Edge Computing’s New Ecosystem Will Mature, Expand, and Diversify in 2020

C. Drake

Summary Bullets:

  • Edge computing solutions will become more diverse and sophisticated in 2020, giving enterprise buyers greater choice but also complicating procurement decisions.
  • Hyperscale clouds will deepen their engagement with emerging edge computing ecosystems in 2020, expanding relationships with existing partners and forging new ones.

Edge computing commanded increased attention in 2019, amid growing recognition that IT architectures need to evolve in order to support new low-latency, data-rich digital services and applications. Edge computing involves the use of computer processing, data storage, and analytics capabilities close to the places where data is collected and where digital content and applications are consumed. Benefits include the higher performance that can be achieved when powering applications closer to points of consumption. They also include being able to make faster decisions about data collected from Internet-connected sensors on factory floors and transportation networks and in retail outlets and other locations.

Although several large enterprises are already using edge computing to support a range of digital initiatives, most are still trying to figure out their approach to edge computing, as well as its potential benefits for their business. However, in 2020, more enterprises will develop a plan to use edge computing technologies as part of their own digital transformation journey. In each case, edge computing will be used to supplement, rather than replace, traditional core data centers and the use of cloud services from companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google.

The edge computing ecosystem that emerged in 2019 – and which involved IT infrastructure vendors, telecoms network operators, and cloud service providers – will show growing maturity and expansion in 2020, thanks to increased innovation and new and evolving partnerships. In 2020, competition between IT infrastructure vendors such as Dell, HPE, Cisco, and Lenovo will become more intense as providers broaden their edge computing solution portfolios and add to the capabilities of those solutions. Vendors will pursue an increasingly differentiated approach to providing edge computing capabilities, offering solutions based on diverse technology platforms and optimized for specific edge use cases and deployment scenarios.

Hyperscale cloud providers are also set to play a bigger role in emerging edge computing ecosystems in 2020, deepening their relationship with existing partners, while also forging and developing new partnerships – especially with telecoms network operators. As 5G network deployment gathers pace, this is encouraging new forms of cooperation between hyperscale clouds such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google and leading telcos like AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone, TIM, KDDI, and SK Telecom. In 2020, expect more alliances and more use cases that take advantage of the ability to combine edge technologies and 5G network architectures in ways that enable the development and delivery of new digital applications. Examples of those applications include autonomous vehicles, robotics/real-time monitoring, and AR and VR-facilitated training and maintenance.

2020 will also bring more examples of edge computing being used to support IoT innovations, including utilities infrastructure monitoring, public transport ticketing, and fleet management. IoT innovations also have implications for enterprise networking, and 2020 will therefore see new efforts to integrate enterprise networking solutions with specialized edge computing platforms, especially among vendors that sell both networking gear and edge computing gear such as HPE, Cisco, and Dell.

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