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Cloud Native Ecosystem / Cloud Services / Edge Computing

VMware Discloses Its Edge Computing Future

At VMWorld, the company announced the VMware Edge Compute Stack, which can cover the entire spectrum of edge infrastructure and scale across many different locations.
Oct 11th, 2021 12:00pm by
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VMware’s vision of edge computing extends to the entire range of edge computing infrastructure.  The scope of its plans was revealed in the announcement of its ambitions for VMware Edge, an offering it introduced during its VMworld conference this month for those organizations struggling to manage multiple infrastructures, especially complex multicloud and distributed environments.

During a VMworld keynote presentation, VMware CEO Raghu Raghuram noted how edge computing is increasingly necessary in order to “push apps and services closer to where they’re needed,” especially in sectors like retail, manufacturing, transportation and energy.

“In our view, multicloud now extends all the way from public clouds to private clouds to the edge,” Raghuram said.

“But along with the advantages of multicloud come challenges: your enterprise architecture is way more distributed, your workloads are way more diverse, cloud native-born enterprise SASE are now apps at the edge,” he said. “You’re running on different clouds — but each one of them has its own siloed tools and systems, which makes it even more difficult to manage, connect and secure these applications running on that.”

As a solution, the VMware Edge compute stack “is purpose-built, so you can deploy edge native applications at the far edge,” Raghuram said.

Graphic describing VMware Edge products

Out on the Far Edge

A key feature of VMware Edge is a VMware-created stack consisting of a virtual machine (VM) and container-based stack, offering DevOps teams the ability to manage and secure edge-native apps at the far edge (VMware defines “far edge” as devices and data that are located on the customer’s premises).

VMware Edge Compute Stack will be available in standard, advanced and enterprise editions. VMware said it also has plans to develop a lightweight version of VMware Edge Compute Stack to provide what it says is “an extremely thin edge” for lightweight apps.

The VMware Edge stack covers the entire spectrum of edge infrastructure and scales across many different locations, said Sanjay Uppal, senior vice president and general manager for VMware’s service provider and edge departments.

The number of locations is “quite critical,” he said, since it is common for data centers to have possibly 10 or more locations, with common stacks running across hundreds of thousands or even more locations, where edge networks extend close to endpoints that are producing and consuming data

VMWare’s announcement is “unprecedented because you have a common management plane across the layers and the stack to distinguish it from the stacks that are running in the data center,” Uppal said.

“This stack can accommodate real-time workloads all the way down to the microseconds that you would need in the base station of a cell site, but it can also run in the context of a single domain or a single enterprise across tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of locations — and that’s really the crux of the announcement about VMware Edge.”

Other previously available offerings that VMware communicated that it will provide with VMware Edge include:

  • VMware SASE, which 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. VMware said it 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).”

The Telecommunications Use Case

Indeed, VMware Edge is well-adapted for telco needs, the company says. “One of the primary vehicles to get to the enterprise customer is going to be through the telco or the service providers,” Uppal said during a VMworld session Q&A.

VMware has defined edge computing and its variations as:

  • A 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.

However, definitions vary, while the end-use requirements for edge computing infrastructure remain largely the same, especially in the telecommunications space.

“If you ask five different people what the definite definition of the edges is, you tend to get many answers,” Uppal said during a press and analyst conference. “So, what we are saying is that the edge is distributed digital infrastructure — digital infrastructure, because we want to affect the digital transformation that our customers are going through.”

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