Early this year, I was very happy to participate in the development of a timely paper on an incredibly important subject. Specifically, the paper was titled “5G at the Edge” , and was the result of an effort between myself, my colleagues at Intel (Rajesh Gadiyar, Nageen Himayat, Kathyayani Srikanteswara et. al.), and multiple other companies (AT&T, CIENA, Ericsson et. al.) at the 5G Americas organization. This paper explores the impact of Edge Computing and its role in the evolution of 5G network architecture. One would be hard-pressed to find two more compelling technology trends today, nor two more intertwined in their potential for innovation and change.
It’s clear that both of these topics are very important to Intel. One only needs to look towards our recent acquisition of Smart Edge to understand the priority we’re placing on this area. In order to understand why, “5G at the Edge” provides insight into how these trends are impacting network architectural development for both today and tomorrow. It explores the application of Cloud-native principles such as Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV), and identifies various methodologies currently being adopted for 5G applications. It examines emerging use cases and outlines the stringent requirements needed to facilitate advanced mobility, compute, and storage capabilities for emerging 5G wireless networks. Just as importantly, this paper supplies an in-depth view of the various industry and open source initiatives defining emerging edge architectures.
Overall, the paper defines the next generation Edge reference architecture and explores future directions in networking. This is an important transition and, as with many significant technology trends, there can be confusion around what the “edge” actually is and how it impacts 5G networks.
What is critical to understand is that edge computing is important for 5G networks, but not a one-size-fits-all “panacea.”. That said, properly implemented, network architectures that employ edge computing technology are capable of enabling new applications (and thus services) that need reduced network latency for real-time operations, such as augmented and virtual reality for events, video & speech analytics, remote monitoring for video security, and others.
Edge computing is inherently a complex subject and will be deployed by operators in a variety of ways to provide specific services, applications and use cases to their customers. 5G incorporates alongside edge computing into wireless networks and when combined with emerging open source initiatives and standards to manage data across the end-to-end network – from radio access, to transport, to the core – can enable powerful new capabilities like network slicing. 5G networks also take advantage of cloud-native concepts, such as containerization and micro-services through techniques like SDN and NFV, as they grow and become more distributed. These cloud-native, open source initiatives are critical to the development of standards in how new applications and services will be created.
Edge computing also uses innovative artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to improve the management of data workloads across networks. As these networks become more distributed, edge computing ensures data processing, and intelligence moves near the periphery “or edge” of a network away from the core, allowing network traffic to be handled more precisely and efficiently – depending on the local needs of the user.
The result will be autonomous and intelligent systems that can leverage environmental and application contexts while taking optimal advantage of network resources in real-time. These capabilities will enable the mass deployment of everything from AR/VR, to AI based services, such as video analytics, and can enhance healthcare, security, and manufacturing – to name a few. Applications in these verticals that require operations in remote locations and real-time capabilities, will see much higher quality of service, enabling applications such as Telemedicine and examination, video surveillance – or remote monitoring of factory equipment.
The potential of these two technologies together – 5G and edge computing – is truly greater than the sum of their parts. If these trends impact you and your business, please take a moment to read “5G at the Edge” for a deeper understanding of how 5G and edge computing are transforming the network.