NTT, VMware tout one-stop shop for managed edge services and private 5G

NTT and VMware are joining forces to launch a managed edge compute platform, complete with private 5G capabilities.

The companies’ offering, Edge-as-a-service, is built on VMware’s Edge Compute Stack and runs on Intel’s network and edge technology. NTT says the platform delivers near-zero latency for enterprise locations at the network edge, in turn helping businesses optimize costs and boost end-user experiences in a secure environment.

The drive behind this product is enterprise clients looking for a one-stop shop for edge services, Shahid Ahmed, NTT’s group EVP of new ventures and innovation, told Fierce.

“In our definition, that means edge compute, private 5G and IoT all bundled together as one,” he said, so that customers don’t have to purchase separate applications for each service.

“Our vision is to bring it all together so that it’s seamless, easy and we can price it as a single service,” Ahmed continued. “As opposed to providing multiple things by multiple suppliers and trying to integrate it all together.”

He went on to say enterprise clients seeking a consolidated edge compute platform are also looking for a high-bandwidth, low latency network to run applications on the edge. That’s how private 5G and edge come into play.

“Combining the two needs a lot of sets,” said Ahmed. “Because you don’t want a private 5G network without any applications on top. And the applications have to have some sort of edge compute capability within the factory floor or warehouse.”

Other cloud vendors are also boasting 5G connectivity. Google Cloud and Casa Systems last week unveiled a cloud-native networking product for telcos, with support for standalone 5G.

Ahmed added NTT and VMware’s offering also includes a solution for IoT sensors, which can provide edge gateway support or connect on-premises equipment.

The companies have collaborated for years on virtualizing IT infrastructure, and they are building onto that work with the combined product, Ahmed explained.

“As [VMware] is evolving their product set to edge, it just made a lot of sense to work with them on this initiative,” he said. “And we do believe they have the best in class [service] and at the same time have deep integration with IT environments.”

Ahmed added NTT is targeting Edge-as-a-service primarily towards industrial, manufacturing and healthcare enterprises. Use cases range from machine vision and IoT to components like always-connected PCs and automated guided vehicles.

“But that’s not to say edge cannot be used outside of these three industries, but those are the three we’re focusing on,” he said. And Ahmed pointed out NTT already has commercial private 5G customers in the industrial manufacturing and automotive sectors.

Semiconductor manufacturer Broadcom announced in May plans to buy VMware for $61 billion. But Ahmed doesn’t expect the acquisition to bear any weight on NTT and VMware’s current offering – for the moment.

“As far as we know, they haven’t changed their roadmaps in terms of products they’re launching or have plans for launching,” he said. “So it seems like business as usual for now, at least.”