Source: Gartner report on Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020
Communicating to the Edge — The Role of 5G
Connecting edge devices with one another and with back-end services is a fundamental aspect of IoT and an enabler of smart spaces. 5G is the next-generation cellular standard after 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE; LTE Advanced [LTE-A] and LTE Advanced Pro [LTE-A Pro]).
Several global standards bodies have defined it — International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) [NOT A STANDARDS BODY] and ETSI [Has submitted their IMT 2020 RIT to ITU-R WP5D jointly with DECT Forum].
Successive iterations of the 5G standard also will incorporate support for NarrowBand Internet of Things (NB-IoT) aimed at devices with low-power and low-throughput requirements. New system architectures include core network slicing as well as edge computing.
5G addresses three key technology communication aspects, each of which supports distinct new services, and possibly new business models (such as latency as a service):
■ Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), which most providers will probably implement first.
■ Ultra-reliable and low-latency communications (URLLC), which addresses many existing industrial, medical, drone and transportation requirements where reliability and latency requirements surpass bandwidth needs.
■ Massive machine-type communications (mMTC), which addresses the scale requirements of IoT edge computing.
Use of higher cellular frequencies and massive capacity will require very dense deployments with higher frequency reuse. As a result, we expect that most public 5G deployments will initially focus on islands of deployment, without continuous national coverage. We expect that, by 2020, 4% of network-based mobile communications service providers globally will launch the 5G network commercially. Many CSPs are uncertain about the nature of the use cases and business models that may drive 5G. We expect that, through 2022, organizations will use 5G mainly to support IoT communications, high-definition video and fixed wireless access. The release of unlicensed radio spectrum (Citizens Broadband Radio Service [CBRS] in the U.S., and similar initiatives in the U.K. and Germany) will facilitate the deployment of private 5G (and LTE) networks.
This will enable enterprises to exploit the advantages of 5G technology without waiting for public networks to build out coverage. Identify use cases that definitely require the high-end performance, low latency or higher densities of 5G for edge computing needs.
Map the organization’s planned exploitation of such use cases against the expected rollout by providers through 2023. Evaluate the available alternatives that may prove adequate and more cost-effective than 5G for particular IoT use cases. Examples include low-power wide-area (LPWA), such as 4G LTE-based NB-IoT or LTE Cat M1, LoRa, Sigfox and Wireless Smart Ubiquitous Networks (Wi-SUN).
Distributed Cloud examines a major evolution in cloud computing where the applications, platforms, tools, security, management and other services are physically shifting from a centralized data center model to one in which the services are distributed and delivered at the point of need. The point of need can extend into customer data centers or all the way to the edge devices.
A distributed cloud refers to the distribution of public cloud services to different locations outside the cloud providers’ data centers, while the originating public cloud provider assumes responsibility for the operation, governance, maintenance and updates. This represents a significant shift from the centralized model of most public cloud services and will lead to a new era in cloud computing.
Concept of Distributed Cloud:
Gartner expects distributed cloud computing will happen in three phases:
■ Phase 1: A like-for-like hybrid mode in which the cloud provider delivers services in a distributed fashion that mirror a subset of services in its centralized cloud for delivery in the enterprise.
■ Phase 2: An extension of the like-for-like model in which the cloud provider teams with third parties to deliver a subset of its centralized cloud services to target communities through the third-party provider. An example is the delivery of services through a telecommunications
provider to support data sovereignty requirements in smaller countries where the provider does not have data centers.
■ Phase 3: Communities of organizations share distributed cloud substations. We use the term“substations” to evoke the image of subsidiary stations (like branch post offices) where people gather to use services.
Cloud customers can gather at a given distributed cloud substation to
consume cloud services for common or varied reasons if it is open for community or public use. This improves the economics associated with paying for the installation and operation of a distributed cloud substation. As other companies use the substation, they can share the cost of
We expect that third parties such as telecommunications service providers will explore the creation of substations in locations where the public cloud provider does not have a presence. If the substation is not open for use by others outside the organization that paid for its installation, then the substation represents a private cloud instance in a hybrid relationship with the public cloud. The distributed cloud supports continuously connected and intermittently connected operation of like-for-like cloud services from the public cloud “distributed” to specific and varied locations. This enables low-latency service execution where the cloud services are closer to the point of need in remote data centers or all the way to the edge device itself.
This can deliver major improvements in performance and reduce the risk of global network-related outages, as well as support occasionally connected scenarios. By 2024, most cloud service platforms will provide at least some services that execute at the point of need.
On Dec. 3rd at AWS re:Invent (Dec. 2-6, 2019) in Las Vegas, Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS), announced AWS Wavelength, which provides developers the ability to build applications that serve end-users with single-digit millisecond latencies over the 5G network. AWS is partnering with Verizon on making AWS Wavelength available across the United States. Currently, AWS Wavelength is being piloted by select customers in Verizon’s 5G Edge, Verizon’s mobile edge compute (MEC) solution, in Chicago. Additionally, AWS is collaborating with other global telecommunications companies (including Vodafone, SK Telecom, and KDDI) to launch AWS Wavelength across Europe, South Korea, and Japan in 2020, with more global partners coming soon. From Amazon’s AWS Wavelength press release:
AWS Wavelength enables developers to build applications that deliver single-digit millisecond latencies to mobile devices and end-users. AWS developers can deploy their applications to Wavelength Zones, AWS infrastructure deployments that embed AWS compute and storage services within the wireless telecommunications providers’ data centers at the edge of the 5G networks, and seamlessly access the breadth of AWS services in the region. This enables developers to deliver applications that require single-digit millisecond latencies such as game and live video streaming, machine learning inference at the edge, and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR).
AWS Wavelength brings AWS services to the edge of the 5G network, minimizing the latency to connect to an application from a mobile device. Application traffic can reach application servers running in Wavelength Zones without leaving the mobile provider’s network. This reduces the extra network hops to the Internet that can result in latencies of more than 100 milliseconds, preventing customers from taking full advantage of the bandwidth and latency advancements of 5G.
More from the press release:
Wavelength embeds AWS compute and storage services at the edge of wireless telecommunications providers’ 5G networks, enabling developers to serve use-cases that require ultra-low latency like machine learning inference at the edge, autonomous industrial equipment, smart cars and cities, Internet of Things (IoT), and Augmented and Virtual Reality. Wavelength brings the power of AWS to the edge of the 5G network, so developers can deploy the portions of an application that require ultra-low latency within the 5G network, and then seamlessly connect back to the rest of their application and full range of cloud services running in AWS. AWS customers can now use the same familiar AWS APIs, tools, and functionality they use today, to deliver-low latency applications at the edge of the 5G network, around the world […]
With infrastructure that consists of 69 Availability Zones, in 22 AWS Regions, AWS enables developers to serve end-users with low latencies worldwide. However, emerging interactive applications like game streaming, virtual reality, and real-time rendering require even lower latencies, of single-digit milliseconds to end-users and devices, connected through mobile networks. In addition, use-cases like industrial automation, smart cities, IoT, and autonomous vehicles require data processing to take place close to the source in order to conserve resources like device power and bandwidth. The 5G network is up to 20 times faster than 4G, and can be used to dramatically increase the number of supported devices and shrink network latency for mobile devices. However, even with the arrival of 5G, mobile devices still have to cross multiple network hops when connecting to an application over the Internet. Today, application traffic has to travel from a device to a cell tower to metro aggregation sites to regional aggregation sites and to the Internet before it can access resources running in AWS. These network hops can result in latencies of more than 100 milliseconds. This prevents developers from realizing the full potential of 5G to address low-latency use-cases.
Wavelength addresses these problems by bringing AWS services to the edge of the 5G network, minimizing the latency to connect to an application from a mobile device. With Wavelength, AWS developers can deploy their applications to Wavelength Zones, AWS infrastructure deployments that embed AWS compute and storage services within the network operators’ datacenters at the edge of the 5G network, so application traffic only needs to travel from the device to a cell tower to a Wavelength Zone running in a metro aggregation site. This removes a lot of the latency that would result from multiple hops between regional aggregation sites and across the Internet, which enables customers to take full advantage of 5G networks. Wavelength also delivers a consistent developer experience across multiple 5G networks around the world, and allows developers to build the next generation of ultra-low latency applications using the familiar AWS services, APIs, and tools they already use today – eliminating the need for developers to negotiate for space and equipment with multiple telecommunications providers, and stitch together application deployment and operations through different management interfaces, before they can begin to deploy their applications.
AWS Wavelength combines the power of the AWS cloud with the cutting-edge 5G networks of leading telecommunications providers like Verizon, Vodafone, KDDI, and SK Telecom to unlock a new wave of innovative applications and services around the world. By delivering these new capabilities, Wavelength enables developers to serve mobile users with single-digit millisecond latency and to optimize their applications by processing data closer to its source, enabling use-cases across a wide range of platforms – from factories to stores to cars to homes.
To deploy their application to the 5G edge, developers can simply extend their Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) to include a Wavelength Zone and then create AWS resources like Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances, Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS) volumes, and AWS Elastic Container Service (ECS) and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Services (EKS) containers. In addition, developers can continue to use familiar and powerful AWS services to manage, secure, and scale their applications like AWS CloudFormation, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), and AWS Auto Scaling. This enables developers to easily run a wide variety of latency-sensitive workloads like analytics, IoT, machine learning, game streaming, and AR/VR.”
With Wavelength, we bring 5G and cloud together to give our customers the powerful new capability to run cloud services consistently within a few milliseconds of mobile end-users,” said Matt Garman, Vice President Compute Services, AWS. “This is a game changer for developers that is going to unlock a whole new generation of applications and services. We are really excited to see our customers innovate with these unique new capabilities that they did not have access to before.
AWS Wavelength: Partner testimonials:
From the AWS press announcement, here are current Amazon’s Wavelength partners’ testimonial statements:
“Verizon is building the most powerful 5G network in the U.S. Launched in April, Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network is currently live in 18 cities as well as 16 sporting and entertainment arenas across the country, and plans to expand to more than 30 U.S. cities by the end of this year. “Continuing our tradition of bringing new technology to market first we are excited to launch a mobile edge compute service — integrating our 5G Edge platform with Wavelength to allow developers to build new categories of applications and network cloud experiences,” said Kyle Malady, CTO of Verizon. “Bringing together the full capabilities of Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network and AWS, we unlock the full potential of our 5G services for customers to create applications and solutions with the fastest speeds and ultra-low latency.”
Verizon and AWS will integrate AWS – Wavelength with 5G Edge so developers can begin testing applications on ultra-low latency networks. The plan is to connect 5G applications to AWS cloud services without the hops. The two companies will bring compute and storage closer to 5G users. Deployments are planned in Chicago for select customers in 2020 with additional locations added throughout the year.
“Varjo Technologies Oy is based in Helsinki and is creating the world’s best hardware and software for groundbreaking VR/AR/XR computing devices, merging the real and digital worlds seamlessly together in human-eye resolution. “Simulating things at the same acuity you see in real life is a game changer compared to standard VR approaches. Varjo’s unique human-eye resolution technology helps professionals save time, money, and effort,” said Niko Eiden, Founder and CEO, Varjo. “Not too far down the road, our technology will be fully wireless, collaborative mixed reality. And this workspace of the future needs to be rendered in the cloud – with millions of pixels of extremely high-resolution, uncompressed content with single-digit millisecond latencies delivered to our devices – whether on premises at carmakers or in remote sites, through 5G. Now, instead of having to develop expensive local computing services that would be impossible to run on a battery-operated device, we can use edge computing to scale the rendering power and the business of our industrial-grade VR/MR from thousands to hundreds of thousands of units. Having access to the power of the AWS Cloud, together with 5G’s high bandwidth, low latency, and increased connectivity, is vital to our ability to deliver professional immersive computing experiences and to grow our business.”
“Mapbox is the location data platform for mobile and web developers, providing building blocks to add location features like maps, search, and navigation into any experience and changing the way people move around cities and explore the world. Mapbox tools are used by more than 1.7 million live location developers to power daily experiences for people, technology, and business. “Everyone needs maps, so 600 million people touch Mapbox every month as they read the headlines of the New York Times, check the weather on Weather.com, and find great restaurants or concerts on Facebook,” said Eric Gundersen, CEO and Co-Founder, Mapbox. “Our map gets smarter every time someone touches it, using AI to constantly update traffic and new streets — AWS Wavelength’s ultra-low-latency compute can help us process billions of sensor data updates into better maps by identifying new roads as they’re built, routing drivers around traffic jams, and spotting road construction with the Vision SDK. AWS Wavelength can reduce our refresh timelines from minutes to seconds, delivering Mapbox users a truly living map.”
“SK Telecom, the largest mobile operator in Korea, with nearly 50 percent market share, has been leading the global mobile industry through constant innovations in technologies and services. As a 5G pioneer, SK Telecom is also one of the first telco providers to launch commercial 5G mobile-edge computing (MEC) in collaboration with AWS. “By combining the strengths of SK Telecom’s 5G network and AWS cloud, we are set to bring innovative changes to all individuals, businesses and industries. This collaboration enables exciting use cases like game streaming, headless robotics, Ultra High Definition interactive media, autonomous driving, and smart factories. For example, through the application of AWS Wavelength and SK Telecom’s advanced 5G solutions, a smart factory can enhance the response time of robots performing maintenance, security, and manufacturing tasks, allowing the factory to scale operations without increasing costs,” said Ryu Young-sang, Vice President and Head of MNO Business, SK Telecom. “SK Telecom and AWS are deploying 5G multi-access cloud services at the edge, helping third-party developers and enterprises improve quality of experience, create business models, and accelerate time to market for new revenue opportunities. With SK Telecom’s 5G network, we can jointly develop sophisticated cloud services that can create greater value for enterprises of any size in Korea.”
“Vodafone Group is one of the world’s leading telecoms and technology service providers, with extensive experience in connectivity, convergence and the Internet of Things, as well as championing mobile financial services and digital transformation in emerging markets. Vodafone Business and AWS will provide multi-access edge computing capabilities to developers, Internet of Things (IoT), devices and end users by bringing the AWS cloud closer to the devices that need it, and running AWS Wavelength in strategic locations within Vodafone’s 5G network. “With Europe’s largest 5G network across 58 cities and as a global leader in the Internet of Things (IoT) with over 90 million connections, Vodafone is pleased to be the first telco to introduce AWS Wavelength in Europe,” said Vinod Kumar, CEO of Vodafone Business. “Faster speeds and lower latencies have the potential to revolutionize how our customers do business, and they can rely on Vodafone’s existing capabilities and security layers within our own network.”
“KDDI, a leading telecommunications provider in Japan, offers services that include both mobile and fixed-line communications, and Internet services. KDDI, which plans to launch commercial 5G services in Japan by March 2020, is actively developing its 5G network to enable enhanced Mobile Broadband in both densely populated metropolitan areas and rural areas. “In preparation for our 5G service launch, KDDI has been successfully proving that 5G can be delivered with reliable service quality in Japan in metropolitan and rural locations. We have achieved successful trials, like 5G handovers for high-speed racing cars and trains, a real-time, free-viewpoint video stream at a baseball stadium, and 4K video communication at a major station,” said Makoto Takahashi, President, KDDI. “Having the power of the AWS cloud processing and storage services available at the edge of the KDDI 5G network enables us to accelerate IoT innovation for applications like high-definition VR video streaming, VPS (visual positioning service), smart factories, autonomous vehicles, and more. AWS Wavelength provides Japanese businesses and consumers immediate access to these services over the KDDI 5G network. This will also enable us to address some of Japan’s pressing societal issues, such as revitalizing economies in areas facing population decline, rebuilding infrastructure, and improving prompt reaction to natural disasters.”
The tight coupling of 5G networks with edge computing raises challenging interoperability questions. Currently, it appears that a U.S. end user wanting to use an application that relies on a AWS Wavelength Zone would have to be a Verizon 5G Edge customer with a Verizon 5G end point device. That’s not how we usually think about “the cloud,” which today can be accessed from a wide range of different vendor devices over a wide range of connectivity providers.
At MWC 2019, A&T announced it was working with Microsoft Azure to bring network edge computing (NEC) closer to the end point. We wrote in February 2019 that AT&T is using drones to test the network edge compute capabilities with Azure, working with Israel-based startup Vorpal in its foundry in Plano, TX. Microsoft provided new details of its Azure – AT&T 5G partnership on November 26th:
Microsoft Azure cloud services are being integrated into AT&T network edge locations (closer to customers). This means AT&T’s software-defined and virtualized 5G core – what the company calls the Network Cloud – is now capable of delivering Azure services. NEC will initially be available for a limited set of select customers in Dallas. Next year, Los Angeles and Atlanta are targeted for select customer availability.
That implies if you are an AT&T 5G customer you will, at some point in time, likely have access to Microsoft Azure cloud services via NEC. However, AT&T customers won’t be able to access NEC for any other cloud provider, i.e. AWS, Google Cloud, etc.
Hence, you only get the advantages of edge computing (with much lower latency) if you are locked in to a pair of 5G network and cloud providers that have an edge computing partnership.
And what about roaming or truly mobile, such that a 5G endpoint device (in a train, car, bus, ship, etc) moves from one Wavelength Zone or 5G network to another? Will there be any sort of hand-off between providers and will the 5G device be able to operate on more than the 5G network it subscribed to?
Once again, this issue can only be solved once the complete suite of IMT 2020 standards are finalized and implemented by 5G network operators and endpoint device makers!
New data from Synergy Research Group shows that the total number of large data centers operated by hyperscale providers increased to 504 at the end of the third quarter, having tripled since the beginning of 2013. The EMEA and Asia-Pacific regions continue to have the highest growth rates, though the US still accounts for almost 40% of the major cloud and internet data center sites.
The next most popular locations are China, Japan, the UK, Germany and Australia, which collectively account for another 32% of the total. Over the last four quarters new data centers were opened in 15 different countries with the U.S., Hong Kong, Switzerland and China having the largest number of additions. Among the hyperscale operators, Amazon and Microsoft opened the most new data centers in the last twelve months, accounting for over half of the total, with Google and Alibaba being the next most active companies. Synergy research indicates that over 70% of all hyperscale data centers are located in facilities that are leased from data center operators or are owned by partners of the hyperscale operators.
One vendor in the data center equipment space recently called hyperscale “too big for most minds to envision.” Scalability has always been about creating opportunities to do small things using resources that happen to encompass a very large scale.
IDC, which provides research and advisory services to the tech industry, classifies any data center with at least 5,000 servers and 10,000 square feet of available space as hyperscale, but Synergy Research Group focuses less on physical characteristics and more on “scale-of-business criteria” that assess a company’s cloud, e-commerce, and social media operations.
A hyperscale data center is to be distinguished from a multi-tenant data center as the former is owned and operated by a mega cloud provider (Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Alibaba, etc) while the latter is owned and operator by a real estate company that leases cages to tenants who supply their own IT equipment.
A hyperscale data center accomplishes the following functions:
- Maximizes cooling efficiency. The largest operational expense in most data centers worldwide — more so than powering the servers — is powering the climate control systems. A hyperscale structure may be partitioned to compartmentalize high-intensity computing workloads, and concentrate cooling power on the servers hosting those workloads. For general-purpose workloads, a hyperscale architecture optimizes airflow throughout the structure, ensuring that hot air flows in one direction (even if it’s a serpentine one) and often reclaiming the heat from that exhaust flow for recycling purposes.
- Allocates electrical power in discrete packages. In facilities designed to be occupied by multiple tenants, “blocks” are allocated like lots in a housing development. Here, the racks that occupy those blocks are allocated a set number of kilowatts — or, more recently, fractions of megawatts — from the main power supply. When a tenant leases space from a colocation provider, that space is often phrased not in terms of numbers of racks or square footage, but kilowatts. A design that’s more influenced by hyperscale helps ensure that kilowatts are available when a customer needs them.
- Ensures electricity availability. Many enterprise data centers are equipped with redundant power sources (engineers call this configuration 2N), often backed up by a secondary source or generator (2N + 1). A hyperscale facility may utilize one of these configurations as well, although in recent years, workload management systems have made it feasible to replicate workloads across servers, making the workloads redundant rather than the power, reducing electrical costs. As a result, newer data centers don’t require all that power redundancy. They can get away with just N + 1, saving not just equipment costs but building costs as well.
- Balances workloads across servers. Because heat tends to spread, one overheated server can easily become a nuisance for the other servers and network gear in its vicinity. When workloads and processor utilization are properly monitored, the virtual machines and/or containers housing high-intensity workloads may be relocated to, or distributed among, processors that are better suited to its functions, or that are simply not being utilized nearly as much at the moment. Even distribution of workloads directly correlates to temperature reduction, so how a data center manages its software is just as important as how it maintains its support systems.
Synergy’s research is based on an analysis of the data center footprint of 20 of the world’s major cloud and internet service firms, including the largest operators in SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, search, social networking, e-commerce and gaming. The companies with the broadest data center footprint are the leading cloud providers – Amazon, Microsoft, Google and IBM. Each has 60 or more data center locations with at least three in each of the four regions – North America, APAC, EMEA and Latin America. Oracle also has a notably broad data center presence. The remaining firms tend to have their data centers focused primarily in either the US (Apple, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Yahoo) or China (Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent).
“There were more new hyperscale data centers opened in the last four quarters than in the preceding four quarters, with activity being driven in particular by continued strong growth in cloud services and social networking,” said John Dinsdale, a Chief Analyst and Research Director at Synergy Research Group.
“This is good news for wholesale data center operators and for vendors supplying the hardware that goes into those data centers. In addition to the 504 current hyperscale data centers we have visibility of a further 151 that are at various stages of planning or building, showing that there is no end in sight to the data center building boom.”
About Synergy Research Group:
Synergy provides quarterly market tracking and segmentation data on IT and Cloud related markets, including vendor revenues by segment and by region. Market shares and forecasts are provided via Synergy’s uniquely designed online database tool, which enables easy access to complex data sets. Synergy’s CustomView ™ takes this research capability one step further, enabling our clients to receive on-going quantitative market research that matches their internal, executive view of the market segments they compete in.
Synergy Research Group helps marketing and strategic decision makers around the world via its syndicated market research programs and custom consulting projects. For nearly two decades, Synergy has been a trusted source for quantitative research and market intelligence. Synergy is a strategic partner of TeleGeography.
To speak to an analyst or to find out how to receive a copy of a Synergy report, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-852-3330 extension 101.
AT&T has entered into a multi-year, cloud-based collaborative effort with Microsoft the day after announcing an alliance with IBM  that also focused on cloud computing. The teleco and media giant will move many of its non-network apps to Microsoft Azure and use the company’s 365 software suite while Microsoft will deploy new AT&T technologies, such as 5G, to build edge computing applications.
Comment: This is yet another proof point that telco cloud computing has been a dismal failure. AT&T and Verizon have both sold off many of their data centers and given up on cloud computing/storage in favor of the much bigger players (e.g. Amazon, Microsoft, Google and IBM in the U.S.). This new agreement appears to be a big win for Microsoft Azure, and probably at the expense of Amazon AWS, Google and IBM cloud rivals.
“AT&T and Microsoft are among the most committed companies to fostering technology that serves people,” said John Donovan, CEO of AT&T Communications in a prepared statement. “By working together on common efforts around 5G, the cloud, and AI, we will accelerate the speed of innovation and impact for our customers and our communities,” he added (John is NEVER at a loss for words!)
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella with AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan
The AT&T Microsoft partnership appears to be broader than the just announced AT&T IBM deal (see note 1 below). That deal is cloud-focused as well but is limited to the AT&T Business Solutions business unit, helping to better manage internal applications. A key objective of the IBM deal is to provide tools for AT&T Business solutions to better serve enterprise customers.
AT&T partnerships on edge computing:
AT&T and Microsoft had earlier announced a deal on mobile edge computing which we reported here. Earlier this year, AT&T said it will work with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to help businesses harness powerful edge capabilities. The two companies have agreed to a go-to-market program to accelerate business adoption of edge connections and edge computing.
Note 1. AT&T – IBM Cloud Parthership:
AT&T Communications will work with IBM to modernize AT&T Business Solutions’ internal software applications, enabling migrations to the IBM Cloud. IBM will provide infrastructure to support AT&T Business’s applications. AT&T Business will use the Red Hat open source platform to manage workloads and applications. IBM will be the primary developer and cloud provider for AT&T Business’s operational applications and will help manage the AT&T Communications IT infrastructure, on and off-premises and across different clouds –private and public.
As part of the agreement, AT&T Business will be IBM’s primary provider of software defined networking and will leverage the carrier’s latest technologies including 5G, Edge Compute, and IoT as well as multi-cloud capabilities using Red Hat.
Additionally, the two companies will work together on edge computing platforms, which will help enterprise clients capitalize on the power of 5G network speeds and the internet-connected devices and sensors at the edge of the network.
“In AT&T Business, we’re constantly evolving to better serve business customers around the globe by securely connecting them to the digital capabilities they need,” said Thaddeus Arroyo, CEO of AT&T Business, in a prepared statement. “This includes optimizing our core operations and modernizing our internal business applications to accelerate innovation. Through our collaboration with IBM, we’re adopting open, flexible, cloud technologies, that will ultimately help accelerate our business leadership.”
Following is information and insight from the IHS Markit Cloud & Colocation Services for IT Infrastructure and Applications Market Tracker.
· The global off-premises cloud service market is forecast to grow at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16 percent, reaching $410 billion in 2023.
· We expect cloud as a service (CaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) to be tied for the largest 2018 to 2023 CAGR of 22 percent. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) will have the second and third largest CAGRs of 14 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
IHS Markit analysis:
Microsoft in 2018 became the market share leader for total off-premises cloud service revenue with 13.8 percent share, bumping Amazon to the #2 spot with 13.2 percent; IBM was #3 with 8.8 percent revenue share. Microsoft’s success can be attributed to its comprehensive portfolio and the growth it is experiencing from its more advanced PaaS and CaaS offerings.
Although Amazon relinquished its lead in total off-premises cloud service revenue, it remains the top IaaS provider. In this very segmented market with a small number of large, well-established providers competing for market share:
• Amazon was #1 in IaaS in 2018 with 45 percent of IaaS revenue.
• Microsoft was #1 for CaaS with 22 percent of CaaS revenue and #1 in PaaS with 27 percent of PaaS revenue.
• IBM was #1 for SaaS with 17 percent of SaaS revenue.
“Multi-clouds  remain a very popular trend in the market; many enterprises are already using various services from different providers and this is continuing as more cloud service providers (CSPs) offer services that interoperate with services from their partners and their competitors,” said Devan Adams, principal analyst, IHS Markit. Expectations of increased multi-cloud adoption were displayed in our recent Cloud Service Strategies & Leadership North American Enterprise Survey – 2018, where respondents stated that in 2018 they were using 10 different CSPs for SaaS (growing to 14 by 2020) and 10 for IT infrastructure (growing to 13 by 2020).
Note 1. Multi-cloud (also multicloud or multi cloud) is the use of multiple cloud computing and storage services in a single network architecture. This refers to the distribution of cloud assets, software, applications, and more across several cloud environments.
There have recently been numerous multi-cloud related announcements highlighting its increased availability, including:
· Microsoft: Entered into a partnership with Adobe and SAP to create the Open Data Initiative, designed to provide customers with a complete view of their data across different platforms. The initiative allows customers to use several applications and platforms from the three companies including Adobe Experience Cloud and Experience Platform, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Azure, and SAP C/4HANA and S/4HANA.
· IBM: Launched Multicloud Manager, designed to help companies manage, move, and integrate apps across several cloud environments. Multicloud Manager is run from IBM’s Cloud Private and enables customers to extend workloads from public to private clouds.
· Cisco: Introduced CloudCenter Suite, a set of software modules created to help businesses design and deploy applications on different cloud provider infrastructures. It is a Kubernetes-based multi-cloud management tool that provides workflow automation, application lifecycle management, cost optimization, governance and policy management across cloud provider data centers.
IHS Markit Cloud & Colocation Intelligence Service:
The bi-annual IHS Markit Cloud & Colocation Services Market Tracker covers worldwide and regional market size, share, five-year forecast analysis, and trends for IaaS, CaaS, PaaS, SaaS, and colocation. This tracker is a component of the IHS Markit Cloud & Colocation Intelligence Service which also includes the Cloud & Colocation Data Center Building Tracker and Cloud and Colocation Data Center CapEx Market Tracker. Cloud service providers tracked within this service include Amazon, Alibaba, Baidu, IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce, Google, Oracle, SAP, China Telecom, Deutsche Telekom Tencent, China Unicom and others. Colocation providers tracked include Equinix, Digital Realty, China Telecom, CyrusOne, NTT, Interion, China Unicom, Coresite, QTS, Switch, 21Vianet, Internap and others.
AT&T announced at MWC 2019 that it is working with Microsoft on a proof of concept to integrate network edge compute (NEC) capabilities with its 5G network and Microsoft Azure cloud services. The solution would be important for the industries and Internet of Things (IoT) use cases of retail, healthcare, public safety, entertainment, and manufacturing, AT&T said, as it would provide businesses with lower latency, access to high compute power, and network routing without needing on-premises hardware.
“We’re testing our ability to substantially reduce latency and improve user experience by deploying advanced cloud services in specific geographic locations closer to business sites. A fully-scaled deployment will give businesses access to compute power, lower latency and optimized network routing without the need for dedicated on-premises hardware.” These advantages will be important for the low-latency cloud and IoT solutions used by retail, healthcare, public safety, manufacturing and entertainment.
Last month, AT&T* announced its approach to 5G for businesses, laying out three key pillars: mobile, fixed and edge computing.
“Our collaboration will pave the way to enable Microsoft Azure cloud services to connect to more customers and devices across the US through AT&T’s nationwide wireless network,” Microsoft corporate VP of Azure Networking Yousef Khalidi said. “Our two companies are working together to achieve the low-latency connectivity needed for the explosion of devices and immense amount of data being created by computing at the edge,” he added.
AT&T is using drones to test the network edge compute capabilities with Azure, working with Israel-based startup Vorpal in its foundry in Plano, Texas. Vorpal’s VigilAir product detects and geo-locates drones in real-time, which could be used by law enforcement agencies and airports.
“By running their VigilAir application using Azure cloud services delivered through the Plano AT&T test environment, and connecting their drone-tracking sensors using AT&T LTE and 5G networks, Vorpal could achieve the low latency and compute scalability required,” the carrier said.
AT&T expects to share more details about NEC services with Microsoft Azure later this year. NEC is part of AT&T’s broader edge compute strategy that also includes AT&T Multi-Access Edge Compute (MEC).
Earlier at MWC 2019, AT&T announced it’s working with Vodafone Business on IoT applications for the automotive space, including safety, security, and entertainment.
“This alliance with Vodafone Business is a natural extension of our existing relationship,” said Chris Penrose, President, Internet of Things Solutions, AT&T. “We each have rich experience in connected vehicle technology. By working together, we can innovate faster and help our global customers bring connectivity, entertainment and telematics to more vehicles across our respective footprints.”
“Our work with AT&T will benefit automotive manufacturers and their customers around the world as we simplify processes and provide a consistent experience to accelerate IoT adoption in this fast-moving market,” said Stefano Gastaut, IoT Director, Vodafone Business. “As technology complexity increases, this is the right time to make technology adoption easier for the automotive industry to help them achieve their business outcomes. This is the goal of this alliance.”
The two companies said they would develop connected car solutions across 5G and autonomous vehicle technology; vehicle-to-everything (V2X) capabilities; in-vehicle entertainment; connected car applications and services; global service quality models; and the intersection of connected cars and smart cities.
The companies will prioritize projects to enhance safety, security and entertainment capabilities. Key areas of focus will be:
- 5G and autonomous vehicle technology
- V2X capabilities (vehicle-to-everything)
- In-vehicle entertainment
- Connected car applications and services
- Global service quality models
- Connected car/ smart cities intersection
AT&T and Vodafone Business each provide connected car services and products for the automotive, fleet and insurance industries. They integrate electronic and telematics systems into complex vehicles, both at the point of manufacture and beyond. Together, the companies bring more than 50 years of experience in the automotive industry. And they collectively work with nearly 50 global automotive brands and connect more than 43 million cars and trucks on the road today.
Japanese telecommunications network provider NTT Communications is the market leader in the Asia-Pacific telecom cloud segment, and is well placed to maintain its position, according to GlobalData. In a new report, the market research company said NTT Communications has carved out a lead due to its software-defined capabilities, wide network and data center coverage and an expanded portfolio thanks to its integration with sister companies. According to the report, the cloud market landscape is evolving in the Asia-Pacific region. While web-scale players such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Alibaba are continually expanding in the regions, telecoms operators are carving out a niche by offering integrated network and cloud services.
NTT Communications is the leader in the APAC telco cloud services market with the highest overall score based on four categories – cloud portfolio, data center footprints, software-defined infrastructure and supplemental services.
“Cloud products offered by telcos are comparable in terms of technical capabilities and ecosystem partners,” GlobalData analyst Alfie Amir said. “What differentiates NTT Communications from the rest is its wide footprint and presence in the region to address data residency and latency requirements, as well as its software-defined capabilities which offer better workload management and service orchestration,” he added.
Australia-based Telstra and France-based Orange Business Services are in second and third place. While these providers have similar capabilities to NTT Communications, they are slightly behind with their footprints in the region. However, they are rapidly closing the gap, with Orange Business Services having partnered with Huawei to drive expansion in the region – particularly in China, and Telstra recently announcing a partnership with Equinix for direct access to more infrastructure globally.
The initiatives by telco cloud providers to add software defined capabilities, expand their footprints and enhance service capabilities are in-line with enterprises’ digital transformation directions. Enterprises today are looking for cloud providers with extensive cloud portfolios, not just the traditional IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, but also cloud-based IT services such as IoT platform, UCaaS, security and marketplace that offer various horizontal and vertical applications.
“The APAC cloud market is still growing fast as the market emerges, while the competition is getting more intense driven by the web-scale players,” Amir said. “Telcos need to continue to leverage their network strengths and at the same time, include latest technologies such as self-service tools, analytics and AI in their offerings to gain competitive advantage,” he added.
Above illustration courtesy of K-Hits which has a report on the global telecom cloud market.
According to Larry Dignan of ZDNET, “the cloud computing market in 2019 will have a decidedly multi-cloud spin, as the hybrid shift by players such as IBM, which is acquiring Red Hat, could change the landscape. This year’s edition of the top cloud computing providers also features software-as-a-service giants that will increasingly run more of your enterprise’s operations via expansion.
One thing to note about the cloud in 2019 is that the market isn’t zero sum. Cloud computing is driving IT spending overall. For instance, Gartner predicts that 2019 global IT spending will increase 3.2 percent to $3.76 trillion with as-a-service models fueling everything from data center spending to enterprise software. In fact, it’s quite possible that a large enterprise will consume cloud computing services from every vendor in this guide. The real cloud innovation may be from customers that mix and match the following public cloud vendors in unique ways. ”
Key 2019 themes to watch among the top cloud providers include:
- Pricing power. Google recently raised prices of G Suite and the cloud space is a technology where add-ons exist for most new technologies. While compute and storage services are often a race to the bottom, tools for machine learning, artificial intelligence and serverless functions can add up. There’s a good reason that cost management is such a big theme for cloud computing customers–it’s arguably the biggest challenge. Look for cost management and concerns about lock-in to be big themes.
- Multi-cloud. A recent survey from Kentik highlights how public cloud customers are increasingly using more than one vendor. AWS and Microsoft Azure are most often paired up. Google Cloud Platform is also in the mix. And naturally these public cloud service providers are often tied into existing data center and private cloud assets. Add it up and there’s a healthy hybrid and private cloud race underway and that’s reordered the pecking order. The multi-cloud approach is being enabled by virtual machines and containers.
- Artificial intelligence, Internet of things and analytics are the upsell technologies for cloud vendors. Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform all have similar strategies to land customers with compute, cloud storage, serverless functions and then upsell you to the AI that’ll differentiate them. Companies like IBM are looking to manage AI and cloud services across multiple clouds.
- The cloud computing landscape is maturing rapidly yet financial transparency backslides. It’s telling when Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for cloud infrastructure goes to 6 players from more than a dozen. In addition, transparency has become worse among cloud computing providers. For instance, Oracle used to break out infrastructure-, platform- and software-as-a-service in its financial reports. Today, Oracle’s cloud business is lumped together. Microsoft has a “commercial cloud” that is very successful, but also hard to parse. IBM has cloud revenue and “as-a-service” revenue. Google doesn’t break out cloud revenue at all. Aside from AWS, parsing cloud sales has become more difficult.
IBM is more private cloud and hybrid with hooks into IBM Cloud as well as other cloud environments. Oracle Cloud is primarily a software- and database-as-a-service provider. Salesforce has become about way more than CRM.
CenturyLink has unveiled its Dynamic Connections, a Layer 2 (L2) based offering that provides access to many different cloud computing services. The third biggest U.S. wire-line carrier has partnered with Amazon Web Services and AWS GovCloud, saying it will add connections to Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure in coming weeks, then will add IBM, Oracle and other cloud computing services.
With growing day-to-day operations, organizations need a fast and easier way to connect their locations and data centers to cloud service providers. CenturyLink says they offer a complete portfolio of solutions for cloud connectivity. The company’s global access and extensive wavelength, Ethernet and IP VPN connectivity options are designed to meet today’s hybrid cloud requirements.
CenturyLink says they will provide high-performance connections to AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, and other leading public and private clouds along with more than 2,200 third-party data centers.
Dynamic Connections is available to enterprise and government customers in fiber-fed buildings globally. CenturyLink has about 130,000 of those today, via an optical Ethernet port.
According to CenturyLink, the customer needs the right hardware and the right size port, but assuming that, they can turn up bandwidth from “as small as 10 Megabits/sec to up to 3 Gigabits/sec,” says Paul Savill, senior vice president of core network and technology solutions at CenturyLink.
“They would use log-in credentials to pull an inventory of all Ethernet ports they have at that enterprise in their locations across the world and they can then see that either in a map view or a list view,” Savill explains. “Then they can drill down to whatever location they want to connect- pick that Ethernet port and then pick the cloud service provider they want, at wherever location that is in the world, whatever data center it is running in, and then indicate the size of the bandwidth.”
Savill said that competing multi-cloud connect offerings –from AT&T’s NetBond, Verizon’s Secure Cloud Interconnect and Orange Business Services’ private and public cloud connections, etc. “can’t match our scale and flexibility.” [There is also Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric].
As a L2 service, it doesn’t touch the Internet, which thereby provides greater security. In addition, CenturyLink is offering an open API for the service so that enterprise customers can build it into their own back-office systems and use those for provisioning instead of the portal.
After CenturyLink acquired Savvis in 2011, the combined company attempted to promote its own cloud computing service using MPLS IP VPN for customer access to it. This new multi-cloud connect service is a huge improvement over that earlier solution. It will be interesting to see how it competes with AT&T Netbond, Verizon’s Secure Cloud Interconnect service, and Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric.
Cignal AI’s (Andrew Schmitt) latest Optical Customer Markets Report states that spending growth by cable Multiple System Operators (MSOs) led all other North American industry verticals during first quarter 2018. The report also reveals that contrary to continued increase in China’s optical spending, incumbent network operator spending in North America and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) on optical transport equipment continues to decline. Spending in North America grew 30 percent and outpaced all other customer verticals, including cloud operators.
Indeed, optical equipment spending by cloud operators has stalled due to rapidly declining prices and the use of IP-over-WDM as a substitute. Despite the downward trend, however, Ciena and Infinera continue to increase market share in the cloud optical network market.
“In North America, cable MSOs were the strongest performing customer market during the first quarter of 2018,” says Andrew Schmitt, lead analyst at Cignal AI. “Cloud operators are not increasing purchases of optical equipment, though common belief right now is just the opposite. The revenue growth from cloud operators experienced by Ciena and Infinera came at the expense of other vendors’ sales.”
Other key findings in the report include China being the largest source of optical hardware market growth, almost single-handedly representing the one-third global spending by Asia. Global spending by cable MSOs grew 5% year-over-year in the first quarter, with North America increasing 30%.
Other findings of the report were outlined in the press release and included:
- Ciena and Infinera sales growth in the cloud and colo market came during a period of overall spending decline among these customers (see above chart).
- Optical equipment spending by cloud operators has stalled, which contradicts the common perception that cloud operators like Amazon, Google and Microsoft are increasing spending on optical transport equipment. Growth in the cloud market has been inhibited by rapidly declining prices and the use of IP over WDM as a substitute.
- One third of global spending on optical hardware is in Asia, with almost all coming from Chinese incumbent operators.
- Cable MSO global spending grew 5 percent year-over-year in the first quarter.
Cignal AI’s Optical Customer Markets Report is issued quarterly and quantifies optical equipment sales to five key customer markets as well as equipment vendor market share for sales to cloud operators.
From a separate Cignal AI market research report, here’s the latest YoY Revenue % increase/decrease for various segments of the optical networking market by country or region and Grand Total:
Chart courtesy of Cignal AI