According to the latest VNI forecast, global service provider networks are getting edgier.

By 2022, a third of service provider network capacity will be at the edge or within the metro, growing up from 27 percent in 2017.  While the capacity in core regional networks will be 24 percent (down from 25 percent in 2017) and in the cross-country core will be 43 percent (down from 48 percent in 2017).

The increase in the edge network capacity is being driven by application trends that require more bandwidth, storage and data processing capabilities at the edge.

The first and the foremost reason is the burgeoning video traffic.  VNI forecasts that by 2022, more than four-fifths or 80 percent of the total global Internet traffic will be video, up from 70 percent in 2017.  Not only are people consuming more video minutes over the Internet but are also viewing it in in higher definitions, going from standard to high and further to ultra-high definition video on device and network connectivity of their choice.

Secondly, for optimal end-user experience larger amounts of video and web content, in general, are being delivered over content delivery networks (CDNs) that are geographically dispersed.  Anecdotally, every 100 miles of distance can add a millisecond of latency to the video stream, thus CDN providers might try and locate the servers closer to the edge.  This becomes even more important when live streaming.  When an Internet user submits a request, the content or the video is delivered from the nearest located server caching the requested item.  Seventy-two percent of the global Internet traffic will be delivered over CDNs by 2022.  CDN traffic, per the VNI forecast, includes traffic both from third-party CDNs like Akamai and Limelight, as well as private CDNs. Private CDNs are those operated by content providers for their own content like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and Netflix etc.

Lastly, the growth in the Internet of things (IoT) or machine-to-machine (M2M) is a big contributor to the transformation that’s happening in edge networks.   According to the latest VNI forecast, there will be 14.6 billion M2M connections (51% of the total global connected devices) by 2022.  This means that there will be 8.5 billion more connections over the forecast period of 2017 to 2022. This growth will be across a variety of applications including our homes, work, cars, cities, health, manufacturing and supply chain, retail, energy etc.  All these connections are going to generate a vast amount of data or big data.  Network operators will need a robust, intelligent and secure edge network and computing solutions to be able to analyze and cache this vast amount of data and generate actionable information.  This will not only help deliver quality services with minimal latency/no delays but also help conserve the bandwidth and energy usage that would otherwise be consumed if every bit and byte were to be transported to the core.

In a future where interactive applications utilizing tactile Internet and virtual reality become more pervasive the importance of edge networks is likely to get further enhanced.  Stay tuned for more information on this topic.

For more insights on Edge Networking, see the Edge Computing page.


Shruti Jain

Leader, Project & Program Management

X-Architecture Marketing, Enterprise Networking & Cloud