How Lenovo Plans to Automate Edge Computing

eWEEK NEWS TREND ANALYSIS: The potential of new 5G enterprise offerings is jaw-dropping, with massive upticks in bandwidth and devices supporting data-intensive services and processes, including those at the far edges of networks. Lenovo has some ideas about automation that may prove pivotal in system transformations.

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Whenever something new in the tech industry comes along, the public focus tends to be on the results, not what it takes to deliver them. That’s hardly a surprise, since it’s easier to extol the rosy pleasures of the Promised Land than to detail the sometimes-arduous path required to get there.

But the IT vendors responsible for delivering those goods and services don’t have that luxury. Despite the migraine-worthy costs and complexities involved in building novel technologies, they’ll be simplistically judged according to whether or how well that shiny new thing works.

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That’s certainly the case with emerging 5G solutions. The potential of these offerings is jaw-dropping, with massive upticks in bandwidth and devices supporting data-intensive services and processes, including those at the far edges of networks. Those range from UHD content distribution to sophisticated video conferencing to augmented reality to Internet of Things (IoT) devices and applications. But how will communications service providers (CoSPs) realistically support those offerings?

The folks in Lenovo’s Data Center Group (DCG) have given these challenges considerable thought as evidenced by the company’s new Open Cloud Automation (LOC-A) solution for CoSPs. Let’s take a look at the problems involved and how Lenovo aims to solve them.

Business Life at the Network Edge

For existing and emerging edge applications and use cases that require high bandwidth and low latency, multiaccess edge computing (MEC) network architectures have become the solution of choice. Why so? First, because a MEC platform can interact directly with radio access networks (RAN), easing bandwidth congestion.

MEC platforms also support processes in distributed data centers and distributed clouds by processing or analyzing content at the edge using physical servers or virtual compute infrastructures (CPEs). Those distributed clouds and data centers can exist virtually anywhere, from a customer’s on-premises IT infrastructure to a central office or data center to a metro data center or aggregation site, to a distant cell site.

Managing highly complex and widely distributed edge compute environments and ensuring that they can effectively scale to meet fluctuating business demands is challenging, to say the least. Otherwise, potential cost savings and revenue generation opportunities can be eroded or entirely lost. As a result, deploying and managing edge compute environments in a timely and efficient manner is critically important for both businesses and the CoSPs that serve them.

Lenovo’s Open Cloud Automation for CoSPs

That, in a nutshell, is what Lenovo’s LOC-A solution is designed to do. How does Lenovo accomplish this?

The company developed LOC-A as an end-to-end cloud automation platform that enables customers to plan, deploy and manage operations and benchmark performance in distributed cloud infrastructures, including those leveraging MEC architectures. With support for Kubernetes, OpenStack, Red Hat OpenShift and VMware Cloud Foundation, CoSPs can use LOC-A to automate deployment and operations processes for containers, VMs and bare metal platforms.

Via interfaces, including REST APIs, LOC-A can also interface with existing management platforms and support scaling to hundreds of servers and thousands of workloads. Additionally, LOC-A can incorporate all kinds of storage clusters, and supports storage deployments, including traditional nodes, software-defined storage (SDS) nodes and hyperconverged SDS with compute-ready nodes.

Real-World Value

What kind of value can customers expect to achieve with LOC-A? Along with its announcement, Lenovo made available a customer (T-Systems) testimonial concerning the new solution, as well as a research paper by AvidThink that examined deployment scenarios and estimated performance and return on investment (ROI) benefits.

T-Systems, the largest IT services company in Germany, operates 30 global data centers that run business applications on over 65,000 VMs for its enterprise customers. The company believed Lenovo’s LOC-A could provide the means to improve efficiencies and costs across its data center infrastructure and was delighted with the results.

The time required to provision its entire end-to-end system was reduced from weeks to hours, and LOC-A decreased T-Systems’ operational expenses by 40%. Plus, enterprise customers were able to deploy and get their private clouds operating faster. Finally, since LOC-A combines the ease and performance benefits of public cloud with the data protection and security advantages of private cloud, Lenovo’s solution supports the seamless network integration required for emerging 5G and edge computing solutions.

The AvidThink study found similar results, estimating that CoSPs leveraging Lenovo LOC-A can enjoy:

  • ROI of $1.36 NPV over three years on every dollar spent;
  • reductions of up to 81% on initial deployment lead times; and
  • labor reduction for cloud implementations of up to 11X.

Final Analysis

It’s easy to get caught up in the exciting potential of new technologies with unique features and performance benefits. While businesses are wise to temper their enthusiasm for emerging solutions with a healthy dose of skepticism, the often-inherent complexities of those products can also be alleviated by the hard work of innovative vendors.

That’s certainly the case with Lenovo’s new Open Cloud Automation (LOC-A) solution. By developing an effective end-to-end cloud automation platform, the company has offered a path forward for customers, including CoSPs, to better plan, deploy, manage and scale cloud environments and services. That includes the infrastructures leveraging MEC architectures for edge computing and, eventually, 5G technologies.

Along with delivering significant gains in performance and cost savings, Lenovo’s LOC-A is also enabling clients to effectively plan ahead for the sizable impact of 5G on both business and consumer markets. By reducing the headaches businesses experience with edge computing today, Lenovo is helping its customers gain an edge in the future.

Charles King is a principal analyst at PUND-IT and a regular contributor to eWEEK.  © 2019 Pund-IT, Inc. All rights reserved.