Spotlight on Tech

Demystifying edge cloud platforms: a comprehensive guide to next-generation computing

July 19, 2023
minute read

In today's mobile network operator (MNO) landscape, organizations are constantly seeking ways to optimize their computing infrastructure, and edge cloud platforms have emerged as a game-changing solution.

An edge cloud platform brings data processing and storage closer to where data is created at the network edge, revolutionizing the way MNOs process workloads and deliver services. With its ability to minimize latency, enhance real-time data analytics and enable seamless edge-to-cloud integration, an edge cloud platform holds the key to unlocking new possibilities for MNO customers across various industries.

How does Rakuten Symphony know so much about edge cloud platforms? Because we helped our sister company, Rakuten Mobile, to be named the telco edge cloud platform deployment leader by industry analysts STL Partners. Rakuten Mobile has nearly 50,000 edge cloud sites – three times as many sites as the next MNO in the report.

Edge cloud platform vs traditional cloud platform

Unlike traditional cloud platforms, an edge cloud platform operates in locations that are away from the data center and telecom central office. These locations include the customer premise, cellular base station, telecom point of presence (PoP) and others. Sometimes these are called near edge and far edge locations.

The hardware needed for an edge cloud platform utilizes commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) CPUs and often has a short-depth chassis size to enable it to fit into cabinets and other enclosures that are space constrained. Some edge cloud platforms require fanless server designs and IP67 enclosures to protect against the weather.

These features are what differentiate the hardware needed for an edge cloud platform from that used in a data center.

The software, on the other hand, can be very similar. Both offer full cloud services based on cloud-native software platforms.

The big difference is that data centers are in large facilities that can be hundreds or thousands of miles away from the user. This can add transport latency to network applications. While added latency won’t be noticed by an email user, for example, someone watching a streaming video would notice this latency. Any application that would be impacted by latency should be deployed on an edge cloud platform.

Other advantages of an edge cloud platform vs. a traditional cloud platform include the ability to locate data within a particular geography to better comply with laws and regulations.

Key features and functionalities of an edge cloud platform

Let’s look at some key features and functionalities of an edge cloud platform.

Server: The server used in an edge cloud platform must deliver powerful compute performance via a CPU and built-in hardware accelerators, depending on the expected workloads. A multi-core CPU provides compute capacity for multiple workloads. The server must also provide flexible storage options and high-speed networking connections.

Cloud Native Containerization: While an edge server can be bare metal, most applications prefer to have the flexibility provided by a cloud-native containerization layer such as Kubernetes or Docker. This enables the compute performance to be provisioned across multiple workloads and to remotely change those workloads when necessary.

Workload: In most cases an edge cloud platform is deployed to support a specific workload, such as a content delivery network (CDN) or 5G base station. These applications are a key factor in optimizing the edge cloud platform to support the right levels of processing, storage and networking performance.

When needed, an edge cloud platform can seamlessly integrate with existing cloud infrastructure, allowing MNOs to leverage a cloud ecosystem's scalability, reliability, and management capabilities. This integration ensures a cohesive and optimized cloud environment that delivers superior performance and efficiency.  

How does an edge cloud platform integrate with existing cloud infrastructure?

By integrating an edge cloud platform into an existing cloud infrastructure, MNOs can unlock all of the possibilities of a cloud server at the network edge with the added benefits of reduced latency and maximized real-time data processing.

Cloud native edge computing can be extended to a data center-based cloud environment, creating a flexible compute platform that enables application development and deployment across an entire cloud ecosystem. This flexibility and agility empowers MNOs to rapidly innovate, respond to dramatic increases in customer demand, and stay ahead of the curve in a dynamic market landscape.

Integrating an edge cloud platform with an existing cloud infrastructure is a strategic investment that any MNO can make to drive business success. Rakuten Mobile is a good example of how an MNO can create a flexible and innovative compute platform by embracing the power of edge cloud computing combined with a data center-based cloud.

How does an edge cloud platform improve the user experience for distributed applications and services?

Distributed applications and services are growing in popularity because they deliver responsive user experiences using both edge and cloud resources.

Whether it's streaming media, real-time gaming, or interactive applications, MNO subscribers will enjoy lightning-fast response times and uninterrupted experiences brought about by a distributed application using edge and cloud resources.

With its agile and scalable nature, MNOs can effortlessly deploy applications across a distributed infrastructure, ensuring consistent performance regardless of user location. Users will appreciate the ability to access their applications and services quickly and reliably, without any compromises.

Integrating 5G cloud computing with an edge cloud platform elevates the distributed application user experience even further. The ultra-low latency and high bandwidth of 5G networks enable immersive augmented reality, virtual reality, and IoT applications. Users will be captivated by everywhere connectivity, enhanced interactivity, and immersive experiences that were once only dreams.

How do edge cloud platforms shape the future of computing by decentralizing data processing and enabling edge-to-cloud integration?

Edge cloud platforms allow MNOs to decentralize data processing so they can step into the future of computing. These platforms are at the forefront of transforming the way we process data by pushing data processing out of the data center while at the same time enabling seamless integration between the edge and the cloud.

We’ve already discussed the low latency benefits that are delivered in a decentralized compute environment made possible by edge cloud platforms. But in addition to that we have some other benefits:

  • Greater system reliability: The edge cloud platform is independent and not impacted by any upstream outages. In some configurations the edge cloud platform could work as a backup cloud server for the data center cloud.
  • Improved data privacy: In cases where data is processed on-premises, instead of the public cloud, data privacy can be enhanced.
  • Scalability: servers can be logically connected and remotely reprovisioned to scale service up or down depending on the user demand.
    Reduced backbone network bandwidth: with data processed at the edge near users, there’s reduced need to ship that data to the data center across the transport network. This saves cost and frees up capacity.

Decentralizing cloud computing is re-shaping the future of computing, with edge cloud platforms playing a revolutionary roll in how data is processed and providing additional compute resources for a decentralized cloud compute platform.

How do edge cloud platforms contribute to the advancement of emerging technologies such as IoT and 5G?

The proximity of compute and storage that edge cloud platforms provide is pivotal for IoT, enabling real-time data analysis, reduced latency, and enhanced responsiveness. MNOs can harness the power of edge cloud computing to unlock the true potential of IoT, enabling smart manufacturing, warehousing, inventory tracking, and intelligent automation services.

When it comes to 5G, edge cloud platforms play a crucial role in supporting base stations and 5G radio access networks (RANs). The radio signal processing in a base station needs real-time processing which is enabled by the low latency of the edge cloud platform.  Other value add or service enabling applications can use the edge cloud platform for revenue producing services empowering technologies like autonomous vehicles, remote surgery, and virtual reality.

Edge cloud platforms provide the scalable infrastructure and agility necessary to fuel the advancement of IoT and 5G. Embracing these platforms opens doors to new possibilities, propelling organizations to the forefront of technological innovation.


The emergence of edge cloud platforms has ushered in a new era of computing possibilities. These platforms have proven to be a transformative solution, enabling organizations to optimize their data processing and storage capabilities like never before. By bringing computation closer to the network edge, edge cloud platforms minimize latency and maximize real-time data analytics, resulting in faster insights and improved user experiences.

The seamless integration of edge and cloud environments offered by these platforms allows for enhanced scalability, flexibility, and agility. As businesses continue to evolve in the digital landscape, embracing edge cloud platforms will be key to staying competitive and unlocking the full potential of emerging technologies. Whether it's IoT, 5G, or other cutting-edge advancements, edge cloud platforms pave the way for innovation, efficiency, and growth.

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