Vikram Anand, senior director, Ciena India

We are living in an age of rapid digital transformation. Many of the technological capabilities that enhance life today would have been difficult to imagine just five years ago. In the first 30 years of the internet, applications primarily focused on automating content sharing between the cloud and end users. Now, we are entering the next era of the internet, which includes automating physical and human tasks. This has resulted in the growth of cloud-native applications. 

The growing adoption of the cloud by enterprises, the increasing number of connected devices and the fast-developing 5G ecosystem with numerous use cases running low latency applications, will likely drive the growth of the “edge cloud” ecosystem in India.  

Cloud and experience-first mentality reigns

Nearly 40 per cent of Indian organisations will implement dedicated cloud services either on-premise or in a service provider facility by 2024, according to the IDC report, `FutureScape: Worldwide Cloud 2022 Predictions – India Implications’. The Indian public cloud service market will touch $13 billion by 2026, growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 23.1 per cent for 2021-26, says the IDC report. The growing digital ecosystem, coupled with the digital-first approach of new-age enterprises, is driving cloud adoption in the country. 

Furthermore, the way content is being consumed is evolving. From individual users watching over-the-top (OTT) video content to enterprises deploying software-as-a-service (SaaS), cloud services are driving the increased consumption of content and data. Unfortunately, the traditional centralised data center and cloud architecture today are not equipped to deliver the experience expected from cloud-native applications. 

It requires a dynamic distributed cloud model, and this has given rise to the edge cloud. Digital enterprises must deliver a low-latency exceptional experience, which requires them to move storage and process cloud resources closer to where the content is being generated and consumed. This shift to a distributed edge cloud model will lead to a dramatic increase in the number of data centers and will require the cloud ecosystem to think differently about the role of connectivity.  

Connected devices and 5G not letting up

Last year, India conducted a 5G spectrum auction with two telcos launching the service last year. 5G has the potential to revolutionise the way data is processed and transmitted, providing extremely low latency connectivity, making it perfect for applications such as real-time data analytics and autonomous vehicles. 

As telcos expand their 5G coverage and introduce new use cases to the market, network capacity and service agility to the metro and edge networks need to expand accordingly. Additionally, according to Deloitte, the number of connected devices in India is expected to reach 27 billion in 2025, driving the need for the edge cloud to provide the necessary resources to process and manage the large amount of data generated by these devices. 

Together with 5G, edge cloud will allow telcos to provide a more immersive experience to their subscribers. Edge cloud is all the more critical as telcos start introducing massive machine type communications (mMTC) and ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC) based use cases that demand extreme reliability, high data rates and ultra-low latency. Industrial automation, 5G private networks, network slicing, connected vehicles, online gaming, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are some such use cases. 

To ensure new cloud-native applications run seamlessly and deliver a compelling digital experience, this network of edge clouds must be able to quickly adapt and adjust resources to better meet the demands of the application layer. 

The edge cloud ecosystem may require telcos to collaborate with several partners, including cloud service providers, system integrators and edge application providers, among others. Players would need to work in tandem, to ensure the network performs with the required agility, security and scale. In this context, intelligent closed loop automation will be useful in helping telcos to address operational complexity and provide efficient management of the edge cloud network. 

As digital pervasiveness continues to grow in India, Indian telcos are realising the opportunity of the edge cloud. With the necessary infrastructure, they would be better able to invest in innovative use cases to deliver customer experiences and grow revenue.