Bringing hybrid cloud technology to the network edge

By | 3 minute read | August 31, 2021

edge manufacturing

Lumen Technologies enables enterprises to capitalize on the 4th Industrial Revolution. Using our 450,000 route-mile fiber network connected to more than 180,000 on-net fiber locations in 60 countries, we power transformative data and analytics-intensive use cases in manufacturing, financial services, healthcare, education and government.

Lumen’s hybrid cloud infrastructure is integrated with computing and storage across the public cloud, the network edge and customer premises, and is compatible with software defined datacenter standards for agile development.

Why is the hybrid cloud important? It offers economies of scale, rich development tools and services, open interoperability and easy access to new types of data, caching and messaging abstractions. It’s just a great place for developers to work.

Yet cloud-based processing can lead to bandwidth and latency issues that hinder real-time insights from time-sensitive applications—think visual inspection of parts flowing through an assembly line or instant trades from financial analytics.

Edge computing meets the hybrid cloud

That’s why the Lumen platform is designed to maximize bandwidth throughput and minimize processing latency. We accomplish this by moving time-critical workloads closer to digital interactions at the network edge, while still maintaining secure connections to the enterprise cloud infrastructure.

Now, the best of edge computing meets the distributed cloud thanks to our collaboration with IBM. We’ve integrated IBM Cloud Satellite with the Lumen platform to enable our mutual customers to harness IBM Cloud services in near-real time as they build innovative edge computing solutions.

Lumen and IBM can help edge applications achieve low latency with the same levels of security, data privacy, interoperability and open standards found in advanced hybrid cloud environments.

AI visual inspection: a killer app for edge computing

IBM Cloud Satellite deploys on Lumen’s metro edge bare metal servers. After we certified the integration, we began exploring promising use cases within the IBM software ecosystem. It’s still early days, but we believe we’ve found a killer app in video analytics and computer vision.

Conserving bandwidth is critical when AI models for video analytics are deployed to inspection cameras. As an example, and for performance reasons, you don’t want to transmit to the cloud or data center for analysis all visual data from parts moving through an assembly line. This is also applicable for visuals of boxes or palettes in a warehouse.

As a specific test case, using IBM Cloud Satellite to distribute and update the software involved, we validated an employee safety solution powered by AI visual analytics running at the edge. The solution identifies whether workers entering a danger zone are wearing hard hats and instantly notifies them of the danger. It capitalizes on Lumen infrastructure designed for single-digit millisecond latency and can be deployed across highly distributed environments like offices, factories and retail spaces.

A way to develop, distribute and manage edge apps across the enterprise

With IBM Cloud Satellite, we host the solution on Red Hat OpenShift on IBM Cloud at the close proximity of a Lumen edge location, which lets the cameras and sensors function in near-real time. And with OpenShift, these deployments can be made rapidly and consistently. IBM has showed the way on velocity with their own IBM Cloud platform.

This solution can leverage IBM Cloud services in each of Lumen’s 180,000 locations, where IBM Cloud Satellite lets us easily deploy and manage these cloud services from a common console, via a secure tunnel. The resulting versatile reach enables developing, distributing and managing edge applications across the global enterprise.

Our collaboration with IBM combines the deployment flexibility of IBM Cloud Satellite with the Lumen platform’s broad availability, adaptive networking and connected security capabilities. This helps enterprises drive innovation more rapidly at the edge—and propels them forward to leverage the emerging capabilities of the 4th Industrial Revolution.