“Step Right Up! Everyone’s a Winner!
Carnival tout or business strategy?
The future looks very different. It always does. The future requires different solutions. It always does. It is hard to see what these new solutions will look like before they arrive, this is the challenge MobiledgeX has undertaken, to transform how we enable software developers and new device makers to build the experiences of the future. Recently we announced our first lead customer on our new system, Niantic, in collaboration with our founder, Deutsche Telekom. Niantic is the company behind Pokemon Go, the world leader in AR-enabled real-world gaming. Our initial focus? To help edge enable real-time mass multiplayer experiences, persistence and visual occlusion, through contextual computer vision by leveraging edge infrastructure being built through decentralized cloudlets.
For us at MobiledgeX, Edge is not a technology but a business, where people can participate and leverage their existing assets and investments in new and more interesting ways, to generate new experiences and new revenue streams. Let us explain more...
If you heard “everyone is a winner” at the State Fair it would make sense to ensure your wallet was tucked away securely. For MobiledgeX it’s a business principle. One of CEO Jason Hoffman’s core philosophies is “everyone gets paid,” which operationalizes into business strategies where the ecology you create is designed to have benefits for all the participants (in contrast to other philosophies where fears drive people to participate and leaves them to find out if and how they can benefit later). Making sure everyone won was an important and successful principal for Jason at Joyent, and something he has carried forward to MobiledgeX. Our business model is based on necessarily creating a complex ecology with many partners; we’re doing that from the beginning in a way that everyone will win.
Before unpacking this a little, let’s review what MobiledgeX is doing. At the highest level, we’re creating a developer-friendly way of adding new functionality at the mobile edge without having to directly integrate with the cellular infrastructure, the impediment in the past. We’re building a federation of mobile operator business partners, asking each of them to make available some existing or new compute power at the edge and to make it possible for us to discover and use it. We’re building developer-friendly, cloud like services that enable applications to use those edge resources and we are providing new and valuable integration with the global cellular infrastructure at the edge. Finally, we’re creating a marketplace that makes it easy to discover, use and integrate with other services available at the edge.
We’re creating system agility at the edge that doesn’t exist in today’s carefully architected and standardized mobile infrastructure. It can be used to provide additional integration with the network infrastructure and mobile devices, to create functions that are closer to the user (as measured in network latency and connection quality) than is possible with today’s centralized cloud services, and that in turn enables new applications such as IoT, AI/machine learning that would not be feasible without improved network connectivity. Services at the edge enable new devices and new forms of collaboration among clustered users or devices.
In that context, we can talk about how all our various business partners can win and all get paid.
The Internet is tremendously inefficient today and the mobile network operators handle most of the burden. Users have been liberated through mobility but applications have remained statically deployed in large public clouds. This makes traffic transit long distances from point of consumption to point of supply and back. It is amazing and credit to the industry that it works at all and to such scale today. Everybody wants to pay less while consuming more leading to economics that would have destroyed most companies. A GB of data delivered in 2007 in the UK generated $1 MUSD in top line revenue. In 2017, that had declined to just $1.
Edge enables mobile operators to add value rather than be pure transit and benefits them in multiple ways. They can use these resources as a way of adding agility to their infrastructure and provision and monetize new services much quicker and more easily. They can work with device partners to enable edge-augmented devices and monetize the augmentation. They can use edge services to support and monetize new A/R and V/R applications, and high-performance collaboration between locally clustered users. And they get paid whenever anyone uses the MobiledgeX resources they have provided.
Device makers want to create more immersive and intelligent experiences, both of which adds cost to the device and challenges on form factor and battery life. With edge device makers get a broader design palette with the opportunity to use edge resources to augment device resources without diminishing battery life and potentially creating whole new classes of software and hardware experience.
IoT system developers get an important new edge platform to support periodically wirelessly connected IoT devices, and a way to augment AI, machine learning and autonomous systems creation with those devices. For the first time, developers will have access to unique edge resources and services, opening the door to the application optimizations and the next generation of experiences. As mentioned at the start, the team at Niantic, creator of leading Augmented Reality games like Pokémon GO, is the first publicly announced user of the services in the partnership with Deutsche Telekom and ourselves.
And then there is edge computing. Providing services closer to the “edge” of the Internet means placing them where the network connectivity is better—lower latency, greater bandwidth, less jitter, less packet loss. The Internet provides a miracle of connectivity but with uncertain and often problematic performance. As the Internet has increased in value, ways have been found to accelerate performance, typically by moving parts of an application closer to the point of use so less Internet was involved, starting with CDN’s 20 years ago. Edge computing is important because application performance is important, and because the performance of today’s cloud-based applications is far from perfect and limited by the network connection over the Internet. MobiledgeX is providing much closer services that are integrated with cellular connectivity. As more Internet use migrates to cellular devices that’s an important step forward toward better application and service performance.
Cloud Providers and CDNs
Today’s cloud providers can use the edge to extend their services nearer to the user and to directly integrate those services into the client side application development workflows. It should be possible to adapt existing cloud applications to move the web tier to the edge relatively easily. This will enable responsiveness of dynamic interaction to match that currently seen with optimized static assets today.
As any engineer knows, it feels wonderful to see things actually working for the first time and I am really excited about what MobiledgeX has done in a short period of time, but I’m even more excited of the fact that this simple demo is running on real infrastructure and real software from us that can scale to match the modern global cellular infrastructure.
When will everyone win?
The big opportunity comes when the edge becomes the “new normal” — when enough of the edge is built out so an application developer can design for that location rather than adapting an application designed for a more interior position with inferior network connectivity. There is a lot of opportunity for improving application performance, as Google and others have demonstrated over the years. It’s clear that improved application performance improves user productivity, and there is a lot of room for improvement beyond today’s cloud applications. Writing applications for the edge can revolutionize cloud application design. That’s a huge opportunity for application and service providers, and a means for enterprises to achieve business differentiation.
MobiledgeX is making the almost 2 trillion dollar global cellular infrastructure developer friendly and accessible. Doing this requires creating a complex ecology with many different kinds of business partner. MobiledgeX is doing that in a way that makes the outcome a win for all the participants.
We welcome all further interest to learn more, from telecom operators to developers.
Let’s make the future better, starting now.