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Businesses are rapidly adopting consumer-centric behaviors and tendencies, especially as it relates to consumption and expectations of technology.

Decision makers across all industries demand technology work for them immediately to solve complex challenges. They expect new services to be delivered on that technology as frequently as new features or apps are pushed to their mobile phones.

Consider this: Google, Amazon and Microsoft combined brought to market nearly 400 unique services in 2019 alone. This is the competitive landscape service providers find themselves in today. They must move very quickly to meet the fluid needs of enterprise end customers if they are going to survive in the 5G economy. 

Service providers can remedy this situation by harnessing the power of mobile edge computing and deploying solutions via the edge to serve customers quickly, efficiently and at scale.

Edge computing can mean different things to different groups. From our perspective, edge computing is providing cloud-like services (on demand, pay-as-you-go) as close to the user or device from within a mobile operator's network as possible. 

What is mobile edge computing?
Key benefits of mobile edge computing.

From a business perspective, edge computing will drive new applications that require the low latency and higher bandwidth promised by 5G and create new sources of revenue for service providers. Put more bluntly, the edge will act as a key component of service providers' 5G monetization strategy.

As with anything that holds great potential, it's not easy. Edge computing is not just technology, but an emerging ecosystem of use cases, applications and resources that help businesses participate in the next generation of digital transformation.

For many businesses, edge computing is uncharted territory. They don't know where to start, or, in many cases, how to leverage it. Further complicating matters is the fragmented ecosystem of hardware and software providers needed to assemble an edge solution, which must be designed and tailored on an industry-by-industry basis. 

This is a massive opportunity for service providers.

edge drivers
Service providers must consider generic and operator-specific drivers for edge computing.

Start with the end in mind

Service providers face the significant challenge of monetizing their infrastructure investments by exploiting opportunities that have not yet fully revealed themselves and are surfacing within a business and technology landscape that is evolving rapidly. 

Before service providers can tap into the new value being created at the edge, they must identify and understand vertical use cases and related applications most likely to gain market traction.

WWT, which works with 70 of the top Fortune 100 companies across a range of commercial sectors, can offer service providers a first-hand view of emerging vertical use cases.

Vertical focus areas.
Service providers must focus their edge computing strategies to specific industries. WWT is focused on five key verticals.

This infrastructure is necessary, but simply a cost to service providers. The true value — where service providers will make money — lies in the applications that run on top of this infrastructure.

5 Steps to 5G Success Next-Gen Services at the Edge

Not one-size-fits-all

Integrated edge solutions should not be treated as a Swiss Army Knife that can easily support a broad range of uses cases. Unique combinations of hardware and software need to be aligned with specific use cases to optimize performance. 

Operators can draw upon the knowledge we have acquired providing industry-leading solutions that have helped customers of all shapes and sizes deliver business outcomes and combat digital disruption. Our experiences includes supporting nearly every sector of the economy and helping customers grow revenue, accelerate time to market, rapidly innovate, control costs and mitigate risks. 

Specifically, we're focused on delivering solutions in the healthcare, manufacturing, utilities, retail and entertainment industries.

Let's dive a bit deeper.

Liberating the industrial engineer with QiO

Current solution offerings don't allow industrial engineers and designers to utilize interoperability and scalability across applications, platforms, sensor networks and manufacturing sites, which silos their operations, adding time and crucial limitations.

Industrial engineers demand proven, repeatable, secure compute and communications infrastructure with Software-as-a-Service enabled AI that can handle complex heterogeneous systems of industrial scale.

Ready, set, edge

Edge computing offers obvious technical benefits, such as faster data processing, lower costs for data management and increased application efficiency. And, of course, it allows for faster monetization of 5G investments.

But how do we get there? Many network architectures utilized today are not equipped to support the bandwidth demand of tomorrow. Networks must be densified. Workloads need to be pushed closer to end users. More cost-efficient approaches to infrastructure will be key to delivering at scale.

Two solutions specifically are pertinent when building a more flexible network that can leverage edge compute to deliver services to customers.

Virtualized Broadband Network Gateway (vBNG): One of the technologies we believe will be vital to service providers' ability to roll out 5G networks at scale is the vBNG, which we've developed in partnership with Intel as part of its Intel Select Solutions portfolio. 

Today's vBNG technology is a logical first step for modernizing network architectures to next-generation capabilities to help service providers truly leverage edge computing more quickly and cost-effectively, enabling them to realize greater revenue.

Next-Generation Central Office (NGCO): Next-generation central offices serve as an edge cloud data center capable of supporting the expected rush of traffic brought to the network thanks to broader adoption of 5G connectivity and the Internet of Things (IoT). And they provide scalable, flexible and agile architectures that help service providers deploy new services while saving costs and protecting infrastructure investments.

To this end, we developed our own Next-Generation Central Office (NGCO) solution in partnership with Intel, Quanta Cloud Technology (QCT), Red Hat, Cumulus, Cloudify and Fortinet. NGCO is a pre-integrated and validated set of hardware and software, tuned and optimized for SDN, NFV, 5G and other edge compute applications.

A third solution takes this one step further. 

Service providers can utilize private LTE to provide fast, efficient and secure networks that are optimized for local services, such as QiO.

Role of the integrator

Given its role in the 5G delivery ecosystem edge solutions need to be vertically focused and strategically deployed. They also must be deployed strategically and at scale.

For service providers, it's critical they have confidence the solutions they deploy will work as intended once deployed in the field. Operators need an experienced integrator that can oversee multi-vendor solutions, validate and ensure design requirements are met, rollout the solution quickly at scale, optimize the solution on an ongoing basis and provide technical support between various vendors.

Combining capabilities that span service providers' entire network architecture with our deep experience serving enterprise customers, we can help organizations develop and execute on 5G strategies to maximize their return on investment in technology.

See how WWT is fundamentally transforming the service provider industry. Video