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Clearing the fog around the network edge

by Martha DeGrasse 6/28/18

Service providers are well aware of the need to move computing power to the network edge in order to support internet of things applications. And there are plenty of vendors ready to support them in their journey. But not all vendors describe the same technology in the same way. Customer confusion about which technology does what can be a roadblock for vendors -- or it can be an opportunity.


Opportunity is what serial entrepreneurs Matthew Trifiro and Jacob Smith see when they look at the confusion surrounding the edge of the network, specifically the edge of the so-called last mile network. Trifiro is currently CMO at Vapor IO, one of a handful of companies that builds mini-data centers at the base of cell towers. Smith is co-founder of Packet, Vapor IO's partner for bare metal servers. Together Vapor IO and Packet want to be known as the companies that wrote the book on edge computing.


The book is called The State of the Edge: A Market and Ecosystem Report for Edge Computing. Vapor IO and Packet partnered with Ericsson UDN, Arm and Rafay Systems, as well as analysts from Structure Research and Edge Research Group to produce the report. The most salient part may be the glossary, which is being contributed to the Linux Foundation and adopted by the Telecommunications Industry Association.

"The glossary is where we started, but it's now its own project," said Trifiro. He noted that some of the most fundamental concepts surrounding the edge are often confused with one another, including mobile edge computing, multi-access edge computing and fog computing. He said the fog is architecture and infrastructure stretching from the cloud to the device and the network edge is part of the fog.

Trifiro, Smith and their partners are well aware that not everyone will be ready to accept their definitions or framework, and they have positioned their report as a living document that will continue to evolve. Their offering is less about dictating definitions than it is about bringing companies together into a common conversation.

"Although there is no single edge, nor a single type of edge computing, we all benefit greatly from a shared understanding and a strong dialogue," said former Equinix CTO Ihad Tarazi in a blog post introducing the report. "In this regard, the inaugural State of the Edge report (with its diverse group of supporters and authors) is built on a compelling premise: that collaboration and openness can greatly accelerate even the most complex ecosystems."



The inaugural State of the Edge report chronicles the emergence of edge computing and documents the impact on developers, technology providers, telecom operators, ISPs, and end users, among others. The report assesses the state of edge computing today, illustrates practical architectures for its deployment, and provides guidance on where this innovative collection of technologies is heading in the near future. The report also endeavors to explain the role edge computing plays in the future of cloud computing, casting it in the context of complementary approaches such as fog computing and public cloud.

Download the overview: Executive Summary, Table of Contents and Glossary.

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