With the launch of 5G networks in 2019, both vertical and refined fields have become the new service growth point, and among which the edge side is the most attracting focus.
The edge glory originates from the diversification of 5G application scenarios. In order to meet the high bandwidth, low delay and huge connection requirements of AR/VR, IoT, industry automation, manless driving and related new services, more and more NEs start to separate control planes from forwarding planes, perform hierarchical deployment and centralized dispatch of control planes, user planes are distributed near the users, so as to realize the balancing between management costs and user experience. Meanwhile, in order to effectively realize service anchor offloading, shortens service response time and exposes communication capability of traditional mobile network, MEC concept is fully introduced.
In the recent World Telecom and Information Society Conference and MEC technology and industry forum, Zhu Kun, Chief Engineer of ZTE Edge Computing Product said, it is inevitable to use cloudification technology to perform distributed edge reconstruction of 5G infrastructure. In 5G era, edge computing has already become one of the key technologies to support operators in 5G transformation, ZTE shall continuously explore the cooperation with vertical industries, build rich edge application ecosphere, and usher in the intelligent 5G service era.
Multiple solutions meet the edge deployment
Introduced by Mr. Zhu, distributed cloud is composed of central cloud and edge cloud. Edge cloud includes cities, counties, and base stations. Central cloud is defined as the brain and center, mainly controls/manages centralized media plane NEs; Edge cloud mainly bears distributed deployment of user plane/media plane NEs to realize fast unloading of traffic, as well as NEs with high real-time requirements to optimize user experience, such as HD video, Internet of Vehicles, VR/AR etc services.
As its particularity of location, scale and environment, edge cloud is featured with specific HW architecture, convergent resource pool, highly integrated deployment and uniform O&M. ZTE launched the virtualized platform with powerful computing and storage capability in the network edge to meet edge deployment of different application types.
Take the recent launched new ES600S MEC as an example, Mr. Zhu said, this server is configured with the latest Intel XEON® Scalable processor, which provides strong computing and storage resources platform with high density and low power consumption in edge equipment room in hostile environment, cooperating with FPGA and GPU etc HW accelerator cards.
ZTE MEC solution provides rich network infrastructure services, providing locating service, IoT equipment accessing and management service, video service etc for the 3rdparties. It also accesses massive edge equipment to the platform, provides sorting and refining of basic data, accelerates edge applications development, which is convenient for both operators and the 3rdparties to build edge vertical applications.
Now, ZTE has developed closed cooperation with three domestic operators, and performed different pilot projects, such as wisdom business, wisdom school, intelligent factory, VR/AR, manless driving etc, which accumulates rich networking deployment and implementation experience.
Trial application：unlock “1+4” industry scenarios
In the industry, “commercial mode takes the lead in the 5G edge implementation” has become a consensus, Mr. Zhu thinks the support of vertical industry is indispensable for the large-scale deployment of edge computing, therefore, ZTE has particularly focused on edge service implementation in the application scenarios fields from the beginning, now ZTE has developed the “1+4” scenario modes.
“1” refers to the wireless services of operators, such as high-precision indoor positioning, wireless network information service capabilities, wireless intelligent network optimization, ORAN applications, and video TCP acceleration services.
“4” refers to four major industry application fields including big video, smart manufacturing, smart grid, and Internet of Vehicles.
In the field of big video, Mr. Zhu believes that video services, especially evolution of CDN to Living VOD and evolution of cloud games to AR games, are good practices. With MEC, by deploying UPF to the network edge, video-based traffic can be forwarded to the application at the edge that is close to the user.
In the field of intelligent manufacturing, ZTE has already piloted many typical scenarios. For example, the factory park, through 5G+MEC, realizes the traffic offload in the site and provides local quasi-private network instead of the park Wi-Fi and wired network; through MEC+ industrial AR, it realizes auxiliary inspection and assembly; through MEC+AGV, it realizes multi-AGV linkage control by controlling the video and analyzing image features. With the continuous development of the business, the applications of edge computing to real-time control of field devices, remote maintenance and control, industrial HD image processing and other industrial applications will gradually increase and popularize.
In the field of smart grid, Mr. Zhu believes that the development and improvement of technologies based on MEC and 5G network slicing provides a new way to realize the safe isolation of power grid user experience from business reliability.
The field of Internet of Vehicles is the most concerned MEC implementation scene in the industry. Mr. Zhu said that the Internet of Vehicles provides an integrated low-latency, high-efficiency network from the vehicle’s internal and external sensors to the roadside RSU public information. It can also provide intelligent decision-making, which is an important application loading and evolution direction for edge computing in the future.
In addition, new retail, unmanned shops, and smart retailing are being implemented through MEC in the domestic and international markets. Mr. Zhu said that these scenarios reduce the human expenditure by introducing video structured analysis and big data processing, and achieve the expected goal of precision logistics through the big data analysis portrait of customer’s consumption.
With respect to smart city, a large number of video analysis services in the public security field reduce the bandwidth of the backhaul network and the pressure of the cloud by introducing edge computing. Smart city administration and environmental monitoring can, through the edge computing, empower micro-base stations to be able to achieve efficient and flexible management and video linkage of massive environmental collection sites.
Mr. Zhu said, from the perspective of ZTE’s practice, Internet of Vehicles, smart grid, and smart city may be the industries where edge computing is applied in advance.
Two challenges to be addressed
However, due to the complex architecture of the edge computing platform and the numerous technologies involved, no unified architecture, no unified platform or API currently exists. Therefore, Mr. Zhu pointed out that the development of 5G edge industry also needs the continuous promotion made by standardization and regulation organizations and the industry.
In addition, Zhu Xi believes that the biggest challenge of edge computing in the 5G era comes from two aspects.
First, the business model still needs to be explored. In the 5G era, edge computing can be used as a unified service platform to undertake applications under multiple access modes. MEC can provide a good platform and convergence nodes for service providers, industry applications and infrastructures in the future. It can incubate more innovative businesses and applications, and bring new business models while providing customers with a better experience. Therefore, this is both an opportunity and a challenge.
The second aspect is the reconstruction of the system architecture brought about by the change of network architecture. Mr. Zhu pointed out that it contains two meanings. First, with respect to the application system, the majority of existing mobile Internet applications adopt the “end-cloud architecture”. Afterwards, MEC comes into being, so a large number of application systems need to be reconstructed into “end-edge-cloud” architecture. Another meaning is the impact on the organizational structure of existing enterprises. MEC may bring about aspects such as operation and maintenance, network management, business development, how to integrate with industry requirements, and how the organizational structure of the enterprise adapts to the changes brought about by new technologies and new architectures.
“For a long time, ZTE has been committed to building an intelligent, 5G-oriented smooth evolution network for operators and providing its customers with diversified applications.” By facing the development of 5G fixed-mobile convergence services and the evolution of network cloudification, Mr. Zhu stressed, ZTE will not only continue to promote the key technology and industry standardization process in standard organizations, but also further improve the virtualization of edge platforms and the openness of network capabilities. ZTE will also gradually expand the types and pilot scope of edge cloud services to help operations deploy edge cloud in a large scale in the 5G era.