Organizations are distributing workloads across multiple clouds while simultaneously extending out to the edge – pushing apps and services closer to where people, data and things connect to the networked digital world. VMworld 2021, VMware, Inc. (NYSE: VMW) outlined how it is helping customers make sense of a more complex, multi-cloud environment and unveiled its vision for how it will help customers navigate the shift to the edge. It also introduced VMware Edge, a product portfolio that will enable organizations to run, manage, and better secure edge-native apps across multiple clouds, anywhere.
“A new type of workload is emerging – edge-native apps – that must run at the edge to perform as intended. AR/VR, connected vehicles, and immersive gaming are becoming mainstream. 5G has made the use of collaborative robots, drone fleets and digital twins a reality,” said Sanjay Uppal, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Service Provider and Edge, VMware. “VMware delivers a trusted foundation – a multi-cloud edge – to help organizations move forward in the new edge reality.”
The Edge Defined
VMware defines the edge as distributed digital infrastructure for running workloads across a multitude of locations, placed close to users and devices producing and consuming data. Where a workload is placed at the edge is key to meeting the requirements of edge-native apps.
An edge-native workload placed anywhere between the cloud and the remote customer location and delivered as a service is called the near edge.
An edge-native workload placed at a remote customer location at the closest proximity to the endpoints is called the far edge.
Edge-native apps require a multi-cloud edge. One that stitches together underlay services running on a service provider network (e.g., private connectivity, carrier 5G, network slicing) with overlay services delivered on top (e.g., SASE) and a compute services abstraction for the edge applications. All orchestrated by a management plane that provides consistent observability, installation, configuration, operations and management across all edge locations.
Introducing VMware Edge
VMware Edge brings together products from across VMware that will enable organizations to run, manage and better secure edge-native apps across multiple clouds at both near edge and far edge locations. VMware Edge solutions are purposefully designed for edge-native apps and their unique performance and latency requirements.
VMware Edge solutions include:
- VMware Edge Compute Stack, unveiled today at VMworld 2021, is a purpose-built, integrated VM and container-based stack that will enable organizations to modernize and secure edge-native apps at the far edge. VMware Edge Compute Stack will be available in Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise editions. VMware also has plans to develop a lightweight version of VMware Edge Compute Stack to provide an extremely thin edge for lightweight apps.
- VMware SASE combines SD-WAN capabilities with cloud-delivered security functions, including cloud web security, Zero Trust network access, and firewalling. These capabilities are delivered as-a-service across both the near and far edge locations from a global network of points of presence (PoPs).
- VMware Telco Cloud Platform has been delivering near edge solutions to the largest communication service providers in the world from their 4G/5G core all the way to the radio access network (RAN). By helping service providers modernize their network underlay, VMware enables them to deliver overlay edge services to their consumer and enterprise customers.
“Many transformational technologies – 5G, SASE and open RAN, among others – are converging at the edge. Now is the time for organizations to establish a digital foundation for their edge infrastructure. With its leadership in multi-cloud and modern apps, VMware is uniquely positioned to deliver a comprehensive set of solutions that help its customers drive business continuity, agility and create competitive differentiation at the edge,” said Dave McCarthy, IDC Research Vice President, Cloud and Edge Infrastructure Services.
Building a Broad Edge Ecosystem
VMware has key partnerships across the broad edge ecosystem to deliver seamlessly integrated solutions to customers. Its broad partner ecosystem spans public cloud providers, service providers, edge-native app developers, network services providers, system integrators, network equipment providers, near-edge hardware manufacturers, and far edge hardware manufacturers.
For example, VMware Edge Compute Stack is integrated with the ruggedized Dell EMC VxRail D Series that is optimized for edge deployments. As the only HCI system co-engineered with VMware, Dell EMC VxRail provides an efficient and agile IT infrastructure that enables automated operations capable of stretching from data centers to cloud and edge environments.
“The edge is rapidly becoming a more significant part of enterprise IT and is essential to customers’ data-driven transformations. The key to edge success is extending trusted and integrated infrastructure to the edge, so operational technologies can be efficiently deployed, managed and supported,” said Gil Shneorson, Senior Vice President, Edge Computing, Dell Technologies. “Working with partners like VMware, we help our customers tackle their edge deployments with products and solutions designed to be easily scaled and managed across a hybrid cloud, so customers can derive the most value from their data.”
Similarly, VMware Edge Compute Stack will be able to run on top of Lenovo’s ThinkSystem SE350 Edge Servers. The integrated solution, previously announced by Lenovo, is ideal for remote sites that need to be able to process data closer to its creation and closer to users, including retail stores, manufacturing sites, and schools, to name a few.
Charles Ferland, Vice President and General Manager, Edge Computing & Telecom at Lenovo, said, “We are delighted to share a common vision on edge computing with VMware, delivering value to customers. The VMware edge cloud platform is perfectly designed to deliver services where users need them, at the edge. Combined with Lenovo’s ruggedized and secure ThinkSystem SE350 server, our mutual customers can receive pre-loaded systems directly at their edge sites. The ThinkSystem SE350 also includes a built-in networking switch module and WiFi/4G connectivity, eliminating the need for extra external networking equipment and providing increased network resiliency.”
From an operational technology (OT) standpoint, SmartHub.ai is focused on defining a software-defined IoT edge to help enterprises discover, onboard and manage IoT assets – from IoT devices to IoT applications. Its platform also helps integrate all data sources from the edge to enable decisions and actions based on edge-ML/AI models. The platform will integrate with VMware Edge to help provide a consistent and comprehensive view of near and far edge locations.
Niranjan Maka, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of SmartHub.ai, said, “Enterprises are driving many of their innovations to the edge to deliver new business and end-customer experiences. Interactions involve a complex edge ecosystem of IoT devices, applications, and data, closer to customers. In addition, low-latency applications and AI workloads at the edge are solving key challenges that would have not been possible before. Enabling the OT teams to manage edge infrastructure at scale is key to success. There is no other company better poised to seamlessly handle ‘edge-to-multi-cloud’ workloads than VMware and its partner ecosystem.”
How Customers are Thinking about the Edge
In his VMworld 2021 solution keynote, The Future of Distributed Enterprise Edge Runs through Service Providers [EDG3058], Sanjay Uppal spoke with several customers about how they are approaching the new edge reality.
Andre Devillars, Head of IT infrastructure Architecture at Michelin, said, “We are in the midst of a digital transformation of our manufacturing sites. As we deploy and manage more AI and machine learning workloads at factories, our network traffic requirements are evolving. VMware SD-WAN has played an important role in helping us stay agile as we maintain performance and latency requirements. We expect to continue to work with VMware to address challenges associated with deploying cloud services out to the edge, including network performance, security and end-to-end management.”