Just a few years ago, Lumen Technologies was another fiber based telecoms company – until they successfully transformed into a tech business driving innovation at the cutting Edge.
New technologies such as 5G, IoT, AI, and Edge are dramatically changing the telecoms landscape. But how are companies responding? Lumen Technologies is a business that has embraced the opportunity – refocusing its expertise, and helping enterprises around the globe to revolutionize their business with Edge-powered solutions.
In this episode of Accelerators, we hear from Chris McReynolds, Vice President of Product Management, Cloud, and Data Services at Lumen. He talks about why it makes sense to move digital interactions closer to the end-user, overcoming the challenges around the adoption of edge technology, and the importance of the partner ecosystem in addressing different market needs as the future of Edge unfolds.
“A tech company is a company who listens well to its customers and has great agility to stay ahead of their needs.”
Chris McReynolds, Vice President of Product Management, Cloud and Data Services, Lumen
Speaker 1: Accelerators from Beyond. Hello and welcome to Accelerators by Beyond. Join us as we speak with industry leaders and explore the big opportunities ahead in 5G, IoT, AI and cloud, and the role of the ecosystem. We discuss how to stay ahead, and what technologies innovation and business models are driving the industry to accelerate.
Jeremy Cowan: Hello and welcome to Accelerators by Beyond. My name is Jeremy Cowan, I'm editorial director and co-founder of iot-now.com and the VanillaPlus. And it's my pleasure to be one of your hosts today. As ever, my co-host is Michal Harris, head of marketing at Beyond by BearingPoint. Hi, Michal. Are you keeping well?
Michal Harris: Hi, Jeremy. Great to be here again.
Jeremy Cowan: Great to have you. Well, I think if people have been having holidays, certainly in the Northern hemisphere I know that it's the time, I guess most are back at work now and the tech world is positively humming with news. So Michal, do you want to tell everyone who our special guest is today?
Michal Harris: Oh, yes. So he's Chris McReynolds, and he's vice president of product management cloud and data services at Lumen Technologies. And we are going to be asking Chris all about the growing role of edge computing for enterprises. So Chris, welcome to the Accelerators Podcast by Beyond.
Chris McReynolds: Thanks Michal and thanks Jeremy. I'm excited to be here.
Jeremy Cowan: Well, it's great to have you. Chris, let's dive straight in because there's so much that we want to cover. For anyone who hasn't already come across Lumen Technologies. Who are you and what's the company's background? Can you fill us in on?
Chris McReynolds: Yeah. Absolutely. So Lumen is a relatively new company as far as name. We had rebranded a year and a half to two years ago, and we're really an amalgamation of a lot of different companies that have brought different strengths to what Lumen is today. And so we started as a fiber based telecom company and started to move into more IP services, CDN services, and security services. And we've actually built over the years a combination of a lot of different companies, the most connected internet network in the world. And then there was a strategic shift a number of years ago when we had acquired Savvis. And what Savvis brought was a very strong data center business, a strong cloud infrastructure and managed service capabilities that were more up the stack into application management.
And that combined with the networking strength of the company, we've merged these two over the past handful of years. And when you talk about IoT and when you talk about new edge trends, we realized that the combination of our compute and infrastructure knowledges, the distribution of the locations in our network where we can host applications is really unique and positioned as well to be a prominent player in the edge space. So that's where our focus has been the past couple of years.
Jeremy Cowan: Well, you got straight to the point that I really think we want to focus on today. As Lumen, you took a strategic decision to focus on edge solutions. Can you share a bit about your vision for edge and tell us about the company's role in providing these edge solutions?
Chris McReynolds: Yeah. Definitely. It's an emerging market, and I know we're going to talk about that later. There's a lot of undefined use cases and some of the use cases are early days. So we came at it from a standpoint of we want to move digital interactions closer to end users where it makes sense. And for some applications, you don't need to be that close to the end user for a good performance, so we kind of break the world into, we'll call it core, where the computing is relatively centralized, really high scale, you get high efficiencies, cost economies. We have what we define, which is really where a lot of our investment has gone in the past two years of a metro edge. So if you take North America, we have 45 locations deployed, we're within five milliseconds of 97% of enterprises. If you take Europe, we're deploying six locations now, we have a bunch more on the roadmap, but the intent is to get to within five milliseconds of latency for the majority of end users. And that's what's new in the market from my perspective.
And then the third place is on premise. So if you're a manufacturing facility, you might want that compute and infrastructure to be in the manufacturing facility. So when we say edge, it's obviously not the core portion we just talked about, but metro edge where you can serve many users in a city or a state or a small country, and then on prem is true edge. So that's how we define edge. When you talk about our strategic decision to focus on edge solutions and the role, we came at it from a perspective of we need to build composable services.
We need to build a platform that allows either end-customers to assemble the different components to build new services. It could be combinations of network or compute, could be security wrappers around it, DDoS to ensure that the applications aren't taken down by denial of service. And that's the foundation of what we're building. On top of that, we know that not everyone is capable, not everyone wants to do a lot of the building, the management, the migration of these applications, figuring out the right locations to host them. So the platform is the foundation. You hear Lumen talk about the platform for amazing things. That's the basis of all of it. But some companies and some people need help. So we have some service wrappers, professional services to help customers leverage the platform for amazing things to build the services and capabilities they want for either their businesses or for their consumers and end users.
Jeremy Cowan: You talked about one of the threats in DDoS, but what are the broader challenges that are facing edge deployments right now? Is it high level use cases? Or getting past proof of concept stage? Is it about setting the right execution venue? Or something else that we haven't touched on yet?
Yeah. That's a great question. I think there are different maturities in different industry verticals. There are different maturities in large versus small companies. This may sound like an evasive answer, but it's a little bit all of the above. So as an example, I think the use cases are probably most well-defined with respect to IoT and manufacturing and retail. There were others out there for sure, logistics. But I think those are where we're seeing the most mature initial use cases. So use cases are set there, but for a lot of the other verticals, we talk with healthcare a lot and everyone believes there's something there. We talk with media and entertainment and everyone believes there's something there, but it's emerging. I think people are finding their way as to what the right use case is and some of the other verticals.
When you talk about proof of concepts, absolutely. I think larger, more mature companies, the ones that we see that have the skillset, have the funding and the ability to focus on building some of these proof of concepts to prove the value, but even big companies that have focused on these initiatives get distracted. Things come up in deployment that make it difficult to prove the value. An example would be if you're a retail store, it's not that you just put an application on a piece of compute in a retail store or on the metro edge, for example. It could be video analytics. And so you need the video cameras, you need those connected back if it's private wireless bringing those back to the network. You need ISP or third-party software applications that do some of the detection and the analytics of the video.
So it's a lot of different elements from a lot of different providers that need to be integrated to move that proof of concept along. And that's difficult for any one company to do, which is why they look to system integrators to help assemble these pieces to show that proof of value. And then you also touched on the right execution venue. I think this one's interesting to me because I think it's going to be a bit of a moving target. And you'll probably hear me talk about retail a lot in this podcast. And it's probably because I've seen the most opportunities and it's one of the most mature, but you can envision that video analytics use case, ideally you would be hosting that on a metro edge and 10 to 20 or 30 retail locations in a market can all connect to the same application, hosted in a metro edge or a market.
And that's efficient. It's efficient from a cost and compute standpoint. It's efficient from you have less infrastructure to manage. So it's operationally more efficient. But the pause we see in the market is really around do people have enough confidence in the network connectivity from these metro edge locations to the actual retail stores? And I think what we're seeing is a lot of people, even in retail, where it may not be the most mission critical applications are tending to want to start on premise with the desire to eventually have a fail over scenario back to the metro edge. And then if they get more comfort and they build confidence in the availability of those applications hosted on the metro edge, I think you'll start to see those pull back more to the metro edge. So the best execution venue today I actually don't think becomes the best execution venue tomorrow for a lot of use cases. But there's pause, there's maturity and there's not a ton of confidence until things are proven out a bit more.
Michal Harris: So Chris, that was very interesting what you just shared. And maybe to continue On that and to develop it a little bit further. There's a lot of buzz in the market related to edge and how mature is edge and what still needs to happen for it to become a mainstream?
Chris McReynolds: Yeah. It's a good point. There is a lot of buzz and has been for a couple of years with respect to edge. And there are pockets where I definitely see that it's real. We had talked about the retail use case, but even that's a bit of an emerging one. I think when you look to manufacturing and logistics and you look at the optimization of manufacturing lines, it's really important that they detect anomalies quickly so that they don't waste a lot of raw material. And so you'll have cameras on chip production lines and if there's a little shift of millimeters or maybe even microns, they'll be able to detect that early and prevent the line from producing a lot of bad product. Those are on prem deployments. We also see those on prem deployments a bit with logistics, warehousing, inventory, management, those types of aspects, whether it's stocking the actual shelves or detecting when there's a low amount of a certain product and knowing that you need to order more or produce more. So those are real ones.
When you get into things like healthcare, media and entertainment's another one. Those are less mature. And I think people are still searching for the use cases there. When you talk about the metro or market edge as we've defined it, there are some very real use cases. Even though I was talking about how in retail and maybe some other enterprises there were some caution from taking applications that are on prem today, moving them to a market edge. There are some early adopters in this space, for sure. And it makes sense. Gaming is one where the gamers really care about the latency of their network and the performance. There's a lot of multiplayer games and they really want to beat their friends in these games. So anything they can do to get the application performing better closer to end users makes the experience better for the gamers. So that's definitely one.
Content delivery networks is another one where, again, information that is consumed a lot of times by end users, it's best to host that information or video or TV show close to the end users. So hosting those on an edge platform is another use case we've seen. And then beyond that, I think we have a lot of history in our company of networking capabilities and security capabilities and how those services are delivered is evolving. It used to be that you would buy a device for your retail store or your enterprise location that would do networking. You would buy another device and plug it into that device to do security capabilities. What's happening with the trend that a lot of different people dub as SaaS-y, it's really the integration of security capabilities and network control plane management. And in simple terms, it just means when information is from different users, you're trying to access applications, it's ensuring that you pick the right connection, you pick the right path to give as good a performance and cost efficiency as you can get.
Now the architectural shift I had mentioned is those used to be on premise in different boxes. And what's happening are these applications are getting consolidated and run in more of a multi-tenant fashion, but they need to be close to the end users because these control plane decisions need to be quick for the performance to be good. So another early adopter we're seeing are SD-WAN vendors. And as they evolve their applications into more of a SaaS-y model and integrate security, a lot of those companies are seeing value in the edge distribution that Lumen has globally, as well as the network connectivity to public clouds and end user locations. Now what does it take for it to go mainstream is the places where you're seeing it be adopted early are pretty technically sophisticated and savvy companies.
So gaming companies are do-it-yourself. They write their software stack, they want to control that experience themselves. When you look at those security and networking SaaS-y type company, SD-WAN type companies, I mentioned, same thing. They're almost integrate to the kernel, the processor, all the way up the stack themselves. So very savvy, sophisticated customers. When you get outside of those verticals, you quickly see that people are uncomfortable don't have the technical acumen to understand where to host these applications and how to integrate under these different platforms. So I think for it to become mainstream, we're going to need to see more repeatable use cases. We talked about that a little bit. More technical reference architectures that help people understand the right way to put these pieces together. And just a broader set of system integrator skillset around putting these IoT use cases together because many enterprises are not going to have the desire, even if they have the skillset, to integrate and build all of these solutions themselves.
Jeremy Cowan: Chris, you've talked a little bit about the role of the system integrator. Could you tell us a bit more about the wider dynamics in the partner ecosystems that you're building? I mean, who are your partners and what are the relationships between them?
Chris McReynolds: Yeah. That's a great question. There've been a lot of announcements from Lumen the past couple of years. And if you look at them from the outside, I can almost see how they might seem fragmented. You have an announcement with a wireless carrier T-Mobile, then you have an announcement with a virtualization and container management company like Tanzu, and then we have another announcement with a system integrator like IBM, and then one around Azure that talks about integrating their PaaS into our platform. So they each solve a different need for Lumen to help meet the customer's needs for the solutions they're trying to build. So when I think about Microsoft and IBM, they build PaaS platforms, they build a lot of AI machine learning analytics. You think about Watson and you think about Microsoft's great capabilities in that space. That's something that Lumen is never going to develop ourselves. It's just not core to who we are.
Our core differentiators, our network connectivity, our distributed compute platform, and the people that help people implement and manage some of these solutions. So from Microsoft, we're focused on deploying Azure Stack HCI, which is Azure, but in a distributed fashion on our edge platform. And for IBM, we've been focused in working on cloud satellite, which is similar. It's their cloud extended to different locations. And for us, we're certifying that to run on the edge platform that we have. So I think there's a couple of different paths to market there for us as well that is really important. Some of these conversations for IoT use cases are led by Microsoft. They're led by IBM and they're not going to be led by Lumen. And that's an okay thing. I think where the use case needs the distributed compute platform that we have and the connectivity to the end users, Microsoft now has a path to deploy their software, their PaaS environment onto the Lumen edge platform.
Same for IBM. Cloud satellite will be deployed on our edge platform to meet a lot of different use cases that they've defined that they're selling to end customers and that they're integrating on the customer's behalf. So that's one path to monetization. Another is we also co-sell. We have relationships with accounts that they don't, and it's really a better together conversation with those customers and with Microsoft and IBM. When I think about VMware and NetApp, VMware is an interesting one because we're co-developing a lot with VMware, and they have a very strong enterprise base. They have a lot of customers that have these big on-prem deployments. And as those customers, they've been in the market a long time, they've been very successful, as those customers look at their applications, they look at refactoring some of those and they're going to naturally migrate either to public clouds or to a more distributed edge compute depending on what the application is.
So our platform, our ability to manage our edge platform, but also public clouds. We haven't talked about it much, but we have an orchestrator platform that allows customers to deploy applications across public clouds and our cloud and their own clouds, like a VMware cloud. That multi-cloud aspect that we bring is really additive to what VMware is building. So as the customers are migrating the applications, we can help them determine which execution venue is the right place to land it and give them a consistent orchestration across public clouds in our cloud. So the VMware partnership has been exciting so far.
Jeremy Cowan: That multi-cloud aspect sounds really interesting and sounds original. I haven't heard about much on that elsewhere, is that unique to Lumen?
Chris McReynolds: I think how we're integrating it is unique to Lumen. There are some cloud management platforms out there, and we did not build this capability 100% ourselves, for sure. There are some cloud management platforms that are pretty good at managing across AWS and Azure and Google and IBM, but they kind of stopped there. So they don't integrate with any of the edge platforms yet and they sometimes integrate with on-premise deployments. What we've done is taken those cloud management platforms and the Lumen cloud that we're building, this edge cloud, this on-premise Lumen edge gateway platform that we have, we're integrating that into the cloud management platform orchestrators, so that you really get different execution venues from public clouds to edge, to the on-premise of the edge. And it is pretty unique in the market.
That integration, I think, has been something that has resonated with customers, even though, and I think maybe because they don't know where the application should live long-term. If you give them the flexibility to decide in the future to move it to a different environment and the ability to have visibility into the applications across those different environments, it's been something that has resonated incredibly well with our customers. It's kind of future-proofing the fact that they don't know how this whole landscape is going to evolve over time.
Michal Harris: Chris, if I can continue on this, you mentioned a very interesting point of co-creation. Basically, working with partners and you are co-creating things, like you mentioned Azure, you mentioned the cloud providers and more. And this is a trend we see that many players like them and are trying to move from this linear relationship between vendors and providers to a co-creation within ecosystem. Do you see this co-creation happening with your customers as well?
Chris McReynolds: We do. One of the sets of customers I had talked about, and VMware fits in this bucket as well, were those SD-WAN vendors. And when we talk with those customers, they don't quite... I mean, I guess it takes some time to understand the different capabilities we can bring to bear. So an example would be if it's one of these SaaS-y/SD-WAN companies and they're building these edge controllers, we've built dynamic networking capabilities to all of the key public cloud providers. We have things that improve the performance. And when I was talking network control plan earlier, picking the best path for end user reaching application. And if people are hosting a bunch in public clouds, which they certainly are, you're going to want the most direct path from that edge gateway way or where that controller decision-maker is to those public clouds. And we can create those connections in real time.
So if they have an event and they're pulling a lot of information from a particular public cloud region, we can create and expand the network connectivity to that location. So that's an example of where we can automate components of the network. They're trying to optimize end user connecting to application, and the two of these elements can get integrated to where the decision-making doesn't have to live in this static world. It can be more dynamic, both from the network side as well as application and traffic optimization, so to speak.
So a little in the weeds on the technical side there, but a hundred percent agree that there are very few companies, I think, is complex is the ecosystem is for building these different solutions that will be vertically integrated and able to do it themselves. There are some other big telecom providers trying to make this transition. Name any of them that might have this approach, but some companies really are taking a fully vertically integrated approach. And it's going to be challenging, I think. I think you need to take the best and breed across some different capabilities and be able to assemble them to be successful.
Michal Harris: Okay. And maybe some other angle with regard to edge. Edge is quite often mentioned together with 5G and IoT. Can you share your thoughts about this?
Chris McReynolds: Yeah. I think it has won the marketing conversation. When I think of 5G, it is important for some use cases. I truly believe that. But there are a bunch of use cases where it's not really important or maybe said differently. It's a private wireless deployment that's more of a campus environment. So when I had mentioned gaming, yeah, it could be the gamers or have their devices connected to a 5G network at the edge or just a 5G network. But it's just another internet access network to those end users. I think the value we're seeing for the gaming companies isn't based on a 5G anything per se, it's can you host my gaming application close to my end users? They may be on broadband at home, they may be playing in their office on the office connection, or they may be on a wireless network. It doesn't really matter as long as we can move those gaming applications closer to end users.
Where I do think there are strong plays for wireless. If you think of a stadium where you have tons of users, it makes sense to build a private wireless network for those users and pull all of that traffic back to different applications posted close to the edge. And I didn't touch on the T-Mobile or the Dish partnerships that we have, but that's why we partnered up with them. Lumen has no aspiration to be a big global nationwide 5G network provider, but for certain use cases, the ability to deploy those local private network, it's really important for some of the IoT use cases. So I think public 5G is blown out of proportion. I think wireless access, if you think about that video analytics, you have a bunch of cameras you need to connect, and WiFi doesn't scale very well. That's where private LTE today, private 5G tomorrow come into play. And that's where our partnerships with T-Mobile and Dish help us fill that gap in the solution set.
Jeremy Cowan: Chris, Lumen was created, as you suggested earlier, as a tech company. And many communication providers are now looking to become tech co’s themselves. So what does it mean to be a tech company? What had to change for Lumen to transform itself from the CenturyLink days?
Chris McReynolds: Yeah. There's a lot to that question. I love that question. To me, a tech company is a company that listens well to its customers and has great agility because the landscape is changing so quickly today that you need to be agile to stay ahead of customer's needs or even keep up with customer's needs, to be honest. What telecom was, if you go back 10, 15 years, maybe even five years, if I'm honest, was turn up a service and it stays there for three years and if anything breaks they call you and you go fix it. Very, very different business models. So when you think of the cultural shift of how the people have worked in a company, I would argue that's the hardest. When you think about the technology shift, again, you're building products and services in a very different way. They're not individual services anymore. You're building a platform where these services need to integrate with each other.
And so it's not a linear path for an individual service. It's hard to get a lot of people to understand... I mean, you can look at companies that have done it well. The cloud providers do it very well. A lot of different capabilities, you can connect, integrate these different capabilities. That's something that just takes some time for people to learn and understand. And some other things I've just found interesting are things that I wouldn't have thought of really on the front end, but things like sales compensation. It was really straightforward and easy. If you sell a circuit, that's a thousand dollars a month for three years, you know you're getting a thousand dollars a month for three years and you can compensate the sales appropriately.
When you think about building a platform where customers come in, get entitlement to consume and use services, you still need... At least where we are in our maturity, a lot of the conversations are still sales led, and you need to find a way to incent them to sell these usage-based, consumption-based services versus the more traditional things that they know and they understand how they get compensated on. So it's something seemingly simple like that that can prove pretty challenging. Some other interesting examples, I think, are how you market and how you pull customers through to be users of the platform. Again, old world, you would do marketing outreach, you would talk about specific products, you would get a lead, you would give it to a salesperson, they would call them and go talk to them, they would sell to the procurement people that would try and get a better price.
When I looked to where we're moving now, you're targeting different people. So you still have to do that top of funnel digital outreach. You need people to come in and be aware of the capabilities you have, but conversion can happen in a very different way. If you have really strong knowledge base, KB articles on how to use the platform, technical architectures, you need customer references. If you don't have a sales person going in and saying, "Lumen is great. We have credibility." You need examples for customers to come in and see other people are using your platform. So customer references, customer examples of real-world use cases and outcomes. All of these things are critical to pull users onto the platform. Trials, proof of concept, try before you actually purchase, 90 day free trials, or you get X thousand dollars of free consumption on the platform.
All of these things are different than how Lumen would've operated five years ago. So it's so many different elements and each time we clear through another hurdle you find another one and you're like, "Wow. It's just really different. I hadn't thought of that as a problem." So there's a structure, there's a way things have been done. And there's certainly an openness by a lot of people at Lumen to make these changes, but you kind of uncover them along the way and just have to chip away at transforming. If you're net new, I don't think you have a lot of these challenges to overcome. I think transforming might actually be harder than starting new.
Michal Harris: So Chris, can we stay for a minute with your customer? So how is it different for them, what they can get from Lumen the tech company that they couldn't get from CenturyLink, for example?
Chris McReynolds: Yeah. I think the biggest is how the services are built and consumed. Like we said, traditionally, we would go talk to them, sell them things and deliver it and then try and make sure it works. Now there's a more comprehensive set of services that are more flexible and can be put together in so many different ways. So I think customers are thrilled with the flexibility they have. I would also contend customers sometimes get overwhelmed with the flexibility they have. They get scared sometimes around cost management. The traditional telecom services were very predictable, but not flexible. The new services we're building are flexible, but if they have some users that set some strange configurations they can get a bill that surprises them at the end of the month. So we're trying to give better visibility and predictability to the customers around the cost side of things.
And the other aspect I'd say is when you're selling just network services, it does what it does, we're not involved in the application's performance and the stack above the actual network. As we built out more of these cloud services and ever since, really, the Savvis acquisition, you have to bring some people, some knowledge, some troubleshooting that is no longer, yes, the network works or the network doesn't. Now we're getting into the application isn't performing well because it looks like you are routing to this cloud region that's really far away and you should be going to this cloud region. Maybe not the best example, but they're getting more comprehensive outcome troubleshooting from Lumen versus the previous business. It was just simpler in all honesty.
Jeremy Cowan: I guess that being a tech company no longer just means a shift within Lumen, but presumably it must mean some kind of shift in the nature of the organizations you're selling to. How have you seen that change?
Chris McReynolds: Yeah. I hit who we used to sell to and that one was pretty straightforward. It was procurement and you would go in and they would turn you into a punching bag and eventually you'd get to a price that both parties agreed to. It is truly different now. I think maybe middle ground is IT infrastructure. So these are people that are procuring infrastructure, compute storage, did serve the needs of lots of developers and they kind of had a standard model of what they want. That is kind of halfway between where we're going and where we were with the procurement people. Where we're wanting to go and seeing some success is more of the developer persona. I mean, the way IT development has shifted to more DevOps teams, it used to be that the IT infrastructure people would create a bunch of infrastructure and standards and the developers have to go to them and say, "I need five servers to create a test environment." And then they could take them down.
The shift in how development is done with DevOps teams where they more fully own their environments, the support of those environments, the development of the applications, the performance on those environments has made the developer persona on those DevOps teams, the more likely consumer of the platform we're building. And they don't often want to talk to salespeople. They want to be able to go in and try it, they want to be able to have forums and communities where they can ask other people using the platform how to get around challenges or issues that they're seeing, or honestly not reinvent the wheel. There’s a lot of smart developers, a lot of open source out there. So creating that kind of environment around the platform is something that takes time and is, again, a very different persona you're trying to reach with a very different style and type of interaction that they want.
Michal Harris: So Chris, as we getting closer to the end of this podcast, do you have any recommendation for companies that are looking to embrace edge either to sell or to buy services, solutions?
Chris McReynolds: I do. What I have seen most often is a lack of clarity from companies is to what truly they're trying to optimize around. What's their key objective. There are usually cost performance and availability trade-offs, and that can drive the right execution venue for applications. But what we see is that people aren't sure of what's most important to them. They probably want all of them, but at the end of the day that's usually not how it works. So if you're all about cost efficiency, if I pick on the retail video use case, again, we have some that are willing to talk about hosting point of sale applications on a market edge. Or the video analytics, like theft prevention could be hosted in these metro locations. And they're okay if one store's network goes down, they don't have the theft prevention video analytics going, but it's still in the other 20.
That is way more cost-effective than hosting that application at 30 retail stores in a market. If you look more at a manufacturing or logistics is probably a better example. If you have 50 distribution and sorting centers in an area, and you're using an application to manage the forklifts and stocking of the shelves or the sorting lines to put boxes into trucks to ship them, that really can't go down. And so they're more focused on availability than they are on the cost-effectiveness side. So that tends to push more to on-premise. I use those examples because I think it's really important that customers understand what's most important to them across those dimensions, and then they can work with partners to help them understand the right execution venue to meet those outcomes that they're looking for.
Jeremy Cowan: Chris, finally, applications like retail or finance and banking seem to be quite often mentioned as likely to benefit from next generation edge architecture. You're so much closer to this than most industry observers, which applications do you think will benefit in the next generation?
Chris McReynolds: Yeah. I've talked about retail plenty, so I'll pivot to finance and banking. Retail makes a lot of sense to me because they have a lot of embedded applications, like point of sale applications, inventory management applications. And emerging applications, like video analytics. The same could be said for finance and banking. They have many, many distributed locations, they have a lot of legacy applications, whether it's ATMs, whether it's the applications they're running on the banking side, all of these things or a lot of those run on premise. So there's a benefit to consolidating those to on-premise applications. And there's a benefit for those that are not super mission critical to be hosted back from a metro edge, from an efficiency standpoint. So I think the widely distributed verticals that have a lot of locations from a geographic perspective that are spread out, those are the ones where you're seeing early opportunity.
I think forward-looking, we're going to see more things like gaming. We're going to see things where new business models, new experiences will be opened up by being able to host those applications closer to end users. Video reality, augmented reality, these types of things that need a lot of bandwidth and a lot of compute and performance, we're going to see more applications like those that get distributed to market edge over time as well. And I also think there's a million that I have never thought of and probably never will think of that other smart people will.
Jeremy Cowan: Chris, I really want to thank you for sharing your time and experience with us and with our listeners. I can't speak for our audience, but I know I have learned a lot from today. Sadly, this time it always goes too quickly. Chris, thank you so much for sharing your expertise.
Chris McReynolds: I appreciated it. I had a great time. Thank you.
Jeremy Cowan: And thank you too, ladies and gentlemen for joining us around the world. Until the next Accelerators Podcast by Beyond, it's bye from me, Jeremy Cowan.
Michal Harris: And bye from me, Michal Harris.
Chris McReynolds: And bye from me, Chris McReynolds.
Speaker 1: Accelerators From Beyond.