PUBLISHER: Mind Commerce | PRODUCT CODE: 1076040
PUBLISHER: Mind Commerce | PRODUCT CODE: 1076040
This mobile edge computing market report evaluates the telecom and IT ecosystem in support of communications and computing infrastructure providers, managed services vendors, carriers, and OTT providers. This edge computing market analysis includes a focus on company strategies and offerings relative to current and anticipated future market needs. The report also provides quantitative analysis of the MEC market including segmentation by industry vertical, region of the world, application, and services. It also provides forecasts for MEC-based streaming data and real-time data analytics.
Often used synonymously, MEC refers to Mobile Edge Computing or Multi-Access Edge Computing with the former being more cellular network-centric (LTE and 5G) and the latter terminology adopted by standards groups to generalize edge computing to reflect that it may be also be used by WiFi and other wireless access technologies. The distinction between Multi-Access Edge Computing vs. Mobile Edge Computing for MEC largely ends with radio access and network type as almost every other aspect is the same including localizing computing (e.g. computation and storage closer to the end-user), network element virtualization, software, and service-centric operations.
In cellular networks, edge computing via MEC is beneficial for LTE but virtually essential for 5G. This is because Mobile Edge Computing facilitates optimization of fifth generation network resources including focusing communications and computational capacity where it is needed the most. The author's research findings indicate a strong relationship between edge computing and 5G. In fact, if it were not for MEC, 5G would continue to rely upon back-haul to centralized cloud resources for storage and computing, diminishing much of the otherwise positive impact of latency reduction enabled by 5G.
Another driver for the multi-access edge computing market is that MEC will facilitate an entirely new class of low-power devices for IoT networks and systems. These devices will rely upon MEC equipment for processing. Stated differently, some IoT devices will be very lightweight computationally speaking, relying upon edge computing nodes for most of their computation needs.
The fundamental question often asked by those not close to telecom networks and application optimization is: What is driving the need for edge computing in data centers? There are many reasons. However, the core areas for improvement with mobile edge computing are: throughput, congestion, latency, and backhaul. Additional important considerations that spawn from these improvements are as follows:
Despite all of the aforementioned advantages of deploying distributed computing and mini-datacenters, there is at least one important concern - cybersecurity. With mobile edge computing, security becomes a problem as there is now another point of attack with edge hardware and software. However, the aforementioned advantages provide ample rationale to move forward for carriers and data center providers alike.
Weighing the advantages vs. the challenges, the multi-access edge computing market will clearly be an enabler of 5G apps and services including improved mobile broadband (ultra-fast and high definition video, enhanced web browsing, etc.), Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC) dependent apps (virtual reality, UAV operation, autonomous vehicles, robotics, etc.), and massive expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT).
In terms of IoT, one of the key drivers for the multi-access edge computing market is that MEC will facilitate an entirely new class of low-power devices for IoT networks and systems. These devices will rely upon MEC equipment for processing. Stated differently, some IoT devices will be very lightweight computationally speaking, relying upon edge computing nodes for most of their computation needs.
As the author has stated in the past, the primary standards body for MEC standardization is the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), which has done much to move edge computing in mobile/wireless networks forward. For example, their "MEC in 5G Networks", First Edition document identifies mobile edge computing deployment scenarios among other topics.
ETSI identifies four physical areas for MEC deployment as follows:
This ETSI document was authored by representatives from leading ICT companies including Huawei, HPE, Telefonica, ZTE, Viavi Solutions, Saguna, ETRI, Nokia, Vodafone, Quortus, Interdigital, Intel, TIM, and ITRI. Additional MEC deployment-related items covered include mobile edge computing architecture relative to 5G networks and systems as well as MEC use case scenarios.
An additional industry group that also has an impact on edge computing is the Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center (CORD) supported by AT&T, China Unicom, NTT Communications, SK Telecom, and Verizon. CORD has identified a few potential points of deployment for mobile edge computing platforms including enterprise sites, hub sites, cloud RAN sites, pre-aggregation sites, IP aggregation sites, and co-located with core network equipment.
Among other documents, CORD has issued M-CORD as an Open Reference Solution for 5G Enablement, which they position as an open-source reference solution for mobile edge computing deployment alternatives that is built on the pillars of SDN, NFV and cloud technologies. The organization also provides guidance regarding mobile edge computing operations, installation, development, and testing.
Another organization involved in MEC architecture and datacenter evolution is the O-RAN Alliance, which is developing an architecture designed to enable next-generation Radio Access Network (RAN) infrastructures. Founded by AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, NTT DoCoMo, and Orange, the O-RAN Alliance defines a cloud-native RAN that leverages MEC. The organization sees the potential to embed intelligence in every layer of the RAN architecture. Part of this intelligence could be within the edge computing equipment, supported with AI-optimized closed-loop automation software control.
Depending on the vendor, there are many different views. For example, Vapor IO, who recently purchased the edge co-location business from one of its investors, Crown Castle, sees the most distributed approach with MEC at every base station. To get there, the company sees interim steps such as building a nationwide network of edge data centers throughout major metropolitan areas in the United States. The company will interconnect edge computing sites within a city to form a larger, virtual data center the company refers to as Vapor Kinetic Edge that covers an entire metro area.
While this logical extreme may ultimately come to fruition, other companies, such as Saguna Networks, see a large role for enterprise-deployed MEC, particularly in conjunction with private LTE and 5G deployments. Other vendors such as Deutsche Telekom backed MobiledgeX (recently acquired by Google) also see a strong mobile edge computing market for enterprise and industrial applications such as smart buildings and smart factories respectively.
In this business-owned/controlled edge computing market model, the carriers will minimally provide a network as a service (via connectivity and communications services) solution and potentially a certain degree of computing as a service. However, it is likely that many enterprise and industrial customers may manage their own apps and/or allow access by third parties via edge computing APIs for provisioning, administration, and overall management.
It is important to understand that multi-access edge computing servers and platforms can be deployed in many locations including, but not limited to, an LTE and/or 5G macro base station site, the 3G Radio Network Controller site, a multi-RAT cell aggregation site, or at an aggregation point. Communication Service Providers (CSP) are not accustomed to planning for remote servers.
However, MEC essentially needs many remote data centers. The author predicts that CSPs will need to partner with network integration companies to realize the full vision of MEC. CSPs cannot be bogged down in negotiations, planning, engineering, and deployment of MEC communications/computing platforms every time a new site is acquired.
With the multi-access edge computing market, there is clearly a new computational-communications paradigm in which communications and computing are no longer thought of as separate things. Furthermore, they are planned, engineered, deployed, and operated together. In parallel with this new paradigm, mobile networks are becoming video networks.
This is essentially the case because the vast majority of bandwidth demand is driven by video usage of some type. This is anticipated to accelerate with MEC as there will be many more uses for video, such as public safety (e.g. face recognition to identify potential threats). With this new paradigm, there will be a need for more efficient management of real-time data and analytics as vast amounts of data is collected, much of which will require real-time processing.
Implementation and operation of multi-access edge computing have profound implications. For example, there will not be a need to always route completely through the entire switching fabric for Internet transport. In other words, certain content and applications can be consumed locally rather than relying upon back-hauling and/or hair-pinning through a home gateway to the (centralized/core) cloud.
This environment is characterized by ultra-low latency and high bandwidth as well as real-time access to radio network information that can be leveraged by applications and QoE platforms located "deep into the network". Better performance through partial off-load from device to edge or centralized cloud to edge. One good example app that will benefit from this is cloud gaming.