German telecom giant Deutsche Telekom and Aricent threw their collective weight behind an open source edge computing platform targeted at software-defined data centers (SDDC). The initiative gamely joins a growing list of open source multi-access edge computing (MEC) initiatives.
The DT-Aricent collaboration is at its core a decentralized platform designed to help telecom operators develop and launch low-latency 5G mobile applications and services. It includes a software framework with features delivered through a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) model.
Shamik Mishra, assistant vice president of technology and innovation at Aricent, said the two companies have been working on this project for some time. He referenced DT’s work through its hub:raum incubator program in Germany.
Following those efforts, Mishra said the companies wanted to open source the software aspect to draw in developers from the cloud-native community and allow them to become more familiar with the needs of the telecom market.
“These developers don’t understand or are not interested in the complexity of the telco edge,” Mishra said. “They are used to public clouds where they can just go and launch an application in two steps. If they have to come to the telco edge, they have to have less friction. This works toward having less friction.”
The platform currently relies on a tiered deployment architecture with separate edge, central control, and management systems. Mishra said the plan is to eventually have a more automated and seamless architecture that can handle different use cases. Select components of the framework will be made available next year.
Open MEC Battlefield
The collaboration joins a growing list of open source initiatives targeting different aspects of the MEC space. These include the Open Edge Initiative, OpenFog, EdgeX, OnLine Networks, and the Akraino Project.
Mishra said that the market is still in its early stages and that many of these other projects target specific edge use cases. He said this allows for a number of initiatives to focus on different aspects of the market.
“To expect just one project to oversee all of the edge use cases is not practical,” Mishra said. “There could be certain layers that are common and then more specific layers to serve specific verticals.”
Mishra admitted that Aricent’s work with DT has some commonalities with other projects but that Aricent was interested in collaborating “with all of them.”
“We can help solve each other’s problems,” Mishra said. “Eventually adoption will be based on business decisions and deployment models. There is no reason we can’t work together on the underlying platforms.”