Table of Contents
- Market Categories and Deployment Types
- Key Criteria Comparison
- GigaOm Radar
- Vendor Insights
- Analyst’s Take
- About Andrew Green
There’s an excitement in the networking space around bringing workloads, content, and security closer to the edge. We’ve previously described how edge platforms evolved from four backgrounds—content delivery network providers (CDNs), cloud service providers (cloud), communications service providers (telcos), and dedicated edge service providers (edge).
The majority of providers featured in this report are CDNs, but these vendors are transitioning, repositioning themselves away from the “boring” content delivery providers that have been around for decades, to innovative edge platforms. They are now playing in the artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), internet of things (IoT), and real-time processing arenas, mainly as a result of being able to bring compute to the edge. While the programmable CDN languages were a precursor to ephemeral edge computing, what really changed the sentiment in the wider industry was the widespread adoption of cloud services—public cloud services in particular.
Cloud providers essentially laid the groundwork for computing at the edge. By offering both endurant and ephemeral computing to developers as a service, cloud providers had all the knowledge required to expand beyond data centers into lightweight points of presence (PoPs).
Telecommunications players have infiltrated the edge platform space from two fronts. First, they offer cloud-based services such as colocation, private clouds, and other managed IT services. Second, with global networks and extensive partnerships, many telecommunication players have full-blown content delivery networks of their own. This makes telcos powerful contenders in the space with comprehensive end-to-end propositions.
Edge platform vendors provide a multipurpose environment that offers customers cloud-like services with minimal latency. This approach means that vendors have to manage many moving parts, such as compute, storage, web optimization, video streaming, and security, all at a global scale. These elements are brought together via orchestration, integration with development operations (DevOps) tools, real-time configurations, interoperability through application programming interfaces (APIs), and support for continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD) practices.
Offering global coverage, edge platforms enable their customers to move away from virtual private networks (VPNs) to more flexible and intelligent secure access technologies. Managing how large numbers of users access a distributed infrastructure using zero-trust network access (ZTNA) and user entity behavior analytics (UEBA) can better secure not only each user but the wider infrastructure as well. For more information on these topics visit our ZTNA Key Criteria and ZTNA Radar reports, and our UEBA Key Criteria and UEBA Radar reports.
It’s important to distinguish among multiple definitions of what could be called “the edge.” Data from each end device can follow a different path before reaching the nearest point of presence. For example, a desktop may connect to a home router, a tablet to a wireless access point, and a mobile phone to a cell tower. These are the outermost layers of the networks’ edges, and would pose the lowest possible latency. However, in practical terms, most edge platforms’ PoPs will sit “behind” (upstream from) these access points, in the access layers, aggregation networks, or even beyond.
We’ve observed that in the wider technology industry, the term “edge” is used fairly loosely. In previous reports on edge infrastructure, GigaOm defined edge as encompassing the technology stack that sits outside of cloud providers, on-premises data centers, and enterprise offices. Even within this definition of edge there are at least two major layers:
- Device edge: These are the outermost components, including end-user devices and sensors, located in the “last mile” of the network. Look for other GigaOm reports—such as the GigaOm Radar for Mobile Edge—to cover this space.
- Infrastructure edge: This point typically sits in close proximity to the device edge but has characteristics of a traditionally hosted data center. The infrastructure edge represents a sweet spot for many edge applications and is the focus of this report.
How to Read this Report
This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding, consider reviewing the following reports:
Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.
GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.
Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.