Open source the secret sauce for telco success at the edge

Open source the secret sauce for telco success at the edge

edge panel screen shot.jpg

Telcos looking for a partner as they navigate the opportunities in edge, could do well to look to open source.

That was one the key takeaways from Edge Global  Week as delegates were advised to reach out to the developer community to build inhouse capabilities during the day two panel, Can telcos get the edge on edge?

Raymond Liao, VP and MD of Next Ventures at Samsung Next, said: "I think telco need to pay more attention to open source. That is actually a huge source of innovation these days because the whole enterprise IT industry is transforming."

That isn't to say developer partnerships can replace partnerships with hyperscalers. According to Liao, in the race to the edge it's a case of if you can't beat your competitors, join them.

He continued: "There is a new business model: sort of how do you grow your network more efficiently like a hyperscaler? That way I see the biggest innovation is where the potential partnership could come from."

Expanding on his point, Liao said that telcos should also seize the opportunities in edge compute and storage to enhance their network operations, "because you cannot just sell infrastructure anymore".

Sharing her experience at Cox Communications, director of edge platforms Nancy Li said that attracting and retaining such talent for in-house roles would demand a proactive approach.

She said: "A developer will never come to a big Verizon or Cox or those big companies. They have their own community, so it is more important for us to go into their community to meet where they are and provide the right resources based on their needs so we can help them to build competitive advantage."

Liao and Li were joined on the panel by Dennis Chan, AVP - OTT, International Business, HGC Global Communications and Rob High, IBM fellow, VP and CTO for IBM Edge Computing. The discussion was moderated by Tilly Gilbert, senior consultant, STL Partners.

Li continued: "Through our engagement with those developer communities we learn that developers want to focus on what they are good at, which is building applications and… providing the best customer experience.

"From our perspective where we can help them is we will ease your transformation into edge, provide you the best platform, such as Full Stack, and eliminate a vendor or cloud lock in so it is way easier to serve your customers. And on top still enjoy the convenience and value of edge in terms of low latency and saving the roundtrip costs and so we are able to bring this developer ecosystem together."

Building a network

High said there are two "prevailing motions of flight" in the market at present. The first is the outsourcing model, which he termed "cloud out" and said risks creating dependency on hyperscale cloud providers.

High termed the second motion "edge in" and explained: "[Telcos] want to have the freedom of movement to both leverage multiple cloud providers for different back-end systems, maybe for different parts of the business or between the cloud provider and their own IT data centre infrastructure, or at least have the flexibility to move if they need to."

He then said: "I think this is where the telcos can play the game quite well, which is yes of course you have to enable for that cloud out motion because it gives you access to the developer community, and of course it enables access to incumbents. But do so in such a way that gives the flexibility with sort of an edge in motion on top of that and I mean you have to limit and constrain all the things the hyperscaler brings into your telco cloud environment.

"The telcos are in a really unique position because they are between the cloud and the end user in many ways, both physically as well as logically in terms of the relationship. I think that's an opportunity for the telcos to both broker that openness but take advantage of that openness to yield value back to the clients who need that," High added.

However, for Li, independence remained key. She said: "I do believe that others in the telco space need to be very strategic, monitor the partnership and see what's the best for yourself. That's why we believe that building our own edge platform and ecosystem is the best way moving forward for the long term.

"We need to be the main driver. Here is the opportunity presented in front of us, how you steer the boat is up to you."

During Edge Global Week, we also heard about edge drivers from VMWare and the role of local fibre and 5G

Gift this article