several partners such as Limelight Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: LLNW) and Net Insight AB (Stockholm: NETI-B), and startups such as Haste and Mode. (See Limelight Connects to Ericsson's Edge Cloud .)

Limelight is tapping into the network to expand its reach and tack on more capacity without handing to standup more infrastructure. The CDN angle was the “first and easiest” application for the new edge network, Boudreau said.

Mode, a startup in San Francisco, has developed software that accelerates the decision-making process for routing for services — such as collaboration software — that have stringent latency demands. The idea here is that Mode can boost the performance of its software by touching packets coming out of the operator network itself.

Haste, meanwhile, has built a low-latency service for gamers (with an eye toward other real-time apps) that it's also pitching to ISPs as a potential driver of new revenues.

Haste is now running in EDGE GRAVITY's nodes. While Haste also requires users to run the company's client on their gaming machine, the company is exploring ways to embed Haste into the network itself, company co-founder Adam Toll said at the same EdgeNext Summit event. (See Haste Sounds Out ISPs on Low-Latency Service for Gamers .)

In addition to getting current partners rolling, another priority for EDGE GRAVITY is to prepare to onboard another batch of apps and services that are optimized for this type of edge network.

Regarding cases of pushback, Boudreau notes that some companies argue that they are already doing this on their own, but on their own network. “But nobody wants to be on just one network. They want to be on all the networks that they can,” he counters.

Others, particularly smaller service providers, claim that they don't have the resources to pull this off. But that fits into a primary purpose of EDGE GRAVITY, he said, in that the company is in position to handle the heavy lifting that those providers can't handle on their own.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading



New Report Details Future Disruptions of Edge Computing

New Report Details Future Disruptions of Edge Computing

This article originally published on SDX Central (June 28, 2018)

A group of vendors and analysts released a new report tackling the impact edge computing is having on developers, telecom operators, internet service providers (ISPs), and end-users. It’s also an effort to simplify the semantics surrounding the ecosystem.

The report — State of the Edge 2018 — is sponsored by Packet, Vapor IO, Rafay Systems, Ericsson UDN, and ARM. It’s written by Edge Research Group Analyst Jim Davis and Structure Research Analyst Philbert Shih. Th focus is on architectures for edge deployments and what the technology looks like today, and gives guidance on the future of edge computing.

The report notes four principles that define the edge: it’s a location; it’s the edge of the last mile network; there is an infrastructure edge and a device edge; and compute will exist on both sides in coordination with the centralized cloud. As the edge ecosystem evolves and enterprises begin to take advantage of that evolution, it will impact the way software is used; how computing resources are purchased; and will shift expectations of service levels, physical security, hardware lifecycles, and refresh cycles.

“The CNCF community sees edge computing as a natural extension of cloud native practices, both on the infrastructure side as well as on the device side, “ wrote Chris Aniszczyk, CTO and COO of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), in the report. “Edge computing will drive a shift in how all applications are designed and managed.”

The report provides five broad implications and predictions for the future of edge computing. These include that edge will not be the end of the cloud and instead it will create a more open and collaborative model between the edge and the centralized cloud; the edge, specifically edge data centers, will bring a greater need for automation; edge computing will require a different supply and service chain; applications will need to become more network aware as locality evolves; and cloud resource purchasing will change with the adoption of a multi-tier marketplace.

These results will lead to the emergence of a new distributed computing architecture due to the adoption of specialized hardware paired with speciality software that is quickly replaced. The resulting supply chain will need to effortlessly deploy and manage a diverse portfolio of resources at a number of locations. This complex logistical and physical dilemma will need to be addressed with new hardware and software.

One of the compelling features of infrastructure edge computing is that, similar to centralized cloud, it can provide compute, storage, and network resources to application workloads. This will require greater access and control to every network layer, requiring applications to become more network aware, and will require service providers to evolve to meet this need.

“In a centralized model, a user might want to answer the question: did my packet arrive?,” the report states. “At the edge, the question is likely to evolve. How did it arrive? Which networks is the compute I’m using attached to? What is the past performance of those networks? … What is the latency to various points on various networks?”

The report also has an Open Glossary of Edge Computing that is stewarded by The Linux Foundation. It’s meant to encourage collaborative definitions in this new realm. There is also a market map of the Edge Computing Landscape to encourage the edge compute ecosystem to be inclusive.

Limelight Networks Deploys CDN on Ericsson UDN Edge Cloud Platform

Limelight Networks Deploys CDN on Ericsson UDN Edge Cloud Platform

This article originally published on The Fast Mode (October 23, 2018)

Limelight Networks and Ericsson have signed an agreement to collaborate on content delivery and edge cloud services.

As more traffic shifts to the public internet from private networks, the need for high performance networks and distributed infrastructure is required to maintain a high-quality user experience. A key solution to this is edge cloud computing. Providing computing capabilities close to the user or device gives a superior quality of service. For new low latency applications such as IoT, gaming, and virtual reality, robust computing capabilities at the edge of the network are needed. Communications service providers and technology companies will play a pivotal role in scaling the next wave of internet traffic.

Ericsson is partnering with service providers globally to build the Ericsson Unified Delivery Network (UDN) Edge Cloud Platform – a web-scale edge delivery network, driving performance benefits and cost efficiencies. Content delivery is the first application built on the UDN platform. Under the agreement, Limelight’s content delivery technology will be deployed on the Ericsson UDN Edge Cloud Platform to expand its global delivery capabilities and increase delivery capacities.

By providing computing capabilities close to the user or device, edge computing addresses rapidly increasing data demands and subscriber experience expectations through distributed infrastructure, while maintaining high quality and high performance. Low latency applications, such as IoT, gaming, and web acceleration are set to benefit.

Bob Lento, CEO, Limelight Networks
We are always looking for ways to improve the performance and reach of our network. The strength of Ericsson’s partnerships with communications service providers through the UDN Network is a key component of this agreement that enable us to offer even better reach and performance for our customers. We are delighted to work with Ericsson on this initiative.

Gary Traver, Network Engineering Executive, Telstra
This agreement between Limelight and UDN is another example of how Telstra is working with technology leaders to drive a better user experience for its customers, and is another proof point of the value services providers can bring by aggregating their assets to provide an improved QoE to content providers, aggregators and technology companies.

Ericsson Teams With SD-WAN Startup Mode to Build an SD-Core Network

Ericsson Teams With SD-WAN Startup Mode to Build an SD-Core Network

This article originally published on SDX Central (June 29, 2018)

The company was founded by two Cornell computer scientists, Nithin Michael and Kevin Tang, who developed the Mode Halo routing technology. Mode Halo is used to create an SD-Core to give enterprises private network reliability and quality of service that they can then combine with SD-WAN and last-mile internet.

The company recently raised $16 million in Series B funding led by GV with a grant from the National Science Foundation. That funding comes on top of an $8 million Series A round led by NEA in 2017. Mode said that the National Science Foundation evaluated Mode Halo in its testbed and found a 300-percent increase in throughput at the lowest possible delay between hosts in New York and Sunnyvale, Calif.

Ericsson is using Mode’s SD-WAN product as an overlay for its edge compute network, which it calls its Unified Deliver Network (UDN). By combining Mode’s routing algorithms with UDN Ericsson can create a private core network and offer it as a cloud service. Ericsson says this gives customers better performance than a traditional private network.

Ericsson’s UDN is live in 30 countries and the Mode SD-Core is available for beta testing with customers.

Ericsson said that this partnership with Mode will help foster the next wave of edge technologies. According to a 2018 report by Orbis Research, the global cloud private network market is expected to reach $35.73 billion by the end of 2022, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.77 percent between 2016 and 2022.


Real Edge Computing