The New Edge Computing Consortium: Ready for the Digital Prime Time?

Ron Westfall - Research Director, Service Provider Infrastructure
Ron Westfall – Research Director, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

• In November 2016, Huawei co-launched the Edge Computing Consortium (ECC) to advance industry-wide openness and collaboration in digital transformation environments.

• However the ECC initiative must expand its membership, increase geographical diversity, clarify its OT and ICT convergence goals, and further differentiate from existing standards initiatives to move the digital ecosystem needle.

In November, Huawei launched the Edge Computing Consortium (ECC) in coordination with the Shenyang Institute of Automation of Chinese Academy of Sciences, the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), Intel, ARM, and iSoftStone. The primary goal of the ECC is to develop a cooperative platform to advance openness and collaboration in the operational technology (OT) and information and communications technology (ICT) industries to stimulate adoption of digital transformation best practices. The ECC views OT, ICT, and operator communications input collaboration as essential in using digital transformation to drive a new phase of industrial restructuring. This restructuring entails automation of industrial processes and increasingly customized and personalized digital services and products. The lifecycle management of digital service operations and edge computing resources sets the groundwork for digital innovation, unleashing new value chains and supply chain efficiencies for ecosystem members.
So what does ECC need to do to succeed? A few things immediately come to mind:

• The ECC needs to expand operator membership, and soon. Without operator buy-in, the new consortium risks irrelevancy. Operators simply command the network resources, global customer footprints, and vertical industry ambitions required to expand the ECC’s industry-wide influence.

• The ECC should diversify its geographical diversity. With its headquarters in Beijing and high-profile Chinese participation at the onset, the ECC needs to avoid becoming perceived as a “Made In China/For China” entity.

• The ECC needs to identify the OT and ICT processes that require the most market attention and collaborative inputs to deepen digital transformation. Huawei and its partners need to provide use cases and real-world demonstrations of the ECC’s collaborative benefits.

• The ECC should immediately show how it isn’t a “me too” standards entity. From its inception, the ECC mission overlaps with existing standards initiatives such as the TM Forum’s Open Digital Ecosystem and the OpenFog Consortium. The ECC will do the digital ecosystem no favors by fragmenting the market in multiple directions in the pursuit of digital transformation standardization.

The ECC has its work cut out despite its good intentions. Without following through on the necessary early course corrections, the ECC risks becoming increasingly irrelevant – i.e., yet another standards-oriented organization in an already vast ocean of industry consortium and standards bodies.

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