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The Promise of the Edge Cloud and 5G

By: Charles Russell | March 18, 2021
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Original source: Limelight Networks

Two key technologies, mobile networks and cloud services, are evolving in tandem to create new opportunities for consumer and business applications. Many mobile networks are adding 5G infrastructure and services, promising higher speed and lower latency than legacy technologies. At the same time, cloud services are increasingly deployed at the network edge and referred to as edge cloud services, reducing latency and improving scalability by operating closer to users and IoT devices.

The 5G and the edge cloud could create a new era that can increase productivity, reduce costs, drive engaging video services and enable new applications.

What does edge computing mean for 5G and vice versa?

Edge computing is a form of cloud computing where compute capacity is distributed to many regional locations, reducing latency and cost while improving scalability, resilience, and data governance. Edge computing and 5G promise dramatically lower latency compared to traditional offerings. Applications employing both offer exciting opportunities for businesses and consumers, with new capabilities for real-time and interactive applications.

Consider a gaming example in which a 5G user plays an online, compute-intensive game. Any game elements that require cloud compute must transit wirelessly to a 5G tower, across wired networks to the cloud compute resources for processing, and then the result returned. Many players will suffer high latency due to long-distance network transit if the compute resources are in a centralized cloud location. If the same compute tasks are performed at the network edge near the player, latency will be much lower.

Drastically lower latency makes for a superior experience that keeps users returning for more. In addition, direct peering between the 5G provider and the edge compute provider can improve performance.

What opportunities do 5G and the edge cloud present for businesses?

With the powerful combination of low latency and high performance of edge compute and 5G, organizations can now achieve real-time business results.

1. Deliver innovative digital experiences

Media and entertainment companies can offer personalized streaming and interactive experiences with fast response and exceptional quality. Game developers can deliver next-generation mobile gaming with highly responsive gameplay and superior graphics. Web developers can offer cooler websites and more personalized online journeys. With these new technologies, virtual and augmented reality experiences can be much more realistic and responsive.

2. Improve latency-sensitive applications and processes

Latency-sensitive processes in an application stack involving user interactivity and IoT control are ideal cases to consider moving to the network edge. From an entire application to a handful of key microservices, response time improvements at the network edge can make a big difference. Depending on the application, benefits can include improved user experience, local IoT data handling, cloud application efficiency, faster transaction time, real-time analytics, and more.

3. Get Regional

Distributed applications with regional footprints can gain significant performance improvements from edge cloud computing. Deploying across regions in multiple edge locations increases efficiency and performance within each region. In addition, data sovereignty is vital in many areas, and processing locally streamlines compliance.

4. Reduce costs

Edge cloud resources are scalable and can be pay-as-you-go services that are fast to deploy and much more affordable than investing in and maintaining a costly infrastructure.

In addition, computing in-region dramatically reduces the need to transfer data to centralized locations, which can reduce transit costs as well as latency. It may also be possible to reduce reliance on cloud storage services that often include egress charges and at-rest costs. Edge compute services make responding to your company's changing needs easier.

How can your business prepare for a faster, more distributed world?

Businesses that figure out how to make—and sell—applications that take advantage of edge tech and 5G can gain competitive advantages, provide better user experiences, and have more bandwidth (both literal and figurative) to meet customer and application needs now and well into the future. Edge compute services deployed at the edge of a global Content Delivery Network (CDN) with extensive peering are the ideal location to maximize the impact. With forward-thinking planning and innovative vendors, now’s the time to give your business a real edge.

Limelight Networks, now Edgio, helps the world’s leading media, entertainment, and gaming companies deliver their users the best possible online experiences.

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