Simplifying the Edge Opportunity with Automation

Contributed by Susan White, Head of Strategy and Portfolio Marketing, Netcracker.

Enterprises need edge compute for many reasons – enabling low latency for real-time IoT services, reducing backhaul costs for video processing and keeping sensitive data local – to name a few. It’s becoming a core strategy for many companies in vertical markets to boost productivity, performance and increase customer satisfaction.

However, most enterprises cannot deal with the complexity of putting all the piece parts together and running these mission critical services with strict SLAs. The choice and location of edge cloud platform, connectivity options, security solutions, distributed 5G core and MEC applications presents a hefty project that requires extensive design, testing, validation, deployment and continuous assurance.

Enterprises need simplicity.

This creates an ideal opportunity for CSPs to remove this complexity and at the same time deepen their engagement and value in enterprise and vertical markets. However, no CSP has all the piece parts that are needed to offer enterprise customers a successful edge solution. It’s a multi-partner play that requires a great deal of cooperation and integration across the ecosystem.

This is why automation is essential to build and monetize a successful edge business. Whether it’s part of a private or hybrid 5G network, automation is required at both the operational and business levels.


Unifying and Scaling Edge Operations

Operations automation of the edge domain is essential for three key reasons:

  1. Unification of operational processes within the edge cloud. Today, edge platform automation (on-premise or network-edge) is separated from the service lifecycle of VNFs and CNFs, which in turn is separated from high value MEC applications. This results in high complexity and manual intervention. These processes must be streamlined to commission the entire edge platform, services and even network slices with zero touch.
  2. E2E view across highly distributed edge locations, transport and core. Edge services are highly complex and may have stringent latency and performance requirements. Resources can reside on multiple edge hosts (CSP and hyperscaler) and multiple locations (on-premise, network-edge, regional, core). Edge service deployments extend beyond the edge. An E2E view is essential to automate edge services.
  3. The ability to scale to many customers. Silo private 5G and edge networks make replication and scale impossible. This in turn makes the business case harder to justify. A unified operations environment is needed that can start small and scale to many businesses.

Netcracker has built these capabilities into its Edge Orchestration solution. We are helping CSPs globally, including Etisalat, develop a successful edge business. It goes beyond the intelligent placement and lifecycle management of edge services to also ensure the RAN has the right QoS enabled, connectivity between all edge hosts is ready (CSP or hyperscaler) and the 5G UPF breakout function is enabled for edge hosts. With its modular architecture and multitenancy, CSPs can scale their edge services across public and hybrid 4G/5G deployments.


Giving Enterprises Visibility, Control and the Right Partner Solutions

Enterprises are demanding faster access to their services with the simplicity of selecting, activating and managing their services on-demand from an intuitive portal. This necessities automation at the business layer also. Back end processes such as product catalogue, customer management and revenue management need to be streamlined with the front-end portal to enable automation from customer order to activation.

Serving vertical markets with right edge service will require a dynamic ecosystem of partners to address their specific business needs. The resulting multi-party solution will require a new approach for partner management that automates the myriad of processes from on-boarding partners to cataloguing, product management, pricing, partner management, and settlements.

Netcracker’s Digital Marketplace solution brings all these capabilities together to help CSPs give their customers an easy way to purchase services with complete visibility and control. The integrated Partner Management solution, adopted by T-Mobile US for its wholesale MVNO and IoT business, helps CSPs to build a vibrant partner ecosystem that will be essential to compete in the edge market.

Edge is a complex business – but it has the potential to be a very lucrative one with the right automation in place that brings simplicity and value to enterprise customers.