Gartner: Telecom at the Edge + Distributed Cloud in 3 Stages

Source: Gartner report on Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020

Communicating to the Edge — The Role of 5G
Connecting edge devices with one another and with back-end services is a fundamental aspect of IoT and an enabler of smart spaces. 5G is the next-generation cellular standard after 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE; LTE Advanced [LTE-A] and LTE Advanced Pro [LTE-A Pro]).

Several global standards bodies have defined it — International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) [NOT A STANDARDS BODY] and ETSI [Has submitted their IMT 2020 RIT to ITU-R WP5D jointly with DECT Forum].

Successive iterations of the 5G standard also will incorporate support for NarrowBand Internet of Things (NB-IoT) aimed at devices with low-power and low-throughput requirements. New system architectures include core network slicing as well as edge computing.
5G addresses three key technology communication aspects, each of which supports distinct new services, and possibly new business models (such as latency as a service):

■ Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), which most providers will probably implement first.
■ Ultra-reliable and low-latency communications (URLLC), which addresses many existing industrial, medical, drone and transportation requirements where reliability and latency requirements surpass bandwidth needs.
■ Massive machine-type communications (mMTC), which addresses the scale requirements of IoT edge computing.

Use of higher cellular frequencies and massive capacity will require very dense deployments with higher frequency reuse. As a result, we expect that most public 5G deployments will initially focus on islands of deployment, without continuous national coverage. We expect that, by 2020, 4% of network-based mobile communications service providers globally will launch the 5G network commercially. Many CSPs are uncertain about the nature of the use cases and business models that may drive 5G. We expect that, through 2022, organizations will use 5G mainly to support IoT communications, high-definition video and fixed wireless access. The release of unlicensed radio spectrum (Citizens Broadband Radio Service [CBRS] in the U.S., and similar initiatives in the U.K. and Germany) will facilitate the deployment of private 5G (and LTE) networks.

This will enable enterprises to exploit the advantages of 5G technology without waiting for public networks to build out coverage. Identify use cases that definitely require the high-end performance, low latency or higher densities of 5G for edge computing needs.

Map the organization’s planned exploitation of such use cases against the expected rollout by providers through 2023. Evaluate the available alternatives that may prove adequate and more cost-effective than 5G for particular IoT use cases. Examples include low-power wide-area (LPWA), such as 4G LTE-based NB-IoT or LTE Cat M1, LoRa, Sigfox and Wireless Smart Ubiquitous Networks (Wi-SUN).
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Distributed Cloud examines a major evolution in cloud computing where the applications, platforms, tools, security, management and other services are physically shifting from a centralized data center model to one in which the services are distributed and delivered at the point of need. The point of need can extend into customer data centers or all the way to the edge devices.

A distributed cloud refers to the distribution of public cloud services to different locations outside the cloud providers’ data centers, while the originating public cloud provider assumes responsibility for the operation, governance, maintenance and updates. This represents a significant shift from the centralized model of most public cloud services and will lead to a new era in cloud computing.

Concept of Distributed Cloud:

Concept of distributed cloud. 

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Gartner expects distributed cloud computing will happen in three phases:

■ Phase 1: A like-for-like hybrid mode in which the cloud provider delivers services in a distributed fashion that mirror a subset of services in its centralized cloud for delivery in the enterprise.
■ Phase 2: An extension of the like-for-like model in which the cloud provider teams with third parties to deliver a subset of its centralized cloud services to target communities through the third-party provider. An example is the delivery of services through a telecommunications
provider to support data sovereignty requirements in smaller countries where the provider does not have data centers.
■ Phase 3: Communities of organizations share distributed cloud substations. We use the term“substations” to evoke the image of subsidiary stations (like branch post offices) where people gather to use services.

Cloud customers can gather at a given distributed cloud substation to
consume cloud services for common or varied reasons if it is open for community or public use.  This improves the economics associated with paying for the installation and operation of a distributed cloud substation. As other companies use the substation, they can share the cost of
the installation.

We expect that third parties such as telecommunications service providers will explore the creation of substations in locations where the public cloud provider does not have a presence. If the substation is not open for use by others outside the organization that paid for its installation, then the substation represents a private cloud instance in a hybrid relationship with the public cloud. The distributed cloud supports continuously connected and intermittently connected operation of like-for-like cloud services from the public cloud “distributed” to specific and varied locations. This enables low-latency service execution where the cloud services are closer to the point of need in remote data centers or all the way to the edge device itself.

This can deliver major improvements in performance and reduce the risk of global network-related outages, as well as support occasionally connected scenarios. By 2024, most cloud service platforms will provide at least some services that execute at the point of need.

References:

https://emtemp.gcom.cloud/ngw/globalassets/en/doc/documents/432920-top-10-strategic-technology-trends-for-2020.pdf

https://emtemp.gcom.cloud/ngw/globalassets/en/doc/documents/450595-top-strategic-predictions-for-2020-and-beyond.pdf

Gartner Group Innovation & Insight: Cutting Through the 5G Hype

AWS looks to dominate 5G edge with telco partners that include Verizon, Vodafone, KDDI, SK Telecom

On Dec. 3rd at AWS re:Invent (Dec. 2-6, 2019) in Las Vegas, Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS), announced AWS Wavelength, which provides developers the ability to build applications that serve end-users with single-digit millisecond latencies over the 5G network.  AWS is partnering with Verizon on making AWS Wavelength available across the United States. Currently, AWS Wavelength is being piloted by select customers in Verizon’s 5G Edge, Verizon’s mobile edge compute (MEC) solution, in Chicago. Additionally, AWS is collaborating with other global telecommunications companies (including Vodafone, SK Telecom, and KDDI) to launch AWS Wavelength across Europe, South Korea, and Japan in 2020, with more global partners coming soon.  From Amazon’s AWS Wavelength press release:

AWS Wavelength enables developers to build applications that deliver single-digit millisecond latencies to mobile devices and end-users. AWS developers can deploy their applications to Wavelength Zones, AWS infrastructure deployments that embed AWS compute and storage services within the wireless telecommunications providers’ data centers at the edge of the 5G networks, and seamlessly access the breadth of AWS services in the region. This enables developers to deliver applications that require single-digit millisecond latencies such as game and live video streaming, machine learning inference at the edge, and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR).

AWS Wavelength brings AWS services to the edge of the 5G network, minimizing the latency to connect to an application from a mobile device. Application traffic can reach application servers running in Wavelength Zones without leaving the mobile provider’s network. This reduces the extra network hops to the Internet that can result in latencies of more than 100 milliseconds, preventing customers from taking full advantage of the bandwidth and latency advancements of 5G.

Image result for image of AWS wavelength

More from the press release:

Wavelength embeds AWS compute and storage services at the edge of wireless telecommunications providers’ 5G networks, enabling developers to serve use-cases that require ultra-low latency like machine learning inference at the edge, autonomous industrial equipment, smart cars and cities, Internet of Things (IoT), and Augmented and Virtual Reality. Wavelength brings the power of AWS to the edge of the 5G network, so developers can deploy the portions of an application that require ultra-low latency within the 5G network, and then seamlessly connect back to the rest of their application and full range of cloud services running in AWS. AWS customers can now use the same familiar AWS APIs, tools, and functionality they use today, to deliver-low latency applications at the edge of the 5G network, around the world […]

With infrastructure that consists of 69 Availability Zones, in 22 AWS Regions, AWS enables developers to serve end-users with low latencies worldwide. However, emerging interactive applications like game streaming, virtual reality, and real-time rendering require even lower latencies, of single-digit milliseconds to end-users and devices, connected through mobile networks. In addition, use-cases like industrial automation, smart cities, IoT, and autonomous vehicles require data processing to take place close to the source in order to conserve resources like device power and bandwidth. The 5G network is up to 20 times faster than 4G, and can be used to dramatically increase the number of supported devices and shrink network latency for mobile devices. However, even with the arrival of 5G, mobile devices still have to cross multiple network hops when connecting to an application over the Internet. Today, application traffic has to travel from a device to a cell tower to metro aggregation sites to regional aggregation sites and to the Internet before it can access resources running in AWS. These network hops can result in latencies of more than 100 milliseconds. This prevents developers from realizing the full potential of 5G to address low-latency use-cases.

Wavelength addresses these problems by bringing AWS services to the edge of the 5G network, minimizing the latency to connect to an application from a mobile device. With Wavelength, AWS developers can deploy their applications to Wavelength Zones, AWS infrastructure deployments that embed AWS compute and storage services within the network operators’ datacenters at the edge of the 5G network, so application traffic only needs to travel from the device to a cell tower to a Wavelength Zone running in a metro aggregation site. This removes a lot of the latency that would result from multiple hops between regional aggregation sites and across the Internet, which enables customers to take full advantage of 5G networks. Wavelength also delivers a consistent developer experience across multiple 5G networks around the world, and allows developers to build the next generation of ultra-low latency applications using the familiar AWS services, APIs, and tools they already use today – eliminating the need for developers to negotiate for space and equipment with multiple telecommunications providers, and stitch together application deployment and operations through different management interfaces, before they can begin to deploy their applications.

AWS Wavelength combines the power of the AWS cloud with the cutting-edge 5G networks of leading telecommunications providers like Verizon, Vodafone, KDDI, and SK Telecom to unlock a new wave of innovative applications and services around the world. By delivering these new capabilities, Wavelength enables developers to serve mobile users with single-digit millisecond latency and to optimize their applications by processing data closer to its source, enabling use-cases across a wide range of platforms – from factories to stores to cars to homes.

To deploy their application to the 5G edge, developers can simply extend their Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) to include a Wavelength Zone and then create AWS resources like Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances, Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS) volumes, and AWS Elastic Container Service (ECS) and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Services (EKS) containers. In addition, developers can continue to use familiar and powerful AWS services to manage, secure, and scale their applications like AWS CloudFormation, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), and AWS Auto Scaling. This enables developers to easily run a wide variety of latency-sensitive workloads like analytics, IoT, machine learning, game streaming, and AR/VR.”

With Wavelength, we bring 5G and cloud together to give our customers the powerful new capability to run cloud services consistently within a few milliseconds of mobile end-users,” said Matt Garman, Vice President Compute Services, AWS. “This is a game changer for developers that is going to unlock a whole new generation of applications and services. We are really excited to see our customers innovate with these unique new capabilities that they did not have access to before.

Image result for image of AWS wavelength

AWS Wavelength: Partner testimonials:

From the AWS press announcement, here are current Amazon’s Wavelength partners’ testimonial statements:

Verizon is building the most powerful 5G network in the U.S. Launched in April, Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network is currently live in 18 cities as well as 16 sporting and entertainment arenas across the country, and plans to expand to more than 30 U.S. cities by the end of this year. “Continuing our tradition of bringing new technology to market first we are excited to launch a mobile edge compute service — integrating our 5G Edge platform with Wavelength to allow developers to build new categories of applications and network cloud experiences,” said Kyle Malady, CTO of Verizon. “Bringing together the full capabilities of Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network and AWS, we unlock the full potential of our 5G services for customers to create applications and solutions with the fastest speeds and ultra-low latency.”

Verizon and AWS will integrate AWS – Wavelength with 5G Edge so developers can begin testing applications on ultra-low latency networks. The plan is to connect 5G applications to AWS cloud services without the hops. The two companies will bring compute and storage closer to 5G users. Deployments are planned in Chicago for select customers in 2020 with additional locations added throughout the year.

Varjo Technologies Oy is based in Helsinki and is creating the world’s best hardware and software for groundbreaking VR/AR/XR computing devices, merging the real and digital worlds seamlessly together in human-eye resolution. “Simulating things at the same acuity you see in real life is a game changer compared to standard VR approaches. Varjo’s unique human-eye resolution technology helps professionals save time, money, and effort,” said Niko Eiden, Founder and CEO, Varjo. “Not too far down the road, our technology will be fully wireless, collaborative mixed reality. And this workspace of the future needs to be rendered in the cloud – with millions of pixels of extremely high-resolution, uncompressed content with single-digit millisecond latencies delivered to our devices – whether on premises at carmakers or in remote sites, through 5G. Now, instead of having to develop expensive local computing services that would be impossible to run on a battery-operated device, we can use edge computing to scale the rendering power and the business of our industrial-grade VR/MR from thousands to hundreds of thousands of units. Having access to the power of the AWS Cloud, together with 5G’s high bandwidth, low latency, and increased connectivity, is vital to our ability to deliver professional immersive computing experiences and to grow our business.”

Mapbox is the location data platform for mobile and web developers, providing building blocks to add location features like maps, search, and navigation into any experience and changing the way people move around cities and explore the world. Mapbox tools are used by more than 1.7 million live location developers to power daily experiences for people, technology, and business. “Everyone needs maps, so 600 million people touch Mapbox every month as they read the headlines of the New York Times, check the weather on Weather.com, and find great restaurants or concerts on Facebook,” said Eric Gundersen, CEO and Co-Founder, Mapbox. “Our map gets smarter every time someone touches it, using AI to constantly update traffic and new streets — AWS Wavelength’s ultra-low-latency compute can help us process billions of sensor data updates into better maps by identifying new roads as they’re built, routing drivers around traffic jams, and spotting road construction with the Vision SDK. AWS Wavelength can reduce our refresh timelines from minutes to seconds, delivering Mapbox users a truly living map.”

SK Telecom, the largest mobile operator in Korea, with nearly 50 percent market share, has been leading the global mobile industry through constant innovations in technologies and services. As a 5G pioneer, SK Telecom is also one of the first telco providers to launch commercial 5G mobile-edge computing (MEC) in collaboration with AWS. “By combining the strengths of SK Telecom’s 5G network and AWS cloud, we are set to bring innovative changes to all individuals, businesses and industries. This collaboration enables exciting use cases like game streaming, headless robotics, Ultra High Definition interactive media, autonomous driving, and smart factories. For example, through the application of AWS Wavelength and SK Telecom’s advanced 5G solutions, a smart factory can enhance the response time of robots performing maintenance, security, and manufacturing tasks, allowing the factory to scale operations without increasing costs,” said Ryu Young-sang, Vice President and Head of MNO Business, SK Telecom. “SK Telecom and AWS are deploying 5G multi-access cloud services at the edge, helping third-party developers and enterprises improve quality of experience, create business models, and accelerate time to market for new revenue opportunities. With SK Telecom’s 5G network, we can jointly develop sophisticated cloud services that can create greater value for enterprises of any size in Korea.”

Vodafone Group is one of the world’s leading telecoms and technology service providers, with extensive experience in connectivity, convergence and the Internet of Things, as well as championing mobile financial services and digital transformation in emerging markets. Vodafone Business and AWS will provide multi-access edge computing capabilities to developers, Internet of Things (IoT), devices and end users by bringing the AWS cloud closer to the devices that need it, and running AWS Wavelength in strategic locations within Vodafone’s 5G network. “With Europe’s largest 5G network across 58 cities and as a global leader in the Internet of Things (IoT) with over 90 million connections, Vodafone is pleased to be the first telco to introduce AWS Wavelength in Europe,” said Vinod Kumar, CEO of Vodafone Business. “Faster speeds and lower latencies have the potential to revolutionize how our customers do business, and they can rely on Vodafone’s existing capabilities and security layers within our own network.”

KDDI, a leading telecommunications provider in Japan, offers services that include both mobile and fixed-line communications, and Internet services. KDDI, which plans to launch commercial 5G services in Japan by March 2020, is actively developing its 5G network to enable enhanced Mobile Broadband in both densely populated metropolitan areas and rural areas. “In preparation for our 5G service launch, KDDI has been successfully proving that 5G can be delivered with reliable service quality in Japan in metropolitan and rural locations. We have achieved successful trials, like 5G handovers for high-speed racing cars and trains, a real-time, free-viewpoint video stream at a baseball stadium, and 4K video communication at a major station,” said Makoto Takahashi, President, KDDI. “Having the power of the AWS cloud processing and storage services available at the edge of the KDDI 5G network enables us to accelerate IoT innovation for applications like high-definition VR video streaming, VPS (visual positioning service), smart factories, autonomous vehicles, and more. AWS Wavelength provides Japanese businesses and consumers immediate access to these services over the KDDI 5G network. This will also enable us to address some of Japan’s pressing societal issues, such as revitalizing economies in areas facing population decline, rebuilding infrastructure, and improving prompt reaction to natural disasters.”

Interoperability Issues:

The tight coupling of 5G networks with edge computing raises challenging interoperability questions.  Currently, it appears that a U.S. end user wanting to use an application that relies on a AWS Wavelength Zone would have to be a Verizon 5G Edge customer with a Verizon 5G end point device. That’s not how we usually think about “the cloud,” which today can be accessed from a wide range of different vendor devices over a wide range of connectivity providers.

At MWC 2019, A&T announced it was working with Microsoft Azure to bring network edge computing (NEC) closer to the end point.  We wrote in February 2019 that AT&T is using drones to test the network edge compute capabilities with Azure, working with Israel-based startup Vorpal in its foundry in Plano, TXMicrosoft provided new details of its Azure – AT&T 5G partnership on November 26th: 

Microsoft Azure cloud services are being integrated into AT&T network edge locations (closer to customers). This means AT&T’s software-defined and virtualized 5G core – what the company calls the Network Cloud – is now capable of delivering Azure services. NEC will initially be available for a limited set of select customers in Dallas. Next year, Los Angeles and Atlanta are targeted for select customer availability.

That implies if you are an AT&T 5G customer you will, at some point in time, likely have access to Microsoft Azure cloud services via NEC.  However, AT&T customers won’t be able to access NEC for any other cloud provider, i.e. AWS, Google Cloud, etc.

Hence, you only get the advantages of edge computing (with much lower latency) if you are locked in to a pair of 5G network and cloud providers that have an edge computing partnership.

And what about roaming or truly mobile, such that a 5G endpoint device (in a train, car, bus, ship, etc) moves from one Wavelength Zone or 5G network to another?  Will there be any sort of hand-off between providers and will the 5G device be able to operate on more than the 5G network it subscribed to?

Once again, this issue can only be solved once the complete suite of IMT 2020 standards are finalized and implemented by 5G network operators and endpoint device makers!

 

 

References:

https://aws.amazon.com/wavelength

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20191203005910/en/AWS-Announces-AWS-Wavelength

 

Verizon CEO: 5G will require fiber optic expansion, mobile edge computing and continue to use mmWave spectrum

Verizon 5G Overview:

Verizon’s 5G network strategy is centered on three deliverables with fiber optics for backhaul playing a huge role in all of them:

  1.  5G mobile for businesses and consumers,
  2.  5G home broadband (see Note 1. below) —delivering home internet over the air—and
  3.  Mobile edge computing, which is essentially miniature data centers distributed throughout the network so they’re closer to the 5G endpoints.

The company’s CEO Hans Vestberg said that a total of 30 5G mobile cities will be launched by Verizon this year. He also plans to restart Verizon’s fixed wireless 5G Home service [1] later this year. 5G Home currently is in four U.S. markets.

Note 1.  There is no standard for 5G fixed wireless and none is even being worked on.  It is not an IMT 2020 use case within ITU.

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Fiber and Mobile Edge Computing:

The U.S.’s #1 wireless carrier by subscribers will continue to install fiber at a rate of 1,400 miles per month in support of its 5G network builds for between two and three years.  Verizon will begin to provide mobile edge computing [aka Multi-access edge computing (MEC)] during the upcoming quarter, Vestberg said at a Goldman Sachs Communacopia investor conference on Thursday, September 19th.  Verizon fiber deployments are critical to supporting a mixture of services, Vestberg said.

As part of its Fiber One project, two years ago Verizon signed a $1.1 billion, three-year fiber and hardware purchase agreement with Corning to build a next-generation fiber platform to support 4G LTE, 5G, and gigabit backhaul for 5G networks and fiber-to-the premise deployments to residential and business customers. Also in 2017, Verizon also announced a $300 million fiber deal with Prsymian Group to provide additional fiber for its wireline and wireless services.

“The whole Intelligent Edge Network was basically all of the way from the data center to the access point we have one unique network for redundancy. And then, of course, in between fiber to the access point and then you decide if its 5G, 4G, or fiber to the home or fiber to curb, or fiber to the enterprise,” Vestberg said. “In that, the fiber deployment for us was extremely important.”

“One part of the whole intelligent edge network was that . . . all the way from the data center to the access point you have one unique network with a lot of redundancy and, in between, a lot of fiber to the access point and then you decide if it’s 3G, 5G, 4G or fiber to the home or fiber to the curb or fiber to the enterprise,” he explained.

Vestberg said: “You have one unique network with a lot of redundancy and, in between, a lot of fiber to the access point,” he said of edge computing, which has become a priority for many wireless and wireline network operators.

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mmWave for 5G:

Verizon will continue to deploy millimeter wave (mmWave) for its 5G network for the foreseeable future, Vestberg told the investor conference audience.  High frequency band mmWave has great download speeds but its range is very limited, which requires many more small cells.

“Maybe you have 50 to 70 megabits per second on a 4G network today, when you get 1 gig [on 5G] it’s a totally different experience and what you can do with it,” Vestberg said. “What we saw in the 4G era was enormous innovation coming with that [greater] coverage and that speed [over 3G]. It’s going to be the same with 5G for sure,” he added.

“Now we have 2 gigs [gigabits per second] on the phones,” Vestberg said. The range, however, can veer from 2,000 feet to 500 feet and the network can’t deliver flashy streaming videos — or, in fact, any kind of service — indoors.  Verizon is the only US carrier solely dedicated to the highband (28GHz) approach to 5G for now. AT&T and T-Mobile plan to launch low and mid band 5G networks next year, along with limited mmWave deployments. Sprint has mid band 5G launched so far.

“We can launch nationwide with millimeter wave,” the Verizon CEO insisted.  “Any spectrum will have 5G in the future,” Vestberg noted. Verizon will also offer dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) in the future. DSS will allow operators to share spectrum instantaneously and simultaneously between 4G and 5G networks. But not for mmWave, since that doesn’t share spectrum with any 4G networks.

Vestberg said Verizon has all the spectrum it needs now to do a nationwide network on mmWave, and that adding more antennas in a given area or making software adjustments are also options for increasing capacity on existing spectrum bands.

Vestberg insisted that the mmWave-based service will be “self-install.” This would be more economical than the “white glove” — a.k.a. professional — installation model that 5G Home started with in October 2018.

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Verizon’s mobile network:

A growing percentage of Verizon’s mobile subscribers are on unlimited data plans, with about half today.  “This is a way for us to continue to see that our customers have a great journey from metered plan to Unlimited (data) plans and then they can move up…to 5G,” Vestberg said.

“We think that we are best equipped to leverage the best network and continue to partner with [media companies] rather than us managing it.  Others might have better qualities for doing that but we don’t, Vestberg said.

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References:

Verizon to speak at Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference September 19
https://www.verizon.com/about/investors/goldman-sachs-28th-annual-communacopia-conference

https://event.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1260712&tp_key=eae790b458

https://www.barrons.com/articles/verizon-ceo-hans-vestberg-stock-5g-wireless-competition-51568906382

https://www.lightreading.com/mobile/5g/verizons-vestberg-sticks-with-mmwave-for-5g-/d/d-id/754248

https://www.telecompetitor.com/verizon-ceo-ongoing-fiber-investments-paying-dividends-including-mec/

CenturyLink CTO on Network Virtualization; Major Investment in Edge Compute Services

Andrew Dugan, senior vice president  and chief technology officer, CenturyLink, Inc. presented his company’s views on network virtualization and related topics at the Cowen and Company 5th Annual Communications Infrastructure Summit in Boulder CO., on Aug. 13th.  You can listen to the audio webcast replay here.

Dugan said he doesn’t know what AT&T means when the mega carrier says it’s virtualizing 75% of its core network by the end of 2020.   “I’d like to figure out what AT&T means by 75% virtualization,” said Dugan. “I don’t get it. The concept of virtualizing the core router or an optical platform, that’s a lot of cost of your network to provide services. We’re not working on virtualizing that stuff.

Dugan said CenturyLink is focused on virtualizing systems that enable its customers to turn up and turn down services on demand, and it’s also focused on virtualization at the edge of its network. He said the company likes the benefits of putting a white box device on the customer premises and “letting a customer turn up a firewall or an SD-WAN appliance or a WAN accelerator whenever they want.”

Earlier this week, CenturyLink announced the rollout of its edge compute-focused strategy, beginning with a several hundred-million-dollar investment to build out and support edge compute services. This effort – which includes creating more than 100 initial edge compute locations across the U.S., and providing a range of hybrid cloud solutions and managed services – enables customers to advance their next-gen digital initiatives with technology that integrates high performance, low-latency networking with leading cloud service provider platforms in customized configurations.

“Customers are increasingly coming to us for help with applications where latency, bandwidth and geography are critical considerations,” said Paul Savill, senior vice president, product management, CenturyLink. “This investment creates the platform for CenturyLink to enable enterprises, hyperscalers, wireless carriers, and system integrators with the technology elements to drive years of innovation where workloads get placed closer to customers’ digital interactions.”

This expansion allows businesses and government agencies to leverage a highly diverse, global fiber network with edge facilities designed to serve their local locations within 5 milliseconds of latency. With this infrastructure, companies will be able to complete the linkage from office location to market edge compute aggregation to public cloud and data centers with redundant and dynamically consumable network.

“Digital transformation is gaining momentum as enterprises across all verticals look to technology to improve operational efficiency and enhance the customer experience,” said Melanie Posey, Research Vice President and General Manager at 451 Research. “As business processes become increasingly distributed, data-intensive, and transaction-based, the IT systems they depend on must be equally distributed to provide the necessary compute, storage and network resources to far-flung business value chains.”

Dugan said the edge compute platform plays into the company’s virtualization efforts, allowing customers the ability to turn up and turn down Ethernet services, increase capacity, change vLANs, and configure their services on-demand.

Related image

“That, to me, is where NFV and SDN comes in. We haven’t put a number on the percent of the network. We’re more focused on that customer enablement,” he said.

“When you build out an NFV platform, you’ve got the cost of the white box, you have the cost of the management or virtualization software that runs within the white box, and you have the cost of the virtual functions themselves.  If you’re running one or two applications on premise, it’s not cheaper. The real value from NFV comes in the flexibility that it provides you to be able to put a box out there and be able to turn up and turn down services. It’s not a capex reduction…It’s a reduction in operating costs because you’re not having to roll trucks and put boxes out,” Dugan added.

CenturyLink says its “thousands of secure technical facilities combined with its network of 450,000-global route miles of fiber, expertise in high-performance cloud networking, and extensive cloud management expertise make this investment in the rapidly emerging edge compute market a natural evolution for the company.”

Key Facts (source: CenturyLink):

  • CenturyLink today connects to over 2,200 public and private data centers and over 150,000 on-net, fiber-fed enterprise buildings.
  • CenturyLink’s robust fiber network is one of the most deeply peered and well-connected in the world, with over 450,000 route-miles of coverage.
  • CenturyLink is expanding access to its services by expanding network colocation services in many key markets to enable customers and partners to run distributed IT workloads close to the edge of the network.

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CenturyLink References:

CenturyLink CEO Jeff Storey: “Expanding our fiber footprint is major focus; Fiber beats wireless, whether it’s 5G or not”

IHS Markit: CenturyLink #1 in the 2019 North American SIP Trunking Scorecard

VSG’s U.S. Carrier Ethernet LEADERBOARD: CenturyLink #1, AT&T #2; U.S. CE port base grew >12%

CenturyLink offers Multi Cloud Connect L2 Service for Fiber-fed Buildings

CenturyLink/Level 3 Says Its Fiber Assets will attract SMBs

 

GSA Silicon Summit: Focus on Edge Computing, AI/ML and Vehicle to Everything (V2X) Communications

Introduction:

Many “big picture” technology trends and future requirements were detailed at GSA’s Silicon Summit, held June 18, 2019 in Santa Clara, CA.  The conference was  a “high level” executive briefing for the entire semiconductor ecosystem- including software, middleware and hardware.  Insights on trends, key issues, opportunities and technology challenges (especially related to IoT security) were described and debated in panel sessions.  Partnerships and collaboration were deemed necessary, especially for start-ups and small companies, to advance the technology, products and services to be offered in this new age of AI, ML/DL, cloud, IoT, autonomous vehicles, (fake) 5G, etc.  Companies involved in the development of next generation Mobility and Edge Intelligence systems architectures and solutions discussed what opportunities, advancements and challenges exist in those key areas.

With the rapid proliferation of smart edge computing devices and applications, the volume of data produced is growing exponentially. Connected, and “intelligent,” devices are predicted to grow to 200 billion by 2020, generating enormous amounts of data every single day. The business potential created by this data comes with huge expectations.  Edge devices, edge intelligence, high bandwidth connectivity, high performance computing, machine learning and other technologies are essential to enabling opportunities in markets such as Mobility and Industrial IoT.

This article will focus on Edge Computing, AI moving closer to the endpoint device (at the network edge or actually embedded in the end point device/thing), and vehicle to vehicle/everything communications.

While there were many presentations and panels on security, that is beyond the scope of the IEEE ComSoc Techblog.  However, we share Intel’s opinion, expressed during a lunch panel session, that standards for Over The Air (OTA) security software/firmware updates are necessary for almost all smart/intelligent devices that are part of the IoT.

Architectural Implications of Edge Computing, Yogesh Bhatt VP of Products- ML, DL and Cognitive Tech Ericsson – Silicon Valley:

Several emerging application (data flow) patterns are moving intelligence from the cloud to local/metro area to on premises and ultimately to the endpoint devices.  These applications include: cloud native apps like content delivery; AI enabled apps like sensing, thinking and acting; immersive apps like media processing/augmentation/distribution.

AI enabled Industrial apps are increasing.  They were defined as: The ability to collect and deliver the right data/video/images, at the right velocity and in the right quantities to wide set of well-orchestrated ML-models and provide insights at all levels in the operation.  Connectivity and compute are being packaged together and offered as “a service.”  One example given was 4K video over (pre-standard) “5G” wireless access at the 2018 U.S. Open.  That was intended to be a case study of whether 5G could replace miles of fiber to broadcast live, high definition sports events.

Yogesh Bhatt VP of Products- ML, DL and Cognitive Tech Ericsson – Silicon Valley

Image courtesy of GSA Global

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Required Architecture for Emerging App Patterns: Application Cloud, Management & Monetization Network slices, Mobile Fixed Cloud infrastructure, Distributed Cloud and Transport.   The flow of emerging apps requires computing capability to be distributed based on the application pattern and flow.  That in turn mandates cross-domain orchestration and automation of services.

Key take-aways:

  • Emerging Application patterns will require significant compute capabilities close to the data sources and sinks (end points)
  • Current Device-to-Cloud Architecture need to expand to encompass hosting points that provides such processing capabilities
  • The processing capabilities at these Edge locations would be anything but like the centralized Cloud Data Centers (DCs)

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Heterogeneous Integration for the Edge, Yin Chang Sr. VP, Sales & Marketing ASE Group:

ASE sees the “Empowered Edge” as a key 2019 strategic trend.  Edge computing drivers include: latency/determinism, cost of bandwidth, better privacy and security, and higher reliability/availability (connections go down, limited autonomy).

  • At the edge (undefined where that is -see my comment below) we might see the following: Collect/Process data, Imaging Device, Image processing, Biometric Sensor, Microphone, Sensors with embedded MCUs, Environmental Sensor.
  • At the core (assumed to be somewhere in the cloud/Internet): Compute/Intelligent processing, AI & Machine Learning, Networks/Server Processors, High Bandwidth Memory (HBM), Neuro-engine (future), Quantum computing (future).

Compute capabilities are moving to the edge and endpoints:

  • Edge Infrastructure and IoT/Endpoint Systems are growing in compute power per system.
  • As the number of IoT/Endpoint systems outgrows other categories, TOTAL Compute will be at the Endpoint.

Challenges at the Edge will require a cost effective integration solution which will need to deal with:

  • Cloud connectivity – latency and bandwidth limitations
  • Mixed device functionality – sense, compute, connect, power
  • Multiple communication protocols
  • Form factor constraints
  • Battery life
  • Security
  • Cost High density

ASE advocates Heterogeneous Integration at the Edge— by material, component type, circuit type (IP), node and bonding/ interconnect method.  The company has partnered with Cadence to realize System in Package (SiP) intelligent design with “advanced functional integration.”  That partnership addresses the design/verification challenges of complex layout of advanced packages, including ultra-complex SiP, Fan-Out and 2.5D packages.

One such SiP design for wireless communications is antenna integration:

  • Antenna on/in Package for SiP module integration
  • Selective EMI Shielding for non-limited module level FCC certification
  • Selective EMI Shielding  – partial metal coating process by sputter for FCC EMI certification
  • Small Size Antenna Integration – Chip antenna, Printed circuit antenna (under development)

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Democratizing AI at the Endpoint, Brian Faith, CEO of QuickLogic:

QuickLogic was described as “a platform company that enables our customers to quickly and easily create intelligent ultra-low power endpoints to build a smarter, more connected world.”  The company was founded in 1989, IPO in 1999, and now has a worldwide presence.  Brian said they were focused on AI for growth markets including:

▪ Hearable/Wearable
▪ Consumer & Industrial IoT
▪ Smartphone/Tablet
▪ Consumer Electronics

AI and edge computing are coming together such that data analytics is moving from the cloud to the edge to the IoT endpoint (eventually).  However, there are trade-offs for where computing should be located which are based on the application type.  Some considerations include:

▪Applications latency & power consumption (battery life) requirements
▪Data security can be a factor
▪Local insights are trivial and non-actionable
▪Smart Sensors => rich data => actionable if real-time
▪Network sends insightful data (less bandwidth needed)
▪Cloud focuses on aggregate data insights and actions

AI Adoption Challenges:

1.   Resource-Constrained Hardware:

▪ Can’t just run TensorFlow
▪ Limited SRAM, MIPS, FPU / GPU
▪ Mobile or wireless battery/power requirements

2.  Resource-Constrained Development Teams:

▪ Embedded coding more complex & fragmented than cloud PaaS
▪ Scarcity of data scientists, DSP, FPGA and firmware engineers
▪ Limited bandwidth to explore new tools / methods

3.  Lack of AI Automated Tools:

• Typical process: MATLAB modeling followed by hand coded C/C++
• Available AI tools focus on algorithms, not end-to-end workflows
• Per product algorithm cost: $500k, 6-9 months; often far greater

For Machine Learning (ML) good training is vital as is the data:

• Addresses anticipated sources of variance
• Leverages application domain expertise
• Includes all potentially relevant metadata
• Seeks optimal size for the problem at hand

ML Algorithms should fit within Embedded Computing Constraints:

Endpoint Inference Models:

• Starts with model appropriate to the problem
• Fits within available computing resources with headroom
• Utilizes least expensive features that deliver desired accuracy

SensiML Toolkit:

• Provides numerous different ML and AI algorithms and automates the selection process
• Leverages target hardware capabilities and builds models within its memory and computing limits
• Traverses library of over 80 features to optimize selection to best features to fit the problem

A Predictive Maintenance for a Motor Use Case was cited as an example of AI/ML:

Challenges:

▪Unique model doesn’t scale across similar motors (due to concrete, rubber, loading)
▪ Endpoint AI decreases system bandwidth, latency, power

Monitoring States:

▪ Bearing / shaft faults
▪ Pump cavitation / flow inefficiency
▪ Rotating machinery faults
▪ Seismic / structural health monitoring
▪ Factory predictive maintenance

QuickLogic aims to democratize AI-enabled SoC Design using SiFi templates and a cloud based SoC platform with a goal of a custom SoC in 12 weeks!  In 2020 the company plans to have: an AI Software Platform,  SoC Architecture, and eFPGA IP Cores.  Very impressive indeed, if all that can be realized.

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Empowering the Edge Panel Session:

Mike Noonen of Mixed-Com chaired a panel discussion on Empowering the Edge.  Two key points made was the edge computing is MORE SECURE than cloud computing (smaller attack surface) and that as intelligence (AI/ML/data processing) moves to the edge, connections will be richer and richer.  However, no speaker or panelist or moderator defined where the edge actually is located? Is it on premises, the first network element in the access network, the mobile packet core (for a cellular connection), LPWAN or ISP point of presence?  Or any of the above?

Mike Noonen of Mixed-Com leads Panel Discussion

Photo courtesy of GSA Global

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After the conference, Mike emailed this to me:

“One of the many aspects of the GSA Silicon Summit that I appreciate is the topic/theme (such as edge computing). The speakers and panelists addressing the chosen theme offer a 360 degree perspective ranging from technical, commercial and even social aspects of a technology. I always learn something and gain new insights when this broad perspective is presented.”

I couldn’t agree more with Mike!

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V2X –Vehicle to Everything connectivity, Paul Sakamoto, COO of Savari:

V2X connectivity technology today is based on two competing standards: DSRC: Dedicated Short Range Communications (based on IEEE 802.11p WiFi) and C-V2X: Cellular Vehicle to Everything (based on LTE).  Software can run on either, but the V2X connectivity hardware is based on one of the above standards.

DSRC: Dedicated Short Range Communications: 

  • Legacy Tech – 20 years of work, Low Latency Performance Range and reliability
  • No carrier fees; minimize fixed cost
  • Infrastructure needs; how to pay?
  • EU Delegate Act win, but  5GAA is contesting

C-V2X: Cellular Vehicle to Everything:

  • Developed from LTE-Big Money Backing
  • Cellular communications history; good range and reliability
  • Carrier fees required;  subsidy for fixed costs
  • Mix in with base stations to amortize costs
  • China has chosen it as part of the government’s 5G plan

V2X Challenge: Navigate the Next 10 Years:

For mobile use, the main purpose is safety and awareness:
• Tight message security
• Low latency (<1ms)
• Needs client saturation
• Short range

For infrastructure, the main purpose is efficiency and planning:
• Tight message security
• Moderate latency (~100ms)
• Needed where needed
• Longer range

In closing, Paul said V2X is going to be a long raise with many twists and turns.  Savari’s strategy is to be ”radio agnostic,” use scalable computing and scalable security elements, have a 7-10 year business plan with a 2-3 year product development cycle, and be ready to pounce at any inflection point (which may mean parallel developments).

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IHS Markit: Cloud and Mobility Driving Enterprise Edge Connectivity in North America

IHS Markit Survey: Cloud and mobility driving new requirements for enterprise edge connectivity in North America
By Matthias Machowinski, senior research director, IHS Markit, and Joshua Bancroft, senior analyst, IHS Markit

Highlights

  • By 2019, 51 percent of network professionals surveyed by IHS Markit will use hybrid cloud and 37 percent will adopt multi-cloud for application delivery.
  • Bandwidth consumption continues to rise. Companies are expecting to increase provisioned wide-area network (WAN) bandwidth by more than 30 percent annually across all site types.
  • Data backup and storage is the leading reason for traffic growth, followed by cloud services
  • Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is maturing: 66 percent of surveyed companies anticipate deploying it by the end of 2020.
  • Companies deploying SD-WAN use over 50 percent more bandwidth, than those who have not deployed it. Their bandwidth needs are also growing at twice the rate of companies using traditional WANs.

Analysis

Based on a survey of 292 network professionals at North American enterprises, IHS Markit explored the evolving requirements for enterprise edge connectivity, including WAN and SD-WAN. The study revealed that enterprise IT architectures and consumption models are currently undergoing a major transformation, from servers and applications placed at individual enterprise sites, to a hybrid-cloud model where centralized infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) complements highly utilized servers in enterprise-operated data centers. This process allows organizations to bring the benefits of cloud architectures to their own data centers – including simplified management, agility and scalability – and leverage the on-demand aspect of cloud services during peak periods. Respondents also reinforced the viewpoint that the hybrid cloud is a stepping stone to the emerging multi-cloud.

Changing business demographics is sparking the trend of more centralized applications: enterprises are moving closer to their customers, partners, and suppliers. They are adding more physical locations, making mobility a key part of their processes and taking on remote employees to leverage talent and expertise.

Following the current wave of application centralization, certain functions requiring low latency will migrate back to the enterprise edge, residing on universal customer premises equipment (uCPE) and other shared compute platforms. This development is still in its infancy, but it is already on the radar of some companies.

Hybrid cloud is an ideal architecture for distributed enterprises, but it is also contributing to traffic growth at the enterprise edge. Extra attention must be paid to edge connectivity, to ensure users don’t suffer from slow or intermittent access to applications. Performance is a top concern, and enterprises are not only adding more WAN capacity and redundancy, but also adopting SD-WAN.

The primary motivation for deploying SD-WAN is to improve application performance and simplify WAN management. The first wave of SD-WAN deployments focused on cost reduction, and this is still clearly the case, with survey respondents indicating their annual mega-bits-per-second cost is approximately 30 percent lower, with costs declining at a faster rate than in traditional WAN deployments. These results show that SD-WAN can be a crucial way to balance runaway traffic growth with budget constraints.

SD-WAN solutions not only solve the transportation and WAN cost reduction issue, but also help enterprises create a fabric for the multi-cloud. Features like analytics to understand end-user behaviour, enhanced branch security and having a centralized management portal all make SD-WAN an enticing proposition for enterprises looking to adopt a multi-cloud approach.

Enterprise Edge Connectivity Strategies North American Enterprise Survey 

This IHS Markit study takes explores how companies are advancing connectivity at the enterprise edge, in light of new requirements. It includes traditional WAN and SD-WAN growth expectations, growth drivers, plans for new types of connectivity and technologies, equipment used, feature requirements, preferred suppliers, , and spending plans.

SK Telecom partners with MobiledgeX for Edge Computing; Ericsson video call over SK Telecom 5G test network

  1.  SK Telecom, the largest mobile operator in South Korea, announces an agreement to partner with MobiledgeX to enable a new generation of connected devices, content and experiences, creating new business models and revenue opportunities leading into 5G (?).

    “In the 5G era, Mobile Edge Computing will be a key technology for next-generation industries including realistic media and autonomous driving,” said Jong-kwan Park, Senior Vice President and Head of Network Technology R&D Center of SK Telecom. “Based on this partnership, SK Telecom will continue to drive technology innovations to provide customers with differentiated 5G services.”

    The relationship between SK Telecom and MobiledgeX reflects an aligned vision for the future of mobile operators as key players in future mobile application development, performance, security, and reliability. This vision is shared by leading cloud providers and device makers working with MobiledgeX to seamlessly pair the power and distribution of mobile operator infrastructure with the convenience and depth of developer tooling of hyperscale public cloud and the scale, mobility and distribution of billions of end user devices.

    Deutsche Telekom created MobiledgeX as an independent company to drive strategic collaboration across the world’s leading telecoms, public cloud providers, device makers and the surrounding ecosystem – enabling a new era of business models, operating efficiencies and mobile experiences. We are particularly excited to announce SK Telecom‘s participation in this collaborative ecosystem where everybody wins. SK Telecom is a global leader in 5G which follows their rich tradition of innovation within their network, strategic partnerships and developer engagement. This new era is underway,” says Eric Braun, Chief Commercial Officer of MobiledgeX.

MobiledgeX and SK Telecom executives hold up their respective copies of a memorandum of understanding between the two companies to jointly develop mobile edge computing applications. (SK Telecom)

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MobiledgeX is focused on delivering developer-facing edge cloud services and bringing mobility to those services, dynamically placing application back-end as close to mobile devices as possible and removing them when not needed. MobiledgeX, Deutsche Telekom and Intelhave partnered with Telecom Infra Project (TIP) to form an Edge Application Developer project group (see here) to ensure the gained insights and supporting source code are available to all. This is a new opportunity for everyone presented as a consequence of $2 trillion of CAPEX investment in network infrastructure over the past 10 years and the virtualization of the network from the central offices to the towers.  MobiledgeX is building a marketplace of edge resources and services that will connect developers with the world’s largest mobile networks to power the next generation of applications and devices. MobiledgeX is an independent edge computing company founded by Deutsche Telekom and headquartered in Menlo Park, California.

References:

https://mobiledgex.com/press-releases/2018/12/12/sk-telecom-partners-with-mobiledgex

https://www.fiercetelecom.com/telecom/sk-telecom-and-mobiledgex-join-hands-mobile-edge-computing

Separately, SK Telecom said it will comply with the IoT Security Guidelines proposed by GSMA for the safe usage and expansion of IoT networks.

 

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  1.   Ericsson video call over SK Telecom’s 5G test network:

Ericsson and SK Telecom have conducted a video call over the operator’s live 5G test network, the latest milestone in a long-running partnership.

On this occasion, the companies used 100 MHz of 3.5-GHz spectrum, marking the first time that so much spectrum in this band has been used in a field test. SK Telecom used Ericsson’s commercial radio equipment, based on the 5G New Radio (NR) standard. Ericsson also supplied a test device equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon x50 5G modem. As well as a video call, SK Telecom also demonstrated streaming via a 5G data session.

As has been well documented, South Korea is pushing hard to be a frontrunner on 5G, which might explain Ericsson’s keen involvement with SK Telecom’s research and trials. The two companies have been at the forefront of testing out network slicing, where an access network is subdivided into virtual partitions, with the parameters of each one tailored to meet the requirements of specific services, from low-bandwidth massive IoT connectivity, to low-latency, high-throughput A/VR services. Ericsson and SK Telecom have also trialled multi-vehicular 5G trials in partnership with BMW.

Another explanation for Ericsson’s close involvement with SK Telecom might have something to do with Samsung. The Korean vendor missed the boat on 4G when it backed WiMAX instead of LTE, but it is making a concerted effort to not be left out of 5G. Last year, it unveiled its end-to-end 5G portfolio, and it has struck important partnerships and supply deals, including with SK Telecom, Telefonica, and Verizon.

With South Korea expected to be among the first movers when it comes to 5G commercialisation, Ericsson will want to make sure SK Telecom’s network is adorned with as much of its equipment as possible.

Alex Jinsung Choi, CTO and Head of Corporate R&D Center, SK Telecom, said:

“5G will offer much more than just faster data speeds. It will serve as a true enabler for a whole new variety of powerful services that deliver unprecedented value to customers. Today’s demonstration of 5G-based connected car technologies marks the very first step towards achieving fully autonomous driving in the upcoming era of 5G.”

The test environment was realized by using an Ericsson 5G field trial network. It consists of multiple radio transmission points on 28GHz frequency band to cover the entire track and one user equipment installed in every car. The trials showed consistent Gbps-level throughput with a few millisecond latency. Uninterrupted connectivity, using beam tracking and beam transfer across the different transmission points at speeds exceeding 100 kilometers per hour is also achieved. The performance shown enables multiple connected car use cases such as augmented and virtual reality, obstacle control and vehicle to vehicle communication, based on a system solution including radio and core network infrastructure from Ericsson.

Thomas Norén, Head of Product Area Network Products, Ericsson, said:

“Ericsson is working with leading operators and ecosystem players to drive the realization of 5G – both with today’s pre-standard field trials, and through standardization activities along with global standards bodies and industry groups. The trial takes a step closer to 5G technology and commercialization, especially for connected vehicle applications.”

The trial simultaneously implements new key 5G capabilities with multi-site, multi-transmission point, MU-MIMO, and with multiple devices operating in the millimeter wave frequency band. It demonstrates beam tracking and beam mobility between different 5G access points, at high mobility.

https://www.ericsson.com/en/news/2018/12/sk-telecom-qualcomm-and-ericsson-collaborate-on-5g

https://www.mobileworldlive.com/asia/asia-news/skt-makes-5g-video-call-on-3-5ghz-band/

IHS Markit: Video to Drive Demand for Edge Computing Services

Edge computing will get its primary propulsion from demand for video services, IHS Markit found in a survey. The Linux Foundation commissioned IHS Markit to identify the top apps and revenue opportunities for edge compute services.  Video content delivery was cited by 92% of respondents as the top driver of edge computing, while augmented/virtual reality, autonomous vehicles and the industrial internet of things (IIoT) all tied for second place.

During a keynote address at this week’s Layer123 SDN NFV World Congress at The Hague, IHS Markit’s Michael Howard, executive director research and analysis, carrier networks (and a long time colleague of this author), presented some of the results from the market research firm’s survey of edge compute application survey respondents.

“The edge ‘is in’ these days in conversations, conferences and considerations—and there are many definitions,” Howard wrote in an email to FierceTelecom. “Our conclusion is that there are many edges, but as an industry, I believe we can coalesce around a time-related distance to the end user, device or machine, which indicates a short latency, on which many edge applications rely.  The other major driver for edge compute is big bandwidth, principally video, where caching and content delivery networks save enormous amounts of video traffic on access, metro, and core networks.”

IHS Markit defined edge compute as being within 20 milliseconds of the end user, device or machine. When compared to Internet Exchanges, telcos have an advantage at the edge because they are much closer to the users via their central offices, cell sites, cell backhaul aggregation, fixed backhaul and street cabinets.

Integrated communications providers and over-the-top providers have partial coverage for edge compute with distributed data centers that are within the 20 milliseconds to 50 milliseconds range, while telcos can hit 5 milliseconds to 20 milliseconds.

Among the top services that are driving edge compute, video content delivery, which included 360 video and venues, was first at 92% followed by a three-way tie among autonomous vehicles, augmented reality/virtual reality and industrial internet of things/automated factory all at 83%. Gaming was next at 75%, with distributed virtualized mobile core and fixed access in another tie with private LTE at 58%.

Other findings from the survey:

  • Surveillance and supply chain management each garnered 33%, while smart cities was last at 25%.
  • When it comes to which edge services will garner the most revenue, distributed virtualized mobile core and fixed access, private LTE, gaming, video content delivery and industrial IoT all tied at the top of the survey results.
  • Supply chain management, autonomous vehicles and AR/VR tied in the next grouping while surveillance and smart cities tied for last.
  • Consumer-driven revenue at the edge includes gaming and video content delivery networks while enterprise-driven revenues will include private LTE, industrial IoT and supply chain.
  • Overall, many of the edge deployments will initially be justified by cost savings first followed by revenue-bearing applications.
  • Edge compute apps will start out in limited or contained rollouts with full deployment taking years and investments across several areas, according to the survey.

Although edge compute brings services closer to end users and alleviates bandwidth constraints, it’s complex. Even a single edge compute location is complex with elements of network functions virtualization, mobile edge computing and fixed mobile convergence technologies that can spread across hundreds of thousands locations.

There are also authorization, billing and reconciliation issues that need to be addressed across various domains, which could be resolved using blockchain to create virtual ledgers.

Further, there’s a long investment road ahead to fully deploy edge compute. Areas that comprise the top tier of investments for edge compute include multi-access edge compute, integration, edge connectivity (two-way data flows, SD-WAN services, low latency and bandwidth), 5G spectrum and engineering.

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Earlier this year, AT&T Foundry launched an edge computing test zone in Palo Alto, California, to kick the tires on AR, VR and cloud-driven gaming.  As part of the second phase, AT&T Foundry is expanding its edge test zone footprint to cover all of the San Francisco Bay Area, allowing for increased application mobility and broader collaboration potential.

IDC Directions 2018 Insight: Intelligent Network Edge, SD-WANs & SD-Branch

Introduction:

IDC Directions is the market research firm’s annual conference, which always delivers an informative and actionable overview of the issues shaping the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets.  IDC speakers look at the current state of various markets, cutting edge trends and future IT developments that are likely to result in transformation and change.

This year’s event only had one session on networking which we cover in detail in this article. A total event summary is beyond the scope of the IEEE ComSoc techblog.

Abstract:

As the edge plays host to a growing array of new applications, the focus ultimately turns to edge networking, which must deliver the requisite connectivity, bandwidth, low-latency, and network services for both enterprise and service provider deployments. Indeed, as IoT and other edge services proliferate, a one-size-fits-all approach to edge networking and network security will not suffice. In this session, Brad Casemore of IDC examined the diversity of network requirements and solutions at the edge, covering physical, virtual, and network-as-a-service (NaaS) use cases and application scenarios.

Presentation Highlights:

According to IDC, the “Intelligent Edge” includes both the IT Edge (IT activities performed outside the data center, but within purview of IT) and the OT/Operations Technology Edge (embedded technologies that do not directly generate data for enterprise use, and are outside the direct purview of IT).

That’s in contrast to the “Core,” which is the “IT Data Center” — an information aggregation facility that is located on the firm’s own physical premises, off-premises in a collocation facility, or off-premises at a virtual location such as a public cloud.

Networking at the Intelligent Edge involves three types of sub-networks:

▪ Enterprise Cloud IT Edge (branch networking for the cloud)

▪ Enterprise Branch IT Edge (the evolution of networking at branch offices/remote sites)

▪ IoT Edge (networking to, from, and at the IoT/OT Edge)

Networking provides essential connectivity and bandwidth, but it also provides valuable network and security services that accelerate and optimize application and service performance at the edge.  Brad said that significant innovation is occurring in edge networking which are enabling better business outcomes at the intelligent edge.  Some examples of innovation are:

• Software Defined Networks (SDN)/Intent-based

• Overlay networks (such as SD-WANs)

• Network Virtualization (NV)/Network Function Virtualization (NFV)

• Network security (software-defined perimeter)

As a result, the intelligent edge network is significantly contributing to automated network intelligence, in addition to providing wireless and wireline connectivity services.

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Enterprise IT is being challenged to provide access to public and private clouds while also maintaining secure and effective communications with regional offices and headquarters (usually through an IP-MPLS VPN).

Enterprise WANs are not effective for Cloud access, because they lack agility, flexibility, and efficiency.

These two issues are depicted in the following two IDC figures:

 

As a result, a different Application Centric WAN architecture is needed.  Brad proposed SD-WANs for this purpose, despite the reality there is no standard definition or functionality for SD-WAN and no standards for multi-vendor inter-operability or inter-SD-WAN connections (e.g. UNI or NNI, respectively).  SD-WAN is an overlay network that provides user control via the Application layer, rather than via a “Northbound” API to/from the Control plane (as in conventional SDN).

The use cases for SD-WAN have been well established, including improving application performance by enabling use of multiple WAN links, simplifying WAN architecture, reducing reliance on MPLS, and improving SaaS performance by automatically steering traffic based on application policy instead of back hauling all traffic to the data center.

IDC believes the Internet of Things (IoT) will have a huge impact on networking infrastructure, especially at the edge where low latency/ real time control of IoT devices will be needed.

Casemore said that SD-WANs will help companies overcome issues associated with a traditional enterprise WAN, which wasn’t built for cloud and lacks operational efficiently.

In a real world example of SD-WANs for a medical device supplier, Brad noted the goals were:

• Dynamic access to all available bandwidth (underlays)
• Move away from using relatively expensive MPLS circuits for voice traffic
• Prioritize business-critical cloud apps ahead of nonproduction apps/traffic
• Need for greater visibility –quickly remediate issues and respond to evolving application/service needs

Benefits cited were the following:
• Improved resilience
• Better application performance and availability
• Cost-effective bandwidth utilization
• Better visibility (faster troubleshooting/remediation and proactive planning)
• IT department and network team now contributing to the business of making and shipping products quickly

IDC sees SD-WAN evolving to incorporate more intent based networking and intelligent automation, with business intent consistently applied to application delivery and performance, he said.

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Editor’s Note: Intent-based networking is a hot buzzword in the industry right now, generally describing technology that uses automation and machine learning to implement business policy with little or no human intervention.  Many believe that intelligent automation will be how business intent is applied to application delivery and network performance across the WAN.

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Brad also suggested the following additional attributes for future SD-WANs
▪ Machine Learning and AI – SD-WAN must become cognitive, proactive, and ultimately self-driving, continuously adapting to changing conditions
▪ Pervasive Security – Applications automatically steered over appropriate links and to appropriate security devices.   Secure segmentation provided on a per -application basis.
▪ Stepping stone toward SD-branch

“This is all moving us toward the software-defined (SD)-branch.  SD-WAN serves as the precursor and serves as the essential conduit to SD-branch and network as a service (NaaS) at the edge,” Casemore said.

In the SD-branch, routing, firewall, and WAN optimization are provided as virtual functions in a cloud-like NaaS model, replacing expensive hardware. Management is automated and services can be easily adjusted as business needs change, Casemore said.

IDC believes telcos will use SD-branch to provide virtual CPE and unversal CPE services as per this slide from IDC:

 

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Sidebar on SD-branch from a recent Network World article:

The branch network is a critical piece of the IT infrastructure for most distributed organizations.  The branch network is responsible for providing reliable, high quality communications to and from remote locations. It must be secure, easy to deploy, able to be managed centrally and cost effective.  Requirements for branch networks continue to evolve with needs for increased bandwidth, quality of service, security and support for IoT.

SDN and network virtualization technologies have matured to the point where they can deliver significant benefits for branch networks.  For example, SD-WAN technology is rapidly being deployed to improve the quality of application delivery and reducing operational complexity.  SD-WAN suppliers are rapidly consolidating branch network functions and have reduced (or eliminated) the need for branch routers and WAN optimization.

The most compelling argument for SD-Branch is operational agility. IT organizations can rapidly deploy and provision a network branch-in-a-box solution for new locations.  Via a centralized management console, they can control and adjust all branch network and security functions.

Reducing or eliminating the need for trained IT personnel to visit remote branch locations results in significant cost and time savings. SD-Branch also promises to reduce hardware costs by deploying software on consolidated hardware as compared to many separate appliances.

Other SD-Branch benefits include:

  • Decreased cost of support and maintenance contracts because fewer vendors will be involved.
  • The ability to right-size hardware requirements for each branch thanks to software virtualization.
  • A smaller hardware footprint, which is ideal for space-constrained branches.
  • Network performance scalability. As network requirements change, the performance of any function can be tuned up or down by changing processor allocation or adding hardware resources.
  • Lower power consumption because one power-efficient platform replaces many appliances.

Over time the SD-Branch will be easier to deploy, less complex to manage, and more responsive to changing requirements at the branch.  The cost benefits in CAPEX and OPEX could be significant as the technology matures.

The broader concept of SD-Branch is still in its early stages.  During 2018, we will see a number of suppliers introduce their SD-Branch solutions.  These initial SD-Branch implementations will primarily be single-vendor and may lack state-of-the-art technology in some applications.

IT leaders should carefully evaluate the benefits of the SD-Branch architecture.   Migration to SD-Branch will likely require significant changes to the existing branch network and may require a forklift upgrade.  SD-Branch suppliers should be evaluated on their current and near-future technology, technology partnerships (e.g. security), and deployment options (do it yourself, channel partners, and managed solutions).

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Brad believes that SD-branch is inevitable.  He provided the following rationale for that:

▪SD-Branch will be enabled by SD-WAN overlays
▪ SD-WAN will be integral component of SD-Branch, but latter will include other
virtualized (perhaps containerized) network/security services
▪ Automated provisioning, management, and orchestration results in SD-Branch that
yields dynamic network as a service (NaaS)
• Network and security services added or modified as needed
• Results in CapEx savings (separate hardware appliances no longer need for each network
function)
• Network operating costs are lower, minimized need for branch IT
• Provisioning is far more agile, resulting in faster time to revenue/business outcome
▪ It’s not enough to have virtual network appliances
• Virtual appliances are still appliances architecturally
• SD-Branch gets us to cloud-like NaaS at the branch/remote office

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IDC Prediction: Edge IT goes mainstream in 2022, displacing 80% of existing edge appliances.

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IDC’s Essential Guidance for Users:

  • Consider the role and value of the network not just in terms of connectivity, but in how it can contribute to intelligence at the edge.
  • Look for edge-networking solutions that abstract management complexity, provide application-centric automation, speed provisioning, and ensure application availability and security.
  • Ensure your intelligent-edge network evolves to a NaaS model, in which virtualized network and security services are dynamically provisioned as needed. The edge network must be as agile as the apps/services it supports.

IDC’s Essential Guidance for Suppliers:

  • Continually enhanced intelligent network automation and orchestration to reduce operational complexity and provide network agility.
  • Leverage ML/AI as means to the end goal of providing increasingly actionable visibility that loops back to feed intent/policy and allows for proactive remediation.
  • Provide for true NaaS at the intelligent edge, incorporating a full range of virtualized network and network-security services (through ecosystem partnerships).

 

 

 

Highlights of 2017 Telecom Infrastructure Project (TIP) Summit

Executive Summary:

The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) is gaining a lot of awareness and market traction, judging by last week’s very well attended TIP Summit at the Santa Clara Convention Center.  The number of telecom network operators presented was very impressive, especially considering that none were from the U.S. with the exception of AT&T, which presented on behalf of the Open Compute Project (OCP) Networking Group.   It was announced at the summit that the OCP Networking group had formed an alliance with TIP.

The network operators that presented or were panelists included representatives from:  Deutsche Telekom AG, Telefonica, BT, MTN Group (Africa),  Bharti Airtel LTD (India), Reliance Jio (India), Vodafone, Turkcell (Turkey), Orange, SK Telecom, TIM Brasil, etc.  Telecom Italia, NTT, and others were present too.   Cable Labs – the R&D arm of the MSOs/cablecos – was represented in a panel where they announced a new TIP Community Lab (details below).

Facebook co-founded TIP along with Intel, Nokia, Deutsche Telekom, and SK Telecom at the 2016 Mobile World Congress event.  Like the OCP (also started by Facebook), its mission is to dis-aggregate network hardware into modules and define open source software building blocks. As its name implies, TIP’s focus is telecom infrastructure specific in its work to develop and deploy new networking technologies. TIP members include more than 500 companies, including telcos, Internet companies, vendors, consulting firms and system integrators.  Membership seems to have grown exponentially in the last year.

Image result for quotes from 2017 Telecom Infrastructure Project (TIP) summit

During his opening keynote speech, Axel Clauberg, VP of technology and innovation at Deutsche Telekom and chairman of the TIP Board of Directors, announced that three more operators had joined the TIP Board: BT, Telefonica, and Vodafone.

“TIP is truly operator-focused,” Clauberg said. “It’s called Telecom Infrastructure Project, and I really count on the operators to continue contributing to TIP and to take us to new heights.” That includes testing and deploying the new software and hardware contributed to TIP, he added.

“My big goal for next year is to get into the deployment stage,” Clauberg said. “We are working on deployable technology. [In 2018] I want to be measured on whether we are successfully entering that stage.”

Jay Parikh, head of engineering and infrastructure at Facebook, echoed that TIP’s end goal is deployments, whether it is developing new technologies, or supporting the ecosystem that will allow them to scale.

“It is still very early. Those of you who have been in the telco industry for a long time know that it does not move lightning fast. But we’re going to try and change that,” Parikh said.

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TIP divides its work into three areas — access, backhaul, and core & management — and each of the project groups falls under one of those three areas.  Several new project groups were announced at the summit:

  • Artificial Intelligence and applied Machine Learning (AI/ML): will focus on using machine learning and automation to help carriers keep pace with the growth in network size, traffic volume, and service complexity. It will also work to accelerate deployment of new over-the-top services, autonomous vehicles, drones, and augmented reality/virtual reality.
  • End-to-End Network Slicing (E2E-NS): aims to create multiple networks that share the same physical infrastructure. That would allow operators to dedicate a portion of their network to a certain functionality and should make it easier for them to deploy 5G-enabled applications.
  • openRAN: will develop RAN technologies based on General Purpose Processing Platforms (GPPP) and disaggregated software.

The other projects/working groups are the following:

  • Edge Computing: This group is addressing system integration requirements with innovative, cost-effective and efficient end-to-end solutions that serve rural and urban regions in optimal and profitable ways.
  •  This group is pioneering a 60GHz wireless networking system to deliver gigabits of capacity in dense, urban environments more quickly, easily and at a lower cost than deploying fiber.  A contribution was made to IEEE 802.11ay task force this year on use cases for mmW backhaul.

TIP-WS_MWC_Contribution_MMWave_Ku_v.001

Above illustration courtesy of TIP mmW Networks Group

  • Open Optical Packet Transport:  This project group will define Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) open packet transport architecture that triggers new innovation and avoids implementation lock-ins. Open DWDM systems include open line system & control, transponder & network management and packet-switch and router technologies.
  • The Working Group is focused on enabling carriers to more efficiently deliver new services and applications by using mobile edge computing (MEC) to turn the RAN network edge (mobile, fixed, licensed and unlicensed spectrum) into an open media and service hub.
  • The project is pioneering a virtualized RAN (VRAN) solution comprised of low-cost remote radio units that can be managed and dynamically reconfigured by a centralized infrastructure over non-ideal transport.
  • project group will develop an open RAN architecture by defining open interfaces between internal components and focusing on the lab activity with various companies for multi-vendor interoperability. The goal is to broaden the mobile ecosystem of related technology companies to drive a faster pace of innovation.

A complete description, with pointers/hyperlinks to respective project/work group charters is in the TIP Company Member Application here.

TEACs –  Innovation Centers for TIP:

Also of note was the announcement of several new TEACs – TIP Ecosystem Acceleration Centers, where start-ups and investors can work together with incumbent network operators to progress their respective agendas for telecom infrastructure.

The TIP website comments on the mission of the TEACs:

“By bringing together the key actors – established operators, cutting-edge startups, and global & local investors – TEACs establish the necessary foundation to foster collaboration, accelerate trials, and bring deployable infrastructure solutions to the telecom industry.”

TEACs are located in London (BT), Paris (Orange), and Seoul (SK Telecom). .

TIP Community Labs:

TIP Community Labs are physical spaces that enable collaboration between member companies in a TIP project group to develop telecom infrastructure solutions. While the labs are dedicated to TIP projects and host TIP project teams, the space and basic equipment are sponsored by individual TIP member companies hosting the space.  The labs are located in: Seoul, South Korea (sponsored by SK Telecom); Bonn, Germany (sponsored by Deutsche Telekom); Menlo Park, California, USA (sponsored by Facebook). Coming Soon Rio de Janiero, Brazil – to be sponsored by TIM Brasil.  At this summit, Cable Labs announced it will soon open a TIP Community Lab in Louisville, CO.

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Selected Quotes:

AT&T’s Tom Anschutz (a very respected colleague) said during his November 9th – 1pm keynote presentation:

“Network functions need to be disaggregated and ‘cloudified.’  We need to decompose monolithic, vertically integrated systems into building blocks; create abstraction layers that hide complexity.  Design code and hardware as independent modules that don’t bring down the entire IT system/telecom network if they fail.”

Other noteworthy quotes:

“We’re going to build these use-case demonstrations,” said Mansoor Hanif, director of converged networks and innovation at BT. “If you’re going to do something as difficult and complex as network slicing, you might as well do it right.”

“This is the opening of a system that runs radio as a software on top of general purpose processes and interworks with independent radio,” said Santiago Tenorio, head of networks at Vodafone Group. The project will work to reduce the costs associated with building mobile networks and make it easier for smaller vendors to enter the market.  “By opening the system will we get a lower cost base? Definitely yes,” absolutely yes,” Tenorio added.

“Opening up closed, black-box systems enables innovation at every level, so that customers can meet the challenges facing their networks faster and more efficiently,” said Josh Leslie, CEO of Cumulus Networks. “We’re excited to work with the TIP community to bring open systems to networks beyond the data center.” [See reference press release from Cumulus below].

“Open approaches are key to achieving TIP’s mission of disaggregating the traditional network deployment approach,” said Hans-Juergen Schmidtke, Co-Chair of the TIP Open Optical Packet Transport project group. “Our collaboration with Cumulus Networks to enable Cumulus Linux on Voyager (open packet DWDM architecture framework and white box transponder design) is an important contribution that will help accelerate the ecosystem’s adoption of Voyager.”

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Closing Comments:  Request for Reader Inputs!

  1.  What’s really interesting is that there are no U.S. telco members of TIP.  Bell Canada is the only North American telecom carrier among its 500 members. Equinix and Cable Labs are the only quasi- network operator members in the U.S.
  2. Rather than write a voluminous report which few would read, we invite readers to contact the author or post a comment on areas of interest after reviewing the 2017 TIPS Summit agenda.

 

References:

TIP Summit 2017

An Update from TIP Summit 2017

News

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20171108005571/en/Cumulus-Networks-Telecom-Infra-Project-TIP-Collaborate

https://www.devex.com/news/telecom-industry-tries-new-tactics-to-connect-the-unconnected-91492

 

 

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