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In the New Era of Distributed Intelligence, Strategic Partnerships will Drive the Edge Cloud

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In the New Era of Distributed Intelligence, Strategic Partnerships will Drive the Edge Cloud


With advancements in AI, the rise of 5G, compute moving to the edge, and the shift to cloud-native networks—our industry is on the cusp of unlocking massive potential in the edge cloud. Gartner predicts that by 2025, more than 50% of enterprise-managed data will be created and processed outside the data center or cloud.1 As a result, the edge economy will surpass $4.1 trillion by 2030.2

Enabling edge cloud services and capturing new revenue streams will take collaboration across the network ecosystem. Many players, including cloud service providers, independent software vendors (ISVs), and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), are poised to bring unique strengths to deliver joint edge-cloud solutions. Communications service providers (CoSPs) are no exception.

Now is the time for CoSPs to develop key partnerships to help them deliver and monetize edge cloud services.

And Intel is there to support them at every turn. We’re committed to matchmaking through our mature ecosystem and delivering powerful, secure edge hardware and software solutions. This includes Intel® Smart Edge and the new Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) experience kit.


The future of the edge is software-defined

Enterprises across manufacturing, healthcare, retail, smart cities, and beyond are interested in the benefits the edge offers. Moving compute closer to the origin of data can enable low latency and data sovereignty. This leads to improved efficiencies in business processes, lower total cost of ownership, and enhanced security.

Today, some of the most exciting conversations I’m having are debates around which workloads will shift from the cloud to the edge. To move those workloads across the network seamlessly, we need a software-defined and cloud-native edge. 

As enterprise applications move from corporate data centers to the cloud or the on-premises edge, their branches require secure connectivity that is reliable and affordable with low latency. Wide area network (WAN) connectivity over the public internet can be complex and expensive to manage. Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) introduces a new way to operate a WAN by decoupling the management of the WAN from the underlying networking hardware (e.g., routers). This enables SD-WAN management in a centralized manner, making it more scalable.

Service providers view the edge as the next logical location demanding an extension of the network functions virtualization that catalyzed network transformation almost a decade ago. In lockstep, they are pursuing cloud-native architectures for dynamic orchestration of data, intelligence, software, and services across an end-to-end compute fabric—ultimately powering a scalable, distributed, and programmable network.

In this paradigm, edge clouds are “mini clouds,” or cloud computing platforms are optimized for a specific edge location. With this cloud-native infrastructure in place, providing new edge services is well within reach.

But the edge is not identical to the cloud and comes with unique challenges as the industry progresses toward software-defined infrastructure and the buildout of the edge. You could even say that the future is not cloud-native—but edge native.

One of the significant points of contrast comes from the fact that, unlike the cloud, the edge is not a single location. The edge is multiple locations with distinctive characteristics. Because edge locations differ vastly in performance and power requirements, preferred form factors, and security risks, we also need to consider highly diverse platform requirements. In addition, the growing number of edge nodes creates a larger attack surface, meaning we need to define and implement edge-specific security measures.

The new Intel® Smart Edge Open SASE experience kit helps network providers deploy a on top of Intel® Smart Edge networks without investing in specialized hardware. The Intel® Smart Edge Open SASE experience kit handles multiple protocols and can integrate with cloud and hybrid SASE security measures.


Partnerships are key to capitalizing on edge cloud opportunities

Today, a dynamic landscape of industry players is developing different models, concepts, geographic requirements, and use cases for the edge cloud. Networking will be critical to unleashing the edge cloud. And because of their network expertise and history, CoSPs will play a strong role.

Given the nature of disaggregated networks and growing volumes of data, networking at the edge will be highly complex. CoSPs bring valuable experience managing and delivering top-quality networks; they are well-positioned to make sense of complicated networking elements. CoSPs can almost act as systems integrators, bringing their strengths to work with others in the ecosystem on edge cloud solutions. For example, they may partner with a cloud service provider to help architect and manage their edge infrastructure.

In addition, CoSPs’ existing 5G network real estate offers a natural opportunity for edge deployments. CoSPs can strategically locate “micro data centers” on radio tower sites and base stations. These 5G networks also act as engines that ingest data that fuels applications, such as immersive media or real-time analytics, for tomorrow’s edge cloud.

With these factors in mind, CoSPs can feel confident in pursuing partnerships with OEMs, ISVs, enterprises, and more to develop edge cloud services. I have already seen these partnerships come together firsthand.

An example of what collaboration can achieve is our standalone private-network project with Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (Du), which is accelerating the possibilities of 5G and edge computing.

Implemented using Intel® Smart Edge Open, the novel enterprise-connectivity solution provides extensive levels of security demanded by smart city, smart transportation, Industry 4.0, and hospital scenarios.


Intel's ecosystem and portfolio accelerate the edge cloud

To unleash the edge cloud, we offer diverse edge-ready solutions. These include products such as Intel® Smart Edge, Intel® Xeon® D processors, and the Intel® Distribution of OpenVINO™ Toolkit—designed to help service providers power distributed intelligence and services from the cloud to the edge.

Intel® Smart Edge allows developers and service providers to build performant and optimized edge platforms and get to market faster. Furthermore, given the security demands of the edge cloud, Intel® Smart Edge was designed from the ground up for zero-trust security.

As I look back over the past 15 years, Intel has been a trusted advisor for CoSPs from the days of virtualizing networks all the way through unlocking the edge. With our strong history of collaboration and the most proven ecosystem, we connect our partners and customers to transform industries, build markets, and fuel shared success.

Enabling the emergence of the edge cloud marks our next chapter in powering progress. Learn more about how Intel is advancing the edge.



  1. Bittman, Thomas; Gill, Bob; Zimmerman, Tim; Friedman, Ted; MacDonald, Neil; and Brown, Karen. “Gartner Predicts 2022: The Distributed Enterprise Drives Computing to the Edge,” Oct. 20, 2021.
  2. Hardcastle, Jessica  L. “Edge Internet Economy Will Hit $4.1 Trillion by 2030, Study Says,” SDxCentral, Aug. 22, 2019.

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About the Author
Vice President, Data Platforms Group, General Manager, Smart Edge Platforms Division Intel Corporation Renu N. Navale is vice president in the Data Platforms Group and general manager of the Smart Edge Platforms Division at Intel Corporation. She is responsible for overall strategy, software and platforms that strengthen Intel’s presence in the network edge computing business sector. She also leads ecosystem enabling for the Network Platforms Group (NPG) to accelerate network and edge transformation, and she fosters scale and industrywide collaboration through open source initiatives. Navale joined Intel in 2004 with extensive experience in networking and software. During her Intel career, she has held positions in strategic planning, product management, software marketing and engineering, and in 2015, she earned an Intel Achievement Award, the company’s highest recognition. In 2019, Navale was a finalist for the Edge Computing Woman of Year industry award from Edge Computing World and State of Edge. She also serves on the board of LFEdge, an industry initiative focused on creating an open source community for Edge. Before assuming her current role in 2017, Navale served as technical assistant and chief of staff to the vice president and general manager of NPG. Earlier in her Intel career, she oversaw the creation and launch of the Intel Network Builders program. Her tenure at Intel also includes managing the strategic planning team in the Internet of Things Group’s automotive division, where she led autonomous driving and connected car strategies. Before joining Intel, Navale worked on wireless, VoIP, and network management technologies at Nokia Networks. Her achievements were recognized twice with the company’s highest award for software design and innovation during her eight-year tenure. Navale holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering from Bangalore University in India, a master’s degree in computer science and engineering from Arizona State University, and an MBA degree from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. She has published multiple papers on topics related to wireless technologies. An active champion of STEM education, Navale volunteers as a programming coach and science fair mentor and judge. She is currently on the advisory board for the SciTech Institute and the Girls Innovation Academy to promote STEM education. She also champions diversity and inclusion efforts for NPG as part of the People First initiative.