Gaining a Competitive Edge with Multi-Access Edge Computing: What Service Providers Need to Know

August 6, 2018 Natasha Tamaskar

Speed = Distance / Time. This basic equation that we learnt in elementary school is increasingly playing a critical role in defining the strategies for communication service provides to ensure customer experience and launch new wireless services. As service providers continue to invest in 4G advanced and 5G networks, ensuring unprecedented speed and performance for consumer and enterprise applications is essential to grow revenue through competitive services.

Given the compute intensive nature of disruptive applications being rolled out (artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, connected cars, Industrial IoT, and many more), service providers need to move more and more compute closer to the subscribers and applications, creating a new relationship to centralized and distributed clouds. This new reality has driven a tremendous amount of creativity, development, industry collaboration and investment in Multi-access Edge Computing (or MEC, originally known as mobile edge computing).

The new mobile edge and overall MEC promises many benefits:

  • For subscribers, MEC reduces application latency and delivers a better user experience.
  • For developers, MEC provides a platform for dynamic service creation based on location and enables real-time machine to machine and machine to human communications which until now has been extremely difficult to deliver, particularly when ultra-low-latency is required to support solutions.
  • For mobile operators, MEC offers significant operational benefits, with opportunities to generate cost savings associated with backhaul, co-location with the C-RAN and reduced per-bit cost, relieving pressure on RAN networks while also enabling service delivery and the ability to provide premium services with edge-based service level agreements.

Striking a Right Balance between Distance (aka Edge Location) and Time (aka Compute Time) to ensure the Optimal Speed (aka Latency)

With 5G coming in and advancements made with LTE, the application latency requirements are becoming more and more critical. While the compute is moving closer to the edge, the fundamental question to answer is “How Close?”

The answer definitely depends on the workload requirements of the edge application use case, modularity of the wireless network, latency of the access network, and cost to deliver the service at the edge. There is no one size fit all implementation of MEC.

Based on the application profile – low latency (requiring ~10ms round trip time), very low latency (requiring ~5ms round trip time), and ultra-low latency (requiring ~1ms round trip time), MEC placement fits best at the cell site itself or at one of the different tiers of aggregation points between the cell-site and core network.

Radisys – Taking a Unique Lego Building Block Approach to Implement Optimal MEC Solution with Zero Vendor Lock-In

While communications service providers may have lost ground when trying to compete in the traditional world of cloud computing, they are in a unique and powerful position to now benefit as cloud computing gives way to edge computing, as they have the infrastructure and reach and “network economics” when they make the right moves with the right partners.

Radisys has supported edge computing since the early ETSI MEC days. Its involvement has widened with new solutions, and through its active participation in leading new initiatives and standardization efforts.

Radisys provides an Edge Computing platform software – built with open cloud architecture and Radisys Open RAN, software-defined broadband access, and P4-based data-plane software. Our MEC philosophy is to enable a Lego building-block approach, where our customers may have MEC applications that they’ve developed (such as AR/ VR), may have their own NFVi or MANO infrastructure that they want to leverage, may have preference to utilize open architecture such as Intel NEV and enhance it for their application needs, and may have RAN CU-DU split preferences and constraints.

Radisys provides an open platform and end-to-end multi-vendor software solution integration around these different MEC building blocks to implement the best approach – a unique approach that enables service providers to create customized differentiation.

Learn More on MEC Implementation Challenges, Deployment Choices, and Solutions in Our Latest Webinar “Getting to the Edge – Exploring 4G/5G Cloud-RAN Deployable Solutions” by Prakash Siva

Radisys is supporting our customers’ MEC strategy with our 5G RAN platform and we’ve publicly demonstrated our MEC proof-of-concept, based on open standards. The PoC demonstrated radio resource-optimized multi-media delivery at the edge, enabling front-haul and back-haul cost savings and edge compute optimization by leveraging the MEC platform for local break-out of high-bandwidth VoLTE, video and transcoding services.

The PoC also delivered real-time content overlay at the network edge, assuring ultra-low latency required to provide immersive experiences within high-bandwidth AR and VR applications.

In partnership with the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) and ecosystem partners earlier this year we demonstrated also how open telecom software and architectures are breaking vendor lock-in, accelerating time-to-market, and reducing risk.

There has never been a more important time in the technology and telecom industries to build collaborations and communities. Radisys has been a pioneer in leading-edge mobile innovations and open telecom initiatives such as CORD, TIP, xRAN, ONAP, ONF, and others to create an agile, flexible and cost-effective open RAN and MEC architecture, allowing mobile operators to meet the coming requirements of the multi-service edge.

We invite you to join our Open Business Accelerator and partner with us to accelerate global MEC deployments and create a competitive edge together.

About the Author

Natasha Tamaskar

Natasha heads corporate & product marketing and sales strategy for Radisys. Named last year as one of the Global Telecoms Business “50 Women to Watch,” Natasha brings nearly 20 years of telecom industry experience with particular expertise in product and corporate marketing, product strategy and business development for cloud, SDN/NFV, wireless and security solutions. Prior to Radisys, as the VP of Cloud Strategy, she was responsible for GENBAND's Kandy.io PaaS strategy and business development. Natasha also spearheaded and launched several of GENBAND’s key strategic solutions including Wireless Gateway, Network Security and WebRTC as the VP of Strategic Marketing. Natasha holds a Ph.D. in Computational Physics from the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University.

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