Many of the services that will be enhanced by edge computing involve a complex mixture of applications and providers. Smart cities, smart factories, connected vehicle services and others all require a large number of applications and stakeholders to work together in a seamless way. In some cases, this will be achieved by one of those stakeholders – a telco, a webscale provider, a vertical specialist – acting as the integrator, but the ultimate goal is to have open platforms that allow developers to deploy capabilities easily via application programming interfaces (APIs) or, increasingly, container-based microservices, which can be mixed and matched like Lego pieces.
MobiledgeX, a Silicon Valley organization spun out of Deutsche Telekom, is one of the players trying to build marketplace for edge resources and services, which will be both cloud-class and carrier-class, and will make it easy for all kinds of developers to work with telco edge clouds to support various use cases and improve business models.
The group is heavily focused on real world challenges and use cases, and on signing partners which have the experience and contacts to support implementation in a wide range of vertical ecosystems. An example is its relationship with World Wide Technology (WWT), and $11bn integrator which provides digital and supply chain solutions to large enterprises, and is the sole distributor for MobiledgeX’s platform-as-a-service and other offerings. It has just expanded this alliance to focus on simplifying the process of commercializing large-scale 5G edge services, reducing cost and time to market.
In MobiledgeX’s view, these 5G services will be delivered by applications running on MEC platforms, on a combination of nodes in customer premises and within the operator network. This highlights the shift that many players, even those with telecoms roots, are making away from an architecture that is heavily tied to operator sites, and takes a more heterogeneous approach – one where the operator will have far greater challenges to take pole position in the value chain.
To reduce time, cost and risk for deployers, MobiledgeX aims to provide a set of blueprints for integrated infrastructure solutions for industries, which will be validated in WWT’s Advanced Technology Center, a multivendor testing environment.
The first infrastructure blueprint has been produced, in collaboration with Dell EMC and VMware. Available at www.wwt.com, it runs on Dell 14G servers with Intel Cascade Lake 2 processors, Optane persistent memory and VMware Integrated Openstack. Additional blueprints will be available as they are validated in the ATC.
“Service providers across the globe are under intense pressure to deploy 5G infrastructure while ensuring they can monetize their 5G investment,” said Joe Wojtal, WWT’s CTO for global service providers. “WWT’s partnership with MobiledgeX will allow service providers to commercialize scalable MEC deployments via validated blueprints available from WWT’s global integration centers.”
MobiledgeX provides its cloud-native MEC platform-as-a-service (PaaS), which determines where customers need edge services and securely delivers them on-demand. Both the MEC infrastructure and validated customer premises equipment will be available from WWT’s three global integration centers in St. Louis, Amsterdam, and Singapore.
Distributed cloud and network will require backhaul rethink:
Operators will have to take a very different approach to backhaul as they move to a distributed 5G core, often combined with edge computing.
Mark Gilmour, VP of mobile connectivity solutions at fiber provider Colt Technology Service, pointed out that current backhaul traffic patterns are largely asymmetrical, with 80% of traffic flowing on the downlink from the core to the handset.
But 5G will require more symmetrical backhaul, not to mention high performance, low latency fiber for fronthaul links between the centralized RAN baseband and the cell sites or radio units.
Current backhaul is “fairly asymmetric in traffic. It’s almost like a point-to-point,” said Gilmour. But a virtualized and disaggregated core will allow elements of that core to be moved to the edge, which will drive more communication not just from core to edge, but also from edge to core, and from cell site to edge.