Deeper Dive—What Akamai, Limelight and others said about edge computing in Q3

Akamai, Google, Limelight and Microsoft all discussed edge computing during their third-quarter earnings calls. (Pixabay)

Reasons and opportunities to move beyond just cloud computing and get closer to the network edge are echoing throughout numerous different industries.

For streaming video and cloud gaming providers, the edge means a reduction in latency that will be critical as more people take in big television events on streaming platforms and AAA video game titles look to skip the physical hardware and go over-the-top.

During its third-quarter earnings call, Akamai touted its edge architecture consisting of 240,000 servers positioned in 3,900 locations in more than 1,000 cities across 143 countries.

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“The core of the Internet just doesn't have the scale or proximity to end users and devices to keep up with ever increasing demands. The edge of the Internet is where our customers connect with their end users and that is where their digital experiences must be fast, intelligent, and secure,” said Akamai CEO Thomson Leighton, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

Akamai is counting on the edge to deliver large amounts of video at high quality, to provide the capacity to absorb denial of service attacks and to provide main server lookups close to end users and devices.

Fellow CDN provider Limelight used part of its third-quarter earnings call to talk up its recent agreement with Ericsson to form a Unified Delivery Network (UDN), which is basically an edge platform with more than 40 points of presence within service provider networks.

“We plan to install our software technology on UDN’s existing and future pops, which will expand our footprint – our delivery capabilities globally and increase our delivery capacity in strategic areas for our customers. As a result, we’ll be able to expand our revenue by using the UDN sites for delivery to our customers, and Ericsson will be able to expand its revenue by selling more CDN and edge services to its customers,” said Limelight CEO Robert Lento according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

Limelight said its deals with Ericsson and Linode will contribute millions in new revenue next year and that nearly half of the company’s 15% growth target will directly stem from those initiatives.

Limelight also touched on a software product is has in the works called function as a service, which will allow customers to develop applications and have the workload handled at the edge instead of in the cloud data center.

While Google didn’t speak specifically about edge computing during its third-quarter earnings call, the company did discuss its Project Stream cloud gaming trials, which undoubtedly will rely on the edge to achieve the near non-existent latency levels needed to stream AAA video game titles via Chrome.

“…Having spent my life in computing, I was blown away by seeing our ability to stream a game which needs real­-time interactions and to be able to do that from the cloud. And it's one of the most important technological advances I've seen in a while. And so, we are going to focus on that and make sure we're making progress there and bring our newer experiences for gamers,” said Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

Microsoft dedicated a portion of its third-quarter earnings call to talking up its Azure cloud platform and recently added capabilities around security and new workloads like IoT and edge AI. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said he sees a perceived advantage for his company in its hybrid architecture.

“So, we don't think of hybrid as some stopgap as a move to the cloud. We think about it's the coming together of distributed computing where the cloud and the edge work together for not just the old workloads, but most importantly for new workloads. And that's where we are seeing some very significant good feedback loops and shaping even our future road map. And this is a place where we are leading,” said Nadella according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

Nadella said that Microsoft is improving its capital efficiency by building an intelligent cloud, intelligent edge platform to span its Azure business along with the future of cloud gaming and what the company is doing at Microsoft 365 or Dynamics 365.