Gartner: Telecom at the Edge + Distributed Cloud in 3 Stages

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:

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
the installation.

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.


Gartner Group Innovation & Insight: Cutting Through the 5G Hype

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