Telcos urged to collaborate with colocation firms for edge computing demand

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A panel at Datacloud UK in London advised telcos to partner with colocation business if they are to match the oncoming demand for edge computing.

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Colocation providers have been advised to partner with telecommunications firms in response to the increasing demand for edge computing.

At the Datacloud UK event in London, panelists discussed the rise of edge computing and how it might disrupt the cloud and data centre provisioning industry.

Edge is an emerging type of computing where devices will be powered at the periphery of the network, useful when low latency is a critical factor, for example, in driverless cars which need to react to their surroundings quickly. 

Some in the industry still believe that edge computing is firmly in the hype stage of development, including John Laban, EU representative of the OCP Foundation at the event.

Gartner's hype cycle for emerging technologies in 2017 positioned Edge computing at the peak of inflated expectations, citing roughly two to five years to mainstream adoption. 

"I understand that every technology has a hype where you think it will blow. I'm also very enthusiastic about new technologies but the edge and the cloud are not alternatives, they are an accessory compliment," said Emiliano Cevenini, VP power sales and business development EMEA at data centre and networks business Vertiv.

See also: What is edge computing?

Still, some colocation providers - where parts of a data centre are rented out - are offering more edge computing services by creating micro data centres and from a connectivity perspective, more fibre customers are adopting edge capabilities based on the growing demand to move things away from on-premise. Naturally, edge will require a great deal of reliable connectivity to function properly.

Will edge take over cloud?

"You cannot pretend to move a huge amount of data to a cloud data centre and give instructions back in real time. Cloud is still absolutely an enabling technology but we also need to have the edge infrastructure," said Cevenini.

"I think that edge will drive more cloud, because edge and cloud will do different things. Edge will be closer to the real-time world so cloud will take care of processing the amount of data mining, leaks and finding the trends," he said.

In response to the growth of mobile connectivity and connected devices, Cevenini explained that edge very much acts as an accessory to cloud, rather than a replacement of the infrastructure.

"Edge is adding value in taking care of real-time, reactive IT infrastructure or collecting and pre-processing the data and getting instructions from the models on how to adapt the algorithms locally.

"Without the edge, IoT will not happen in my opinion. That’s why we are so keen on looking at both. We are working, as usual, with hyperscale data centres and colocation providers to help them enable infrastructure to support the cloud," he added.

Telcos to take charge of edge

The panel then discussed the possibility of telcos having the lead on taking control of edge data centres, and in doing so edge infrastructure. Telcos are aiming to tap into edge computing by "cloudifying their infrastructure," Laban said.

But because telcos don't quite have the skills to deliver on the data centre front, there is an opportunity for them to collaborate with colocation providers.

"We really think that the next step will be the edge because one thing is, for the same reason you cannot move data centre operations from one side to the other in no time and cost, with big data and IoT when you start collecting huge amounts of data you have to run predictive algorithms and models close to the application," Cevenini said.

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