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.
CDN and SD-WAN
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.