The Rise of Open Service Delivery Platforms at the Network Edge

We talked to Paul Parker-Johnson, Principal Analyst for Cloud & Virtual System Infrastructure at ACG Research about what is going on at the network edge and what it takes to succeed as a solutions provider.

By Fredrik Ehrenstråle

Why is the network edge of such interest when it comes to service enablement and delivery?

The edge has always been of special interest, and this is true in both residential broadband, mobile wireless, and enterprise/business wireline. The reason is that policies, quality assurance, internet access, mobility, user authentication, value added services, and VPNs are all enforced here. What we are experiencing now is an inflection point where the infrastructure and the services it delivers are being virtualized and enhanced at a rapid pace.

You mean the shift from purpose-built appliances to general purpose processors and cloud-native designs?

Exactly! The industry is undergoing quite a revolution as general purpose processing and common software infrastructures provide significantly superior economics on a sustained deployment basis. What previously could only be done in a closed OS and software environment can now be done on a shared processor infrastructure and a common software underpinning. Furthermore, service delivery has become much more rapid and agile by using cloud-native designs which can run containers and virtual machines in parallel.

What does this mean for business network services in particular?

Primarily an emphasis on innovation by embedding an increasing amount of computing intelligence, and adding new dimensions to applications that businesses want to support. It is no longer about just transaction processing, inventory management and resource planning, but also about real-time monitoring, supply chain management and logistics that are supported across multiple platforms. Consequently, the range and diversity of applications at the network edge is growing.

Along with a growing importance of efficient and flexible services integration to take full advantage of the cloud?

Precisely. We need a whole new class of business networking solutions with software versatility and cloud-native DNA, that are hardware agnostic, highly elastic, diversely connected, preferably model-driven, and thoroughly automated.

What will separate the winners from losers at the edge?

It is absolutely vital to have domain and use case expertise, but to be truly successful in the market you will need to adopt a new and expanded blend of talent and expertise. The new ecosystems that are forming are more diverse than before and the role of open source communities is stronger across a wider range of infrastructure categories (i.e management and orchestration platforms). You will need to be skilled at participating in open source communities and in blending open source technologies with specialized enhancements to provide whole, deployable solutions.

That sounds like quite a balancing act?

Not everyone will have that capacity. Especially since you need to top that with a profound understanding of large scale network deployment, and a modular code base that includes a blend of open source, co-developed, and even proprietary contributions.

Thank you Paul!