Leverage Edge Compute with the Lumen Platform and Deliver Unique Business Value
The relationship between applications and infrastructure has evolved a lot over the past few decades. We continue to see a steady move from centralized to distributed applications, data and infrastructure. With that move, we continue to see greater capabilities, more flexibility and lower costs—all adding up to greater business value for enterprise customers.
From On-Premises to Cloud and Beyond
Business applications used to run in enterprise data centers, and employees used dumb terminals to access their work. As client/server technology emerged, some applications and workloads were pushed to desktop PCs, and some were hosted out of the company’s data center. When virtualized storage and compute became possible, enterprises found they could distribute applications across different locations and have them share resources or even work together. Then cloud providers took virtualization to a whole new level, creating public cloud services. Enterprises saw there were a lot of things they could run out of the cloud more inexpensively and with better redundancy and reliability than in their own data centers.
Data centers are very expensive for enterprises to operate. As public cloud platforms emerged to host and support applications, enterprises increasingly looked at their data centers and decided to get rid of that huge expense. The main thrust of most enterprises is not to be in the data center business, so organizations are moving applications to the cloud as much as they can.
IT decision makers often see two venues for running their applications: the public cloud, or on an enterprise premises. Each has its advantages and disadvantages:
Public Cloud Advantages
- The cloud can be a cheaper place to run applications.
- Cloud service providers can offer high levels of scalability, reliability, security…
- Public clouds offer tooling and associated resources to enhance your applications—such as analytical tools, AI capabilities, and other value-added services.
Public Cloud Disadvantages
- The public cloud can be too far away from the premises, creating long latency—certain applications have to interact with the enterprise premises in a few milliseconds, and you can’t run those in the public cloud.
- The public cloud is generally accessed through the public internet, including thousands of different organizations connected to each other in a variety of ways. How it maps from your enterprise location back to the public cloud service provider is variable and unpredictable creating less reliable performance for applications transferring a lot of data.
On-Premises Enterprise Advantages
- On-premises, you can tightly control the performance from a latency standpoint—it’s right there, physically at the enterprise location.
- You can tightly control security and data privacy, as well.
On-Premises Enterprise Disadvantages
- Enterprise locations are the most expensive places to run applications. For example, retailers with applications running in 1,000 store locations across the country—retail square footage is expensive.
- On-premises enterprise applications require skilled IT operations personnel and expensive infrastructure investments.
- Depending on the type of enterprise location, security and reliability may not be good. A retail location for example may have less reliable power, a poor operating environment, and poor security.
Balance the Trade-Offs with Edge Compute
That is the world most people live in today: either host applications in the public cloud or on-premises. But edge compute creates a middle ground that balances the trade-offs between those two extremes. Now you can drop an application into a secure location that’s more cost-efficient than on-premises, but still delivers the low-latency performance you need because the application is sitting locally in that market.
If you’re running applications in the back rooms of 20 stores in a city like Denver, you’re not getting good utilization because that compute and storage infrastructure is divided-up into 20. If you could run everything out of one metro edge location, you could get greater efficiency. You would also get greater reliability in a guarded facility with power redundancy.
Edge compute creates a middle-ground that gives enterprises a third choice for better efficiency and cost control. Although edge locations are not public clouds like AWS, Azure and Google Cloud, they are big enough that you can deploy AI tools, machine leaning tools, video analytics tools and other rich application services. You can run applications and workloads at the edge, in a high-performance/low-latency fashion, that aren’t possible to run economically on-premises.
Critical to realizing this value is the orchestration and coordination of applications and the movement of data among public clouds, the edge, and your enterprise location(s). Many advancements have enabled that, including the movement toward containerized architectures and the ability to easily and quickly push applications in a structured way to different spots, connect them together, coordinate and manage them in groups, and service-chain these elements together, end-to-end. A lot of great tools enable that, including: Google’s Kubernetes, VMware’s Tanzu, and IBM’s Red Hat OpenShift.
Leverage Our Unique Approach
Unlike mobile network operators, Lumen is not building proprietary edge compute, where access to the edge must go through the operator’s own 5G wireless network. We’re also taking a different approach from some cloud service providers—for example, the Amazon Outpost product is like a mini-version of AWS deployed on or near the customer premises. Instead, Lumen is building a service that is multi-cloud interoperable, and it ties the performance of the edge compute closely to our high-performance networking capabilities.
Lumen has teamed with Morpheus, a leading orchestration tool provider, for end-to-end, multi-cloud coordination and interaction. Most enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy with some workloads in AWS, some in Azure and some in Google Cloud. Using multi-cloud orchestration tools like Morpheus and tools that others like VMware and IBM are building as well, Lumen’s edge compute can interoperate with workloads residing across the spectrum of the major cloud service providers.
That interoperability doesn’t mean sacrificing the tools you know and love. For example, if you’re a VMware shop, you can use Lumen’s edge compute and the VMware tools your technicians and DevOps people are used to. The tools have the same characteristics as they did before. If you’re a Red Hat house, our edge compute platform will support Red Hat OpenShift so your employees can leverage those tools.
When you work with Lumen, you’re not locked-in to any vendor’s approach, whether it’s AWS or Azure or Google or the IBM Cloud. Customers can use the tools they want and the technologies they’re used to with interoperability across multi-cloud environments.
Pair that with a network that is designed to reach the great majority of major enterprises within 5ms latency and has very tight controls over how the data is routed from enterprise premises, to the edge, to the cloud service providers. The Lumen Platform provides a consistent enterprise experience for multi-national corporations that want to work across the world. It connects all the major cloud service providers in the fastest way possible, establishing the shortest route from your enterprise location back to the public cloud service providers that you choose to work with.
The combination of our global fiber network together with multi-cloud, open interoperability makes the Lumen Platform unique in delivering next-generation distributed solutions. Our managed services secure, orchestrate and deliver applications and data instantaneously across a distributed global environment.
A lot of companies do multi-cloud orchestration across the public internet, where you don’t know how your packets are moving, how many hops your data takes, or how many carriers it goes through to deliver from one point to another—and it changes from minute to minute. Those companies can’t control the movement of data all the way down to the fiber the way that Lumen does.
The Lumen platform integrates orchestration tools through the network layers to establish connectivity with the lowest possible latency. It does real-time provisioning of those network connections through software-defined networking (SDN). Our intellectual property ties the orchestration of distributed applications, data and infrastructure all the way down through the network layers to provide the performance, security and managed services each application needs, end-to-end.