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,