5G potential drives IBM’s edge strategy

Ray Le Maistre
By Ray Le Maistre

May 6, 2020

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna at Think Digital conference (courtesy of IBM)

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna at Think Digital conference (courtesy of IBM)

  • IBM unveils range of edge computing applications, citing ‘5G era’ as a catalyst
  • Red Hat’s OpenShift Kubernetes platform underpins those apps
  • Launches Telco Network Cloud Ecosystem with key partners 

In a move that hammers home its intention to be a leading actor in the nascent telco edge computing market, IBM has unveiled a series of new software solutions and applications designed to help CSPs and enterprises develop and execute their edge computing strategies, citing the “5G era” as a major driver for its plans.

IBM is basing its new edge portfolio, announced during IBM’s Think Digital conference and highlighted by new CEO Arvind Krishna during his opening keynote speech, on Red Hat’s OpenShift Kubernetes platform that can be used in distributed architectures as well as centralized data centers. The new offerings include:

IBM Edge Application Manager – a tool for the remote management of AI, analytics and IoT workloads at up to 10,000 edge nodes. This is the result of work that IBM has contributed to the Open Horizon project announced last week by LF Networking. 

IBM Telco Network Cloud Manager – a tool to orchestrate virtual and container network functions. It allows CSPs to Service providers to “manage workloads on both Red Hat OpenShift and Red Hat OpenStack Platform,” notes IBM.

Applications and services portfolio – a portfolio that includes IBM Visual Insights,  IBM Asset Optimization and IBM Visual Inspector and more. These give users the “flexibility to deploy AI and cognitive applications and services at scale,” says IBM. 

Services teams – In addition, the company has created “dedicated” services teams for edge computing and telco network cloud.

"IBM is helping clients unlock the full potential of edge computing and 5G with hybrid multicloud offerings that bring together Red Hat OpenShift and our industry expertise to address enterprise needs in a way no other company can,” noted Denis Kennelly, general manager, IBM Hybrid Cloud, in the company’s official announcement.

The tech giant also launched its Telco Network Cloud Ecosystem, a partnership program designed to help network operators “deploy their network cloud platforms.” Inaugural members of that new gang include ADVA, open RAN specialist Altiostar, security expert F5 networks, Juniper Networks and Metaswitch. 

That’s a strong line-up of tried and tested developers known for cutting edge software and the underlying hardware platforms needed for edge computing and networking deployments.  

It has also formed an Edge Ecosystem for enterprise customers that includes the likes of Cisco, Dell Technologies, Intel, Equinix (Packet), Juniper, NVIDIA and Samsung, amongst many others.  

IBM isn’t new to edge computing developments in the telco world, of course: It is already working closely with the likes of Vodafone Business and Singapore’s M1 on their developments. 

The announcements confirm the importance of Red Hat to IBM’s current strategic focus and its efforts to become a crucial partner to telcos as they build out their telco cloud platforms, which will be vital to take full advantage of 5G’s full capabilities and also provide the scale and flexibility needed in an increasingly cloud-oriented networking and services market.  

Such capabilities should be front and center in CSPs’ minds as they figure out a way to fully tap the potential of the 5G enterprise services market, where they have got off to an inauspicious start, according to a new research report issued this week.

Red Hat was the star turn when IBM announced its first quarter financials last month.

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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