At the IMC 2021, there was a session on edge data centers — gaining an edge on business agility. Ryan Perera, VP of Asia Content & Subsea Networks, India & Subcontinent, Ciena, said there is lot of interest in edge clouds. AT&T, Verizon, NTT, T-Mobile, etc., are all announcing deployments with public cloud partners. Eg., AT&T is targeting retail outlets, stadiums, etc. We see three trends: advent of 5G and more spectrum bands being available. Drive toward C-RAN architecture is also there. There will be significant impact on telcos revenues. Next trend is residential networks. Hybrid work environment is here to stay. Last, AI/ML traffic is seeing growth.
Public cloud providers are delivering flexible container models. Network-as-a-service or (NaaS) is emerging as a promising business model. Telcos need to make NaaS easy for all. The network can be divided into four parts. First, on-ramps. It is prime for NaaS business models. Telcos can deliver flexible network slices for enterprises. Next comes edge data center integration (ECI). Third is the metro data center interconnect. And, fourth is the long-haul DCI.
Alekh Tiwari, Partner, KPMG, noted that we can have about 15 million sq. ft. of data centers over the next five years. It will be around hyperscalers and edge.
Benjamin Panic, Senior Director, Telco Sales Vertical APAC, RedHat, said the opportunity is large and diverse. Enterprises can tap into new use cases that are popping up globally. Open source is going to drive the innovation. With emergence of CDNs, more content is getting created on the edge. Panic added that O-RAN is being talked about by Telefonica. Operators can get to market faster. O-RAN will drive the edge and new different use cases are getting developed. We deploy hardware once, and deploy software several times for new apps. Many will be developed by new ecosystem players.
Edge footprint resides with telcos, and provides opportunities to monetize the network. You can marry the analytics with networks. Creativity and innovation will be needed. Innovative use cases hold the key. New gaming apps will also come to the fore. Red Hat believes in hybrid cloud. Being flexible with workloads is also key. Right now, there are really no killer apps. We need to have good partnerships to drive value for the customers. It is exciting time to forge ahead with 5G and edge.
What is driving the edge data center opportunity? Saurabh Tiwari, Director and CTO (Telecom), Dell Technologies, noted that edge data centers are key to realizing all the new technologies such as AI/ML, IoT, IIoT, AR/VR, Industry 4.0, etc. We need to take decisions in time.
In industrial IoT, there is a chain of robots in the manufacturing supply line. We need to process the information collected in real-time. Data processing time can be reduced by using more hardware. However, data transit time is important. Edge data centers are vital for realizing these use cases.
Traditional DCs work with assumptions of power, space and cooling. Edge DCs don’t have resources at locations. You don’t have huge amounts of power and too many nodes. You also have limited cooling. Edge DCs need to be small. You need to have same amount of power, but not the infrastructure.
There are several edge servers that can be run at elevated temperatures. In Europe, you can run traditional servers. We are also working with liquid cooling — one, container-based solution, and two, immersion cooling. The latter is an interesting aspect. Oil can take significantly more heat away than air. They are immersed in liquid, and you can reduce cooling and IT power costs.
There was a panel discussion on the role edge plays today. The participants were: Anuj Jain, President, Reliance Jio Fiber, Reliance Jio, Vinod Joseph, Technical Leader, APJC, VMware, Gulshan Khurana, EVP, Transmission & Core Planning, Technology, Vi, Ronen Shpirer, Director 5G Solution Marketing, Fortinet, and Sandeep Dhingra, CTO, Network Software & Services, STL. Alekh Tiwari, Partner, KPMG, was the moderator.
Anuj Jain, Reliance Jio, said there is about 450MW consumption in India, which is 20 times below that of the USA. Edge is going to play a major role. We have created 1,000 edge DCs for people. Digital needs of childs in Mumbai and Nasik will be the same. Edge data center is a new necessity today.
Gulshan Khurana, Vi, said the bandwidth has to be carefully designed between edge and central nodes. Data consumption will be dependant on the market. IIoT will drive needs for industrial apps. It will include quality, etc. From B2C side, we need to see e-governance, e-health, etc. Content delivery from OTTs will also be of importance. They will all drive the future of edge.
Ronen Shpirer, Fortinet, said 5G is a huge driver of edge. There are far edge, near edge, and deep edge. That will define the use case, app, service, etc. Do we use containers or hyperscalers? We need to see the partners we bring in, and also look at security.
Sandeep Dhingra, STL, added 5G is going to be an enabler for latency, and also the massive IoT. Use cases exist in 5G. Edge is asn inherent part. One part is multi-access edge computing. You can have additional enterprise apps. Also, CDN is an edge requirement, as is rural. You may require localization of data for hospitals, etc. We have the developer community as a stakeholder. They can develop edge-native apps. Hyperscalers will also play a role, along with telcos.
Anuj Jain, Reliance Jio, said that 5G probably will be required to accelerate the monetization of network. Jio is an integrated telco. A broadband home has nothing to do with 5G. With 5G, you can get clear segregation. You can put data plane boxes near customers. When we think of holistic approach of edge, we can see all of them in one bucket.
Vinod Joseph, VMware, noted there is transformation happening at the edge. The app should be highly mobile around edge DCs. Apps are being built to leverage certain APIs. Capabilities are being built into the APIs. There is an evolution that needs to happen with the network. Security is a key issue here. Billing for edge apps is another area. When you start moving to edge services, CSPs will also need to look at their networks. Industry 4.0 is going to be massive. Agility also becomes very necessary.
Sandeep Dhingra, STL, said hyperscalers will be there. Telcos need to have right tie-ups in place. Gulshan Khurana, Vi, said the space is opening up a lot. Non-telcos are also coming up with apps. A combination of hyperscaler and cloud is becoming the norm. We will also see more players entering the industry.