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Leading Lights 2019 Finalists: Most Innovative Edge Computing Strategy

Mike Dano
4/22/2019

Edge computing spans the hottest areas of tech right now, including cloud computing, data centers, 5G and telecom. More than that, edge computing promises to dramatically reshape the entire underlying architecture of the Internet, from massive, centralized data centers to a distributed storage and computing model that spread the functions of the Internet out across the network. In fact, the most aggressive implementation of edge computing would position Internet functionality far beyond the backbone of the Internet and almost all the way to actual users themselves.

While this kind of major transition would likely take years and years -- not to mention billions and billions of dollars -- we're already on our way. And our Light Reading finalists for the annual Leading Lights award for Most Innovative Edge Computing Strategy are helping to lead the charge:

The Leading Lights Award winners, as well as this year's inductees to the Light Reading Hall of Fame, will be announced at the Leading Lights dinner and party at the Pinnacle Club in Denver, Monday, May 6, following a day of workshops preceding our Big 5G Event. The Big 5G event opens on Tuesday, May 7. For more info, and for tickets, please visit the Leading Lights Awards 2019 page.

Let's talk about these shortlisted companies:

Alef Edge – Edge Internet Services
Founded in 2013, AlefEdge is headquartered in New York City and promises an architecture that allows 5G-style applications to work over 4G. Moreover, the company is touching all the hot-button issues in edge computing, from virtual and augmented reality to AI to smart cities to the IoT and gaming.

More importantly, in its relatively short corporate history AlefEdge can boast of some significant traction. Via the company's live deployments, it has served more than 11 million users and 3 billion edge sessions.

For example, when its technology was applied to one digital advertising service, the company said its platform increased the clicks per campaign from roughly 100,000 to 9.3 million clicks, AlefEdge says.

AT&T – AT&T Edge Computing Strategy
AT&T has already helped develop a platform for edge computing called Akraino, that was rolled up into the Linux Foundation, and now AT&T is working on actual commercial Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC) deployments in a 5G setting.

Specifically, AT&T's 5G-powered MEC design is running in the AT&T Stadium in Texas and is deployed in the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. The setup essentially runs 5G data through an AT&T MEC into the customer's cloud or into their private environment, thus helping to increase security.

Further, AT&T is now testing network edge compute (NEC) capabilities working over its 5G network with Microsoft Azure and Vorpal. The companies are working on technology to optimize performance of the Vorpal VigilAir drone detection and geolocation tracking solution via edge computing.

That's just one of the many edge computing tests running at the AT&T Foundry.

Edgeworx – Edgeworx ioFog
Edgeworx emerged late last year out of stealth mode with its open-source, blockchain-inspired ioFog platform. By using a digital ledger, the Edgeworx system can create a secure distributed network by constantly validating a set of security rules with all the nodes in the system. When a rogue node is found, it can then be automatically quarantined and potentially wiped of all software and data.

Add that to an open source strategy that can potentially tap into a massive developer community, and it's no wonder why Edgeworx is seeing traction in telecommunications, oil and gas and government/security, the company says.

MobiledgeX – MobiledgeX R 1.0
MobiledgeX is the company that sits at perhaps the clearest intersection of 5G and edge computing. The company is the wholly owned, Silicon Valley-based subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom and is working to drive that European giant's edge computing strategy.

Already MobiledgeX said its Edge-Cloud R1.0 software is now generally available and has been deployed in the Telekom Deutschland network in Germany, giving developers the chance to trial their applications -- particularly augmented reality, mixed reality and simultaneous localization and mapping -- at the edge of Deutsche Telekom's domestic network.

Further, Deutsche Telekom, MobiledgeX, AR gaming specialist Niantic and Samsung recently showed off Niantic's "Codename: Neon" game, which is made possible by the low-latency connectivity that comes from deploying the edge startup's system, according to Deutsche Telekom.

MobiledgeX counts six locations enabled in Germany with DT and MobiledgeX edge computing software, a figure that will double this year, MobiledgeX said.

Qwilt – Content Delivery Sharing
Qwilt for years has been working to cache video closer to users, a relatively widespread practice that's a precursor to the edge computing trend. Importantly, Verizon inked an agreement with Qwilt in 2017 to deploy the vendor's "open caching" into its network for video delivery. The move allowed Verizon to store video content in physical locations that are closer to end users, thus eliminating the amount of traffic traveling over the operator's network. Verizon subsequently reported a 20% reduction in traffic traveling over its network.

Now Qwilt is working on a new and unique pitch specifically for edge computing. The company said its Content Delivery Sharing (CDS) model essentially eliminates a commercial CDN from the value chain by incentivizing ISPs to deploy and operate core delivery infrastructure, and utilizes edge computing as a strategic platform for content delivery and other edge cloud functions.

Qwilt explained that its model is like Uber in that it supplies only the technology and allows collaboration between content publishers and service providers. The company said its technology matches requests for content delivery "riders" with ISP network-based caches ready to deliver "drivers."

"With CDS, the publishers do not depend on a single monolithic content delivery network with its architectural and resource limitations. Instead, CDS harnesses the network of ISPs with their collective and vastly superior financial and operational resources to handle the job at scale," the company said.

SK Telecom – MEC Tech. & Open Platform Strategy
South Korea's SK Telecom is touting a new mobile edge computing platform that it said can reduce latency on mobile networks by up to 60%. Specifically, the operator said it is using "small-scale data centers" installed at base stations and in its router locations in order to position end users closer to computing services. The result is faster computing times than users could get through traditional, centralized data center facilities.

The company said that Korean auto parts maker Myunghwa Industry has already adopted this framework, and is now seeing around 30% cost reduction thanks to increased work efficiency (via low latency and high throughput) and decreased data backbone cost (by processing data locally at its own site).

Vapor IO – Kinetic Edge Alliance
Vapor IO, a startup founded in 2015 with backing in part from tower giant Crown Castle, is one of a significant and growing number of companies that wants to build mini edge computing data centers in cities and towns across the United States. And it's already well on its way to doing that: Vapor IO already launched two of its micro data centres in Chicago in 2018 and expects to grow that number to six cities in 2019.

But that's not the important thing. Earlier this year Vapor IO launched what it calls the "Kinetic Edge Alliance (KEA)," which includes players like Federated Wireless, Linode, MobiledgeX, Packet and StackPath and technical partners Alef Mobitech, Detecon International, Hitachi Vantara, New Continuum Data Centers, Pluribus Networks and Seagate Technology. The alliance essentially brings together the hardware and tech suppliers necessary for edge computing, whether that's for compute, storage or access and interconnection at the edge of the cellular network.

The partners in the alliance have pledged to support Vapor IO's buildout, which the company said will eventually reach the top 30 US metro markets covering over 50% of the US population.

— Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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