Enterprises are increasingly distributed — from the digital architecture they rely on to the human workforce that powers their business every day. This has spurred a sea change across every vertical, altering where data is produced, delivered, and consumed.
Additionally, applications are now highly distributed — enabled by technologies like Kubernetes — creating a diverse, multi-cloud environment that’s only growing more complex over time.
From a software perspective, how can communications service providers (CSPs) and enterprises create order out of chaos in this entirely distributed world to meet their goals?
These organizations are leveraging the edge — a distributed digital infrastructure for running workloads that’s positioned near users and devices, supporting their tens or even hundreds of thousands of locations.
Seeking to jettison their monolithic, slowly moving, proprietary infrastructures, CSPs need the edge to modernize their network underlay — which includes their radio area networks (RAN), 5G Core and all the associated fiber, hardware and software that helps deliver connectivity.
And to recover the tens of billions of dollars invested in everything from increasing spectrum to improving their infrastructure, CSPs must deliver and monetize an extensible set of overlay networking and security services to serve their consumer and enterprise customers’ application needs.
Looking at enterprises, they too need the edge to accelerate their digital transformation journeys. By building, running, and managing their edge apps with agility and flexibility — without completely retooling their existing infrastructure — enterprises are delivering immersive digital experiences for their employees and customers.
Unfortunately, these advanced services place high demands on the network. In response, CSPs and enterprises are using a universal multi-cloud edge platform that delivers scale across underlays and overlays, empowering IT teams to disaggregate their networks and thrive in this new distributed landscape.
Exploring the multi-cloud edge
CSPs and enterprises are relying on a multi-cloud edge platform because it gives them the flexibility to leverage different cloud-based technologies and provides access to multiple backend cloud providers.
These organizations use the cutting-edge platform for the near edge, which supports edge-native workloads residing between the datacenter and on-premises customer locations. This helps CSPs modernize their underlay infrastructure by deploying 5G CNFs across their core and disaggregating their radio access networks (RAN). This secure and resilient edge drives a new portfolio of high-performance 5G services for enterprise customers, enabling them to push the innovation envelope of autonomous vehicles, AR/VR, and much more.
The near edge powers reliable connectivity to the far edge — supporting edge-native workloads that sit on customer premises, which are positioned near service points of presence (PoPs). This enables CSPs to monetize by delivering dynamic overlay edge VMware SASE™ services including VMware SD-WAN™, VMware Cloud Web Security™, VMware Secure Access™, and VMware Edge Compute Stack, to their enterprise customers.
Enterprises also rely on the near and far edge to strengthen their infrastructure, streamline operations and build, run, and manage their edge-native applications. And a management plane ties it all together, assisting with the configuration, installation, operation, and maintenance of the entire system.
Ultimately, the multi-cloud edge is all about choice, empowering CSPs and enterprises to control their own destinies, customizing the platform to fit their needs. For example, organizations’ IT teams are choosing different cloud-based technologies on different stacks to run their multi-cloud edge.
And implementing the multi-cloud edge platform doesn’t mean IT teams need to chuck everything out the window and start over from scratch. It’s all about leveraging their existing systems and processes, slowly rolling out the platform, allowing underlay and overlay services to be easily consumed.
AT&T and Michelin: Ushering in SD-WAN at the edge
AT&T leverages the multi-cloud edge to create a seamless, end-to-end solution that connects the near edge and far edge — servicing the needs of their uber-connected, hyper-distributed enterprise customers.
AT&T has modernized its network at the near edge to provide high-speed, highly resilient connectivity, which supports customers at the far edge. There, a software-centric network of PoPs resides close to customer endpoints, providing SASE services such as SD-WAN to enable very differentiated, powerful experiences for their customers across all markets, including Michelin, the world leader in tires.
In 2016, Michelin needed a new network as they shifted from on-premises collaborative apps to software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions.
The move to SaaS doubled Michelin’s bandwidth requirements, creating technical and financial issues as the company only had one bandwidth source. And every 12 or 18 months, Michelin was forced to surge their bandwidth capacity by nearly 100%.
Soon thereafter, their IT team sought to directly control and enhance the quality of service by prioritizing traffic flows across their extended network.
Enter the far edge and SD-WAN.
In early 2018, AT&T integrated cloud-delivered SD-WAN into Michelin’s infrastructure to help solve their bandwidth dilemma and speed deployment of new sites.
Since then, SD-WAN has helped Michelin rapidly roll out over 200 sites globally, serving more than 120,000 users. Additionally, the company has boosted its bandwidth by teaming MPLS and Internet links to reduce costs and optimize performance.
SD-WAN also provides full visibility into Michelin’s network, enabling their IT teams to improve traffic flow and prioritize business apps.
And best of all, their IT team achieved ROI of their SD-WAN in just 16 months.
Even before COVID-19, businesses were becoming extremely distributed. In the pandemic’s wake, this trend exploded, including everything from digital infrastructures to company employees. As a result, forward-thinking organizations are reconsidering their business models and harnessing competitive technological advantages such as the multi-cloud edge. This enables CSPs to modernize their underlay services and monetize their overlay offerings — helping enterprises at the distributed edge to dream bigger, implement transformative capabilities, push innovation boundaries create their highly unique solutions.