Ericsson has a global edge network built from service provider partnerships

Ericsson has a global edge network built from service provider partnerships

This article appeared on August 8 on FierceWireless written by Linda Hardesty, Editor-in-Chief, Telecom Group

Many people don’t realize that Ericsson has a global network — Edge Gravity — which is based on about 90 points of presence (PoPs) around the world, connected with private fiber links. Ericsson has created Edge Gravity via partnerships with its service provider customers. And, its lofty goal is to help service providers compete for enterprise customer revenue against such cloud giants as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

Edge Gravity has actually been around for about three years. When it was first created in 2016, it was called Ericsson’s Unified Delivery Network (UDN). But the company recently changed the name to Edge Gravity.

Ericsson has been a bit mum about this network until recently. In June, Ericsson hired former Verizon executive Kyle Okamoto as CEO of Edge Gravity. And he’s ready for the world to know about its existence and its purpose.

Edge Gravity is its own autonomous business with about 300 employees based in Santa Clara, California. It has one key stakeholder, which is Ericsson. But it has its own board of directors, and it runs its own finances and legal department. Okamoto said Ericsson created Edge Gravity as an “acceleration unit” and “there’s a clear mandate to grow this business.”

Edge Gravity is “facilitating an ecosystem” to help service providers deepen their relationships with enterprises and to monetize their networks for more than just connectivity, said Okamoto. “We’re really connecting enterprise application owners and consumer application owners to service providers to help them to participate in the revenue streams instead of just last mile connections.”

Ultimately, service providers would like to compete for more of the big bucks that public cloud providers such as AWS and Google Cloud are raking in. And Edge Gravity aims to help them.

Not another ‘dumb pipe’ era

Okamoto remembers the days when over-the-top video providers began offering their services on cable networks. The cable guys recognized the threat, and they didn’t want their networks to be just “dumb pipes.” Nevertheless, the OTT players have taken quite a bit of market share from cable video providers.

“These content providers would simply provide OTT on top of these networks that service providers had invested billions in to build with fiber and wireless,” said Okamoto. “Telcos and service providers were simply carrying that traffic the rest of the way, but not really monetizing it, not really creating new revenue streams for themselves. But now, for applications that need high performance, we’re getting in front of it.”

The Edge Gravity network

Currently, Edge Gravity counts more than 90 PoPs, with about 85% of those PoPs being in service provider networks and the rest being in carrier-neutral data centers. But Edge Gravity is working toward having 100% of its PoPs in service provider networks, and it wants to have hundreds of PoPs in total.

“It’s a hierarchal edge compute platform,” said Okamoto. “Some workflows need to happen at the far edge and some in a more centralized fashion.” The PoPs are connected by private fiber links, many of these links also provided by the service provider partners.

Okamoto thinks this platform has a leg-up on the big public cloud platforms in terms of edge compute because those cloud giants offer their services in a more centralized fashion, with two or three PoPs in a major geography. Edge Gravity is planning many more PoPs further at the edge.

Many of Edge Gravity’s service provider partners are headquartered in the Asia-Pacific region, including Telstra, SK Telecom, Singtel, KDDI, and NTT Docomo. Okamoto says much of the heavy-lifting has already been done by working with these Asia-Pac service providers because their network topologies include a lot of sub-sea cables and difficult geographies. It’s a lot easier to establish PoPs and fiber links on big land masses such as North America and Europe.


Edge Gravity has already been working with some of these service providers to provide content delivery network (CDN) services.

Frost & Sullivan analyst Dan Rayburn said in regard to offering CDN services, Edge Gravity has gone after Asia as its first target market. “In the United States there are only a handful of carriers with more than 5 million subscribers, and the delivery of video is fairly prescribed,” said Rayburn. “But in Asia, it’s more fragmented. In Asia, Edge Gravity has built out what is essentially a CDN using ISP’s and operators’ last mile and footprint.”

In addition to CDN services, Edge Gravity is also being used as an underlay network for SD-WAN vendors to provide their services. The San Francisco-based networking startup Mode has partnered with Edge Gravity to deliver what Mode calls its software-defined core (SD-Core). It’s basically a virtual overlay network on top of Edge Gravity's physical network, which Mode provides as a private network-as-a-service. And a couple of SD-WAN vendors — Versa and Fat Pipe — are using Mode’s SD-Core technology to deliver SD-WAN services.

Craig Matsumoto, an analyst with 451 Research said of Edge Gravity, “They want to get in on edge computing. There are different startups that are trying to put in place the infrastructure that would be the edge. Most are borrowing from the carrier networks and CDNs.” One example would be Deutsche Telekom’s MobilEdgeX.

Edge Gravity is holding a Global Edge Forum conference in October in Silicon Valley to bring together service providers and enterprises to discuss edge trends.

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




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