Colt teams with IBM to boost edge ambitions

U.K. fiber provider Colt Technology Services unveiled a new collaboration with IBM which aims to enable delivery of next-generation applications at the network edge.

Mark Hollman, Colt’s VP of partner development and success, told Fierce work will focus on proving Colt’s connectivity capabilities and universal customer premises equipment are compatible with IBM’s distributed Cloud Satellite offering and Application Manager. The ultimate goal is to use this combination of technology to deliver edge applications to customers, though Hollman said Colt isn’t aiming for any particular timeline to do so.

“Over the course of time what we have to look at is the distributed cloud environment because ultimately we know the applications aren’t just in the cloud, they’re in lots of different places, the edge being one,” Hollman said of its decision to partner with IBM. “Whilst we’ve seen huge growth in the cloud there are very specific needs for certain applications whereby they need low latency, they need to be close to where the data is being generated. And so really what we want to be able to do over the course of time is look at how we can connect customers up whether they have applications in the cloud or on the edge.”

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Colt currently has around 25,000 customers on a wholly-owned fiber network which covers approximately 29,000 enterprise buildings and more than 900 data centers. While the company’s collaboration with IBM will initially look at ways to deliver edge services to customers on its wireline network,  Hollman noted the pair will also explore where 5G fits in.

“You need your applications to work irrespective of the device they’re deployed on and where you are,” he said. “The use case in terms of what the performance requirements are for the applications are going to drive where it’s deployed and then the network technology that’s used to get there…IBM are bringing in this means of being able to orchestrate across that distributed environment.”

Hollman said Colt is still exploring a wide range of use cases. While it has yet to land on any particular offering, he noted the company has historically been very strong in the banking and financial sectors as well as healthcare and retail.

RELATED: Colt tees up proof-of-concept trials on new network edge nodes

This isn’t Colt’s first move on the edge: earlier this year the company launched network edge nodes in five cities and revealed proof-of-concept work on a variety of applications.