Table of Contents
- Market Categories
- Key Criteria Comparison
- GigaOm Radar
- Vendor Insights
- Analyst’s Take
- About Ivan McPhee
According to industry surveys, the number of edge apps will increase tenfold in the next three years as most new enterprise IT infrastructure is deployed at the edge rather than in data centers. As 5G connectivity and edge adoption ramp up, modernizing networks to take advantage of emerging technologies for near real-time processing with ultra-low latency and high bandwidth becomes increasingly critical.
The convergence of 5G, edge computing, and hybrid/multicloud deployments redefines how businesses operate. Mobile edge platforms enable multiaccess edge computing (MEC), provisioning compute and storage resources as close as possible to the end-user—either at the boundary or within the operator network. Fueled by emerging use cases for AR/VR, IoT, machine learning, robotics, and telco network functions are driving operators to explore how to open their radio access network (RAN) to mobile edge platforms and authorized third parties, allowing them to deploy innovative applications and services rapidly for use by individual and enterprise consumers.
Mobile edge platforms deliver faster response times, increased insights, an enhanced user experience, and other tangible benefits. These benefits include:
- Improving operational efficiency, cost optimization, and risk mitigation by reducing the volume of data transferred to centralized processing hubs.
- Providing ultra-low latency and accelerating time-to-insights by tapping into and processing data at the edge of the 5G or LTE network.
- Increasing availability with autonomous edge systems enabling continuous operations even when disconnected, reducing disruption and lowering costs.
- Addressing many of the challenges associated with distributed computing, including bandwidth, data sovereignty, latency, and resiliency.
Many mobile edge platform vendors provide compute and/or storage services embedded within mobile operators’ data centers at the edge of the telco network to enable low-latency data transfer between application servers and mobile devices. Others provide specific technologies for reducing latency or orchestrating edge deployments.
This report provides an overview of the vendor landscape based on the following table stakes, which are mature, stable solution features common across vendors:
- Telco hosted: Mobile edge platforms are hosted by and/or managed by communication service providers (CSPs), network service providers (NSPs), or mobile network operators (MNOs). Unused or underutilized compute and storage resources hosted in edge facilities are used to host edge platforms, opening up new monetization opportunities, often in a revenue-sharing model between the mobile edge platform vendor and the mobile operator.
- On-demand resources: Virtualized compute, storage, or network resources are delivered on demand to meet end-user/subscriber demand via the mobile network. On-demand elasticity is the ability to spin up and down test, development, and sandbox infrastructure environments on demand without jeopardizing compliance, governance, performance, security, or stability. Unlike scalability, where resources are added to accommodate larger loads, elasticity allows virtual resources to be dynamically adjusted up or down based on changing application demands.
- Control system: The control system provisions, manages, and orchestrates account and resource allocation for mobile services delivered across the underlying infrastructure. While many mobile edge platform vendors integrate deployment and management capabilities within their solution, some pure-play vendors only provide open, standalone orchestration solutions supporting edge apps and services hosted in VMs, containers, or clusters.
- Mobility support: The mobile edge platform enables integration with 5G and 4G/LTE mobile operator control systems to access device, user, and location information on an as-needed basis. While the edge app or service generally uses the data provided, the platform should provide API-based access for easy consumption.
- Real-time applications: Mobile edge platforms provide a runtime execution environment (RTE) for virtual network functions (VNF) and non-telco workloads. They enable edge apps to tap into locally cached content and real-time information about local network conditions, leveraging edge analytics to optimize performance and reduce latency and jitter for an enhanced consumer experience.
- Global connectivity: Mobile edge platforms connect on-demand resources to the Internet, edge cloud, and mobile devices via roaming across mobile networks. However, it should be noted that global connectivity is not the same as international coverage. While global connectivity provides worldwide access to edge resources via mobile networks and public cloud, low-latency edge access is limited based on the operator’s regional or national coverage.
The list of vendors included in this report is by no means exhaustive. As a new sector enabling ultra-low latency and high-bandwidth edge access and opening up new opportunities for mobile operators to monetize existing infrastructure, we expect to see significant changes over the next 18 to 36 months. New players will emerge with lean, innovative solutions, while established vendors will compete by developing critical partnerships to expand coverage. With many different mobile edge vendors and options available—and the landscape evolving—choosing the best mobile edge solution for your organization depends on your geographical location, existing software stack, architectural choices, and in-house capabilities.
We recommend using this report to explore the different mobile edge solutions available on the market, identifying solutions and vendors matching your business requirements, use cases, and capabilities. Then, contact the relevant vendors for additional information on features, coverage, and cost.
For additional information about choosing a mobile edge solution, please read the GigaOm report “Key Criteria for Evaluating Mobile Edge Solutions: An Evaluation Guide for Technology Decision Makers.”
How to Read this Report
This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding, consider reviewing the following reports:
Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.
GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.
Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.