Kathy Gibson reports from VMware Explore – An often-overlooked but incredibly important area of IT endeavour, the edge, is gaining importance as the place where a lot of compute action is taking place.

VMware’s concept of the software-defined edge is a distributed digital infrastructure for running workloads.

A lot of modernisation has gone into the core infrastructure, with data centres being right-sized, with features like zero-touch orchestration and network programmability.

At VMware Explore this week, VMware announced new solutions and expanded partnerships to help customers accelerate their digital transformation at the edge.

Building upon the recently introduced VMware Software-Defined Edge, these innovations and new integrations will help customers to simplify, better secure, and modernize their edge environments, and include:

* New VMware Edge Cloud Orchestrator telemetry capabilities for better visibility of edge workloads.

* Introduction of Intelligent Assist for the VMware Software-Defined Edge to simplify the operational experience across multiple stakeholders.

* An expanded collaboration to enable VMware SASE customers to use Microsoft Security Copilot.

* New Workflow Hub for VMware Telco Cloud Automation to support the rapid rollout of cell sites.

* Initial integration with Symantec to better secure the software-defined edge.

VMware defines the software-defined edge as distributed digital infrastructure for running workloads across a number of locations, close to endpoints that are producing or consuming data. It extends to where the users and devices are – in the office, on the road, in a cell site, or on the factory floor. VMware addresses all three layers of the software-defined edge: the top edge compute layer which hosts the applications and workloads; the intelligent overlay where SD-WAN and security services run; and the underlay network layer, which runs the software for network connectivity across fixed and 5G networks to provide orchestration and network programmability.

“The introduction of the VMware Software-Defined Edge has resonated with both enterprises and Communication Service Providers,” says Sanjay Uppal, senior vice-president and GM: service provider and edge at VMware. “It provides the right-sized compute footprint, the zero-touch orchestration and the network programmability architecture needed to run a variety of edge workloads.

“We see a proliferation of the software-defined edge at edge locations ranging from Telco 5G cell sites, smart factory floors, energy substations, retail 2.0 stores to branch offices across all distributed enterprises. We are helping customers across all four phases of deployment: edge telemetry being the first step, and then workload consolidation, support for edge AI apps leading to real-time applications on the smart factory floor.

“We deliver on these use cases by incorporating generative AI, enhanced security and advanced automation across our software-defined edge portfolio.”

To further operationalise edge workloads, VMware today announced new VMware Edge Cloud Orchestrator telemetry capabilities to provide insight and visibility into edge workloads, identify end devices, and make available contextual information across workload, compute, and network to accelerate problem resolution.

Originally introduced at VMware Explore Las Vegas, VMware Edge Cloud Orchestrator will provide unified management for VMware SASE and the VMware Edge Compute Stack, that bridges the gap between edge networking and edge compute.

Edge computing is going mainstream as enterprise application deployments accelerate at the edge. But as enterprises and service providers transform their edge environments, they can expect several challenges: edges that are too complex with Internet of Thing (IoT) devices, edge-native applications, users and infrastructure; tool proliferation leading to fragmented insights; and gaps in budget, staff and skillset that lead to poor operational experience.

To help customers and partners address those challenges, VMware is unveiling Intelligent Assist for VMware Software-Defined Edge to operationalize connecting, securing, and managing workloads, users and IoT devices at the edge.

Based on generative artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, the solution is expected to extend the power of VMware Edge Intelligence (formerly VMware Edge Network Intelligence) to accelerate automation, shrink the skillset gap, and speed up resolution.

Beyond operations, VMware will further help customers incorporate generative AI technology into their software-defined edge architectures. VMware has joined the Microsoft Security Copilot partner private preview.

Microsoft Security Copilot is a gen AI-based tool that helps customers to quickly detect and respond to threats and better understand the threat landscape overall.

VMware and Microsoft will collaborate to offer VMware SASE customers the option to share insights from their SASE deployment with Microsoft Security Copilot. VMware’s participation in the Microsoft Security Copilot partner private preview will help to augment the security events the tool learns from to include network perimeter security information.

This week, VMware also announced VMware Telco Cloud Automation 3.0 featuring the general availability of Workflow Hub. Using a newly developed, no-code framework, Workflow Hub enables Communications Service Providers (CSPs) to easily define repeatable workflows and scale them out across their network so that they can save time, monitor and troubleshoot progress and reduce operating expenses.

When it comes to the provisioning and deployment of RAN sites, for example, Workflow Hub allows an operator to quickly stitch together pre-built templates and tap into to third-party tools to construct an executable and repeatable workflow for cell sites. With Workflow Hub, an operator can then rapidly roll out new cell sites in a few hours–saving time, operating costs, and facilitating a complete network deployment at scale.

To deliver consistent security across all edge locations, applications, users, and devices, VMware has announced initial integration with Broadcom’s Symantec. VMware has extended its Security Service Edge (SSE) orchestration integration to include Symantec Cloud Secure Web Gateway (SWG) (formerly Web Security Service).

With this new integration and planned evolution, VMware expects to deliver an additional single-vendor SASE option with additional best-in-class networking and security capabilities.