Telstra’s Edge Platform Is Set to Lead the Way in the Australian Edge Market, but May Have Company Soon

Summary Bullets:

M. Rogers

• Telstra is looking to build a commanding lead in the enterprise edge platform solutions marker in Australia, announcing the roadmap for its platform and early use cases.

• While Telstra’s offering is comprehensive and unique in the market, like cloud, edge will have room for all kinds of players and Telstra will see more competition as the market matures.

Telstra recently updated the market with its roadmap for its new “Telstra Edge Compute” platform that launched its first solution. Telstra Edge Compute is comprised of various existing Telstra products as well as new ones developed through partnerships made over the past several years. Essentially the company is stitching together the results of the last few years of product development (Telstra Adaptive Networks, Telstra Adaptive Cloud, and Telstra Adaptive Edge) and partnerships (Ericsson/Cradlepoint, Microsoft Azure, and AWS) to provide an all-in-one “edge” solution to the market. In this case, “all-in-one” includes network and connectivity (Telstra 5G, NBN, or third party), SD-WAN, security (next generation firewalls, secure cloud gateways, endpoint security, secure network architecture, and monitoring), storage and compute infrastructure from Telstra, AWS Outposts or Microsoft Azure Stack, and Telstra IoT capabilities wrapped in professional services and service management led by Telstra’s consulting arm Telstra Purple.

Telstra’s edge is an extension of existing customer cloud and data center environments. As such, the Telstra Purple professional services component will be key. Like the cloud migration journeys many enterprises have undergone over the past several years, Telstra envisions a similar edge migration journey. Customers will undergo application, infrastructure, and security architecture discovery with Telstra guiding customers towards a mix of on-premises, edge and cloud deployments, and connectivity types based on application performance requirements.

However, Telstra not only wants to provide a platform but hopes to be involved at the application/solution level as well. As part of its briefing to the market, the company identified three key solutions it hopes to productize in FY2022 off the back of the Telstra Edge platform. The first, Branch Offload, which was announced earlier in the month involves moving functions that typically sit on a branch server to a deployment of Azure Stack deployment at a Telstra edge location. The branches then can connect to apps and infrastructure via a low latency link through flexible connectivity options including fixed and 5G with options for secondary links to be used for failover or bursting, with performance managed by SD-WAN. Telstra also will offer an Azure Stack Edge gateway that can offload some data from the edge location to the public cloud. The second is Video Analytics, where Telstra intends to integrate its existing assets and IP in video and analytics along with an AI software vendor which focuses on computer vision for “recognition as a service.” With this service Telstra will provide edge compute for retailers or logistics companies to run AI models on live video feeds, while off-loading meta data to the cloud, improving latency for the video application, and saving on transport costs for the data feeds. The final use case Telstra hopes to roll out before end of FY2022 is Telstra IoT Edge, where Telstra will take its existing horizontal IoT solutions as well as vertical ones like fleet management and run them from an Azure IoT edge instance, with a gateway back to the wider Azure IoT cloud. While all three use cases rely on partners, the video and IoT ones will require Telstra to develop deeper relationships with ISV and SI partners that specialize in providing video and IoT solutions to verticals and can readily develop iterations that can be integrated and deployed on Telstra’s edge.

While Telstra may be uniquely positioned in the Australia market to provide this kind of edge platform, encompassing edge compute and storage, 5G connectivity with SD-WAN integration, comprehensive security features and a professional and managed services wrap, not every company may need the comprehensive platform. Telstra has stated it does not plan to launch edge locations without significant buy-in from potential customers, and while a high price tag could be justified based on the breadth of capabilities offered, not every edge deployment will be complex and not every company will be willing to invest heavily in emerging technology. There are other cloud services providers offering managed Azure Stack in the market. Avanade for example also offers analytics, AI, and security services, and while it may not provide the network and SD-WAN integration of Telstra, for some companies, it will be enough. Further companies like Lumen are offering bare metal and VMWare edge services in Australia, leveraging their data center and networking partners to provide low latency connections to compute environments for enterprises willing to do DIY deployments. Like cloud, edge will have room for all types of players and deployments. Telstra certainly looks to be an early leader in the Australia market, but likely will be facing more competition before too long.

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