NTT and VMware’s Partnership Demonstrates Need for Partnership in Edge Services Delivery

J. Marcus

Summary Bullets:

• NTT and VMware integrated their respective private network and edge compute offerings – both were originally launched in 2021 – to offer the new Edge-as-a-Service.

• The partners will go to market jointly and coordinate sales, marketing, and customer co-innovations, with NTT delivering the managed service across its global footprint.

NTT Ltd. and VMware launched Edge-as-a-Service, a fully managed edge compute platform that runs on the Intel network and edge infrastructure and is complemented by NTT’s existing private LTE/5G offering based on technology from Celona. NTT is using VMware’s Edge Compute Stack, an integrated virtual machine (VM) and container-based stack to help organizations modernize and secure edge-native apps close to end users, while VMware – despite already offering a private cellular connectivity platform built on components from Druid Software and ASOCS – is now adopting NTT’s Private 5G as part of its edge solution.

Edge-as-a-Service is an integrated solution designed to enable business process automation through near-zero latency for enterprise applications at the network edge, optimizing costs and boosting end-user experiences in a secure environment. NTT and VMware will jointly market the offering as an edge-plus-private 5G managed service through coordinated co-innovation, sales, and business development with delivery by NTT across its global footprint. Edge-as-a-Service is part of NTT’s Managed Services portfolio, which also includes Network-as-a-Service and Multi-Cloud-as-a-Service. While the initial combined solution does not include specific named applications or use cases, GlobalData fully expects that NTT intends to follow up with solutions that are compelling to a range of industrial verticals.

NTT needed an edge solution to integrate with its Private 5G offering to be relevant to the kinds of companies actually needing private network connectivity: those with an advanced automation use case already in mind that need edge compute in order to deliver the required latency for real-time data processing. Celona, unlike private 5G-leading vendors Nokia and Ericsson, lacks its own integrated edge compute module. For its part, VMware needs service provider partners to help market and operate managed services based on its Edge Compute Stack. The partnership does not appear to be exclusive.

NTT Ltd. incorporates the former NTT Communications (global network and data center business) and Dimension Data (IT and managed services business) subsidiaries of Japan incumbent telco NTT Inc., and it will very soon also incorporate the international IT services business NTT Data. In 2021, NTT Ltd. launched its private LTE/5G platform (P5G) with availability in over 20 countries, leveraging its public and partner-owned spectrum and enabling a consistent service around the world with the help of NTT’s Transatel MVNO business for public and private LTE/5G roaming. P5G is offered as a subscription service based on coverage, with SLAs per application or location.

By integrating VMware’s edge platform to offer edge compute-as-a-service, NTT will be able to compete strongly against global system integrators and network-owning service providers that are going to market with connectivity-only based offerings. By offering an OpEx-based service based on a subscription, NTT is making what to date may have been seen as an industrial-grade solution affordable and convenient for CIOs in medium-to-large enterprises looking to automate operations. The Celona networking platform that NTT offers for integrated connectivity is compatible with dozens of certified devices, while the VMware edge compute platform – which combines flexible Intel infrastructure, AIOps, and seamless integrations across multiple clouds – has been successfully deployed in manufacturing, retail, and public safety environments.

Other service providers – both telcos and edge infrastructure providers – can match NTT and VMware’s joint offering with existing partnerships between them and key vendors and cloud platforms. There is also nothing stopping them from pre-integrating and supporting VMware Edge Compute Stack with their private 5G offerings. But potential competitors should note that both NTT and VMware felt the need for a complementary partner to help take their respective value propositions to market, revealing the necessity for ecosystem partnerships in end-to-end 5G/edge implementations. At least one potential partner should also be in the business of managed services in order to offer convenient and affordable access to these solutions with an experienced provider responsible for ongoing service performance.

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