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16 March 2020

Anevia and Kontron partner to bring edge-based CDN to the cabinet

Video processing vendor Anevia and cloud infrastructure provider Kontron may seem like unlikely bedfellows, but they have pooled resources to create a robust edge caching product purpose-built for reducing video traffic in the core network.

This highlights the growing importance of edge compute in the video delivery ecosystem, and the challenges are particularly high when the medium is mobile.

France-based Anevia is pushing for disruption, hoping to be instrumental in the world’s first operator-deployed edge cache server in a street cabinet, and to claim another world first by integrating splicing at the edge for dynamic ad insertion. The latter will arrive with version 5.3 of Anevia’s flagship NEA-CDN technology, according to CTO Damien Lucas.

The partnership sees NEA-CDN running on ME1100 mobile edge computing servers – compact enough to fit into street cabinets and so get as close as possible to end users -from Germany’s Kontron. The joint platform runs version 5 of NEA-CDN – providing operators with a centrally orchestrated and elastic content delivery network (CDN) infrastructure.

Kontron’s ME1100 series makes it easier for MNOs looking to unlock cloud computing capabilities within the RAN, or enable bandwidth-demanding applications such as AI, data caching or ultra-low latency, said Lucas.

“It would have been impossible to launch this edge product using previous versions of NEA-CDN,” he said. “Kubernetes has allowed for virtualized infrastructure while with version 4 you had to configure each node separately. With version 5, operators can have a fully centralized management system.”

Operators, cablecos, broadcasters and over-the-top service providers are listed as the potential customers. The distributed infrastructure and locations of cable operators and MNOs make these particularly good targets, with Anevia envisaging the placement of video cache servers in the cell towers (though very few MNOs currently believe such a dispersed edge will be necessary for video – BT/EE, for instance, thinks equipping about six central offices would suffice for the UK).

Anevia released the fifth version of its cloud-native NEA-CDN last July. NEA-CDN 5 boast of being capable of reducing or even eliminating the need for capacity planning and allowing operators to add their own CDN to existing network infrastructure. Network load is lowered by caching user requests and content to protect origin servers from multiple requests.

At the network edge, NEA-CDN is more predictive in nature. Lucas said that edge caching servers (whether HP, Dell or Kontron) can deliver hundreds of thousands of sessions, which is equivalent to the workload of multiple centralized cache servers, with better responsiveness and lower cost.

Cable operators are looking to use a combination of cable (access and small cell backhaul), WiFi and cellular to deploy local, neutral host or private networks in locations where there is real revenue potential. The differentiator for cablecos in the future will be their control of the local core and the edge computing node.

Mobile operators meanwhile have the inbuilt advantage of many locations in which edge data centers can be sited, plus connectivity. Cablecos are keeping pace though, working hard to develop their capabilities in converged core and edge – which in future, could stand them in good stead to move up the stack and take on functions such as orchestration and slicing across many networks and clouds, private or public.