"We're the largest provider of edge computing services by far," proclaimed Tom Leighton, Akamai's CEO, during his company's recent quarterly conference call. "We have been doing it for close to 20 years. And the idea that this is how somehow something new is just not true."
According to a Seeking Alpha transcript of his comments, Leighton said Akamai's "Intelligent Edge Platform" now covers 300,000 servers in over 4,000 locations, with roughly 1,500 network partners. "The edge is where connected devices and the Internet of things are located where 5G networks will become pervasive," he explained.
And what does that all mean in terms of the bottom line? Leighton explained that Akamai doesn't break out edge computing as a separate revenue item. But he said that if the company did, using the definition of edge computing that many Wall Street analysts use, he said it would represent $2 billion business for Akamai.
Leighton also offered a full-throated challenge to Akamai's competitors: "A lot of the other CDNs [content delivery networks], who talk about doing edge or edge computing, maybe they're in a couple of dozen cloud core data centers, which is really not the edge," he said. "In fact, you could take probably about maybe even all of our CDN competitors, put them together, and they don't get anywhere close to the edge presence that Akamai has."
Concluded Leighton: "And what's the future of edge computing, I think it's very large, you look at 5G coming and that's going to utilize a lot of capabilities at the edge. With 5G, you get a lot more devices connected. IoT becomes much more possible. You have much lower latencies in the last mile."
Others agree. "The next wave of computing is coming to the edge," wrote the Wall Street analysts at research firm Cowen in a recent note to investors. "Just as the cloud moved processing, networking, storage, memory and software into centralized locations, edge computing will bring these resources back closer to the devices consuming them. Enabled by an increasingly holistic approach to technology, edge computing has wide-ranging implications across both hardware and software."
The analysts predicted the market for edge computing could eventually rival the size of the public cloud computing market over the next decade.
Thus, it's likely no surprise that a wide range of companies have been working to break into the edge market, whether it's Ericsson with its now-shuttered Edge Gravity effort or AT&T and Verizon with their Microsoft and Amazon Web Services partnerships, respectively.
The latest entrants into the edge computing scene are tower companies SBA Communications and American Tower. In just the past few months both companies have firmed up their edge computing strategies.
As noted by Data Center Frontier, SBA Communications recently created the SBA Edge brand for its edge computing buildout strategy, which centers on the Chicago data center it acquired last year. And more recently, American Tower unveiled its American Tower Edge service that sports edge computing data modules at the base of cell towers in six cities: Atlanta, Jacksonville, Denver, Boulder, Austin and Pittsburgh.
"Now is the optimal time to invest and pave the way for enabling the next generation network and computing architectures," said Whitney Pesot, product manager for US innovation at American Tower, in a release.