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Delivering on the 5G Vision Will Take a Village

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After spending the past 25 years bringing emerging networking and cloud infrastructure technologies to market, I have seen enough to know that operating in a silo can be the death of innovation. As any data center manager can tell you, data center complexity, stability issues, and high total cost of ownership (TCO) became their constant companion and worst nightmare. With 5G on the horizon, how can we do a better job when it comes to managing existing infrastructure while also promoting innovation at the edge?

As service providers and enterprises rethink what ‘the edge’ means for their infrastructure, it is clear that it will take a village to deliver optimized applications over optimized networks. We also see that the forces of cloud-native containerization are gaining momentum, liberating computing workloads and enabling them to move closer to the end-user where network latency is lower. However, there are still hurdles to overcome.

How do we consolidate the previous platforms, collapse various silos of IT and networks, DevOps and NetOps, without forcing ourselves into new silos? Both end customers and their service providers are in uncharted territory. Here are some points to consider:

The 5G Edge Market Drivers

Gartner predicts, compared to only 10% of the enterprise data created and processed outside of traditional data centers today, a whopping 75% of that will move to the edge by 2025. How is that for proof that data is not centralized anymore? Network functions are shifting from hardware appliances, or their virtualized software versions to containerized software. The control plane and the user plane functions are being decoupled for more scalability and agility.

Billions of devices will connect through 5G which is indeed fueling growth. However, the current access methodologies will persist for the foreseeable future, so the edge will need to consolidate and optimize both mobile and fixed access networks.  

According to a recent report from Chetan Sharma Consulting, the Edge Internet Economy represents a $4 trillion dollar opportunity and applications and services represent the largest growth areas driving the requirement for the new edge.

New Applications, Means New Demands

Emerging applications such as augmented reality, virtual reality, interactive gaming, industrial controls, and connected cars require low latency, cost-point and the ability to work at a scale. This cannot be delivered by existing edge infrastructure connected to a centralized data center or Public Cloud. Many new applications require an end-to-end latency below ten milliseconds. Unfortunately, typical public clouds are unable to deliver such a requirement.

To sustain a suite of latency-sensitive applications requires processing closer to the actual devices, thus creating a new market for distributed edge data centers.

An edge data center must also simultaneously deliver numerous cloud-native applications such as content delivery networks (CDN), video streaming, local news, and ad insertions, IoT frameworks and basic networking services such as stateful firewall, load balancer, DDoS mitigation, mobile and fixed packet core services, 4G and 5G UPF data plane nodes, etc.

One way for service providers to deploy edge data centers is to convert existing central offices (CO) into an edge data center. However, the COs have space, power and cooling constraints, among other challenges, that are limited by the amount available in that facility. Without new and innovative solutions, it is nearly impossible to provide all the needed applications within the associated constraints.


Building the New Edge Now

In collaboration with Red Hat, Intel and other partners, Kaloom is delivering innovative disruption both technically and economically through its container-based Unified Edge solution.  

In a typical rack configuration, nine of the 18 servers are running basic network and application infrastructure services including support for 5G UPF.      

The Unified Edge (as seen on the right side of the image above), consolidates the network fabric controller, and application controller function and offloads them to P4-programmable Intel Tofino-based white box networking switches.

The open source P4 programming language allows for the dynamic and unknown requirements of the edge, including emerging protocols and open-developer type platforms for various applications and scale that delivers future-proof flexibility and investment protection required for the 5G and edge.

Offloading and consolidating infrastructure software to the switches leaves significant architectural headroom for increased growth, throughput and new applications. The Tbps data plane solution delivers sub-microsecond latency and can scale to millions of subscribers.  

The result, within the same rack space and the same power constraints, the Unified Edge frees up nine additional servers for monetization.

How the Industry Benefits

The industry will benefit from the fact that networking has finally caught up with its server, storage, and application counterparts. Where a single execution platform like OpenShift will significantly reduce the complexity of deploying and managing distributed edge data centers.

Working with companies such as Red Hat, white box ODM partners, and open source communities enables all of us to deliver a unified solution for the edge that makes it much easier for end-users and engineers to deploy these turnkey, pre-tested solutions. In summary, Kaloom's Unified Edge reduces the cost of edge infrastructure by a factor of 10x while enabling Communications Service Providers to accelerate time to market new applications and services, further accelerating their ROI.

Building the Village

No one vendor (no matter how large or small) can deliver all the needed components to realize this vision. The edge is not a single place or a location but a living fabric that connects us together. We must treat the solutions we develop for the edge as a partnership. It will take a village and will require the best developers, solution providers, system integrators, services providers and customers working jointly to optimize this tremendous opportunity and achieve the vision. We realize that Kaloom is just a portion of this vast ecosystem. But we are proud to be the critical “networking” piece of the village. Want to be a part of our ecosystem?

We look forward to exchanging ideas on how we can build this extraordinary village together!