At Mobile World Congress 2017, executives from around the globe will share their insights on, among other things, the topics of network functions virtualization (NFV) and mobile edge computing (MEC).
Grant Lenahan, principal analyst with Appledore Research Group, is chairing the panel, which will feature executives from ETSI, Cisco, and Red Hat, among others. They’ll be discussing where NFV migrations stand and what is being done in open source versus proprietary solutions.
Two big U.S.-based telcos, AT&T and Verizon, are in the midst of building telco clouds and creating the frameworks to handle virtual network functions (VNFs). Verizon, for instance is running a Red Hat OpenStack cloud.
And Chris Rice, SVP at AT&T Labs, recently said the company’s Enhanced Control, Orchestration, and Management Platform (ECOMP) is divided into 11 modules, and each of those modules can fit into a virtual machine (with containers inside those VMs). And a module can be installed in an OpenStack cloud in 15 minutes.
In addition to NFV, an emerging topic — mobile edge computing (MEC) — is getting some air time at this year’s Mobile World Congress.
Peter Jarich, VP of consumer infrastructure services with Current Analysis, is leading a session, entitled “5G Beyond the Hype: Value and Building Blocks.” Panelists at that session will explore some of the basic building blocks of 5G, and one of those building blocks is MEC.
“MEC uses a lot of NFV infrastructure to create a small cloud at the edge,” according to Lior Fite, CEO of Saguna, which is a vendor of MEC technology.
Participants on the 5G panel at MWC will include representatives from telecom equipment providers such as Nokia, Huawei, and Ericsson. And an executive from Vasona Networks will be sharing insights from that company’s work in MEC.
Fite described MEC as a “tiny data center” that lives at the edge of the network. And MEC companies such as Saguna and Vasona hope to tap into a whole new MEC market.
According to Jim Poole, VP of ecosystem business development at Equinix, MEC computing software does need to live closer to the data. “It could be in remote locations that would sit at the base of the tower,” says Poole. However, Equinix is also positioning itself as a MEC player. “This concept of MEC, many times that lives inside of Equinix,” Poole says. “If you were to map our facilities, we’re usually 8 milliseconds or less from 90 percent of the population. In many cases, you can stage that infrastructure out of one of our buildings.”
And companies such as EdgeConnex may be particularly primed to take advantage of MEC. EdgeConnex builds smaller-scale data centers with interconnection. Many of its data centers are located in commercial buildings across North America.
“Our secret sauce is our relationships with all these buildings,” says EdgeConnex Chief Architect and VP of Innovation Phill Lawson-Shanks. “We saw a need for a different type of data center architecture. Data centers have built enormous sheds (if we build it they will come). We build where people need it and build it quickly and bring in an ecosystem to support it.”
Finally, at MWC there’s a session entitled “Disruption at the Network Edge,” where panelists from companies involved in backhaul and fronthaul of mobile traffic will talk about “radical reinvention of technology” to handle the exponential growth in traffic.
One of the panelists at that session will be Steve Papa, CEO of Parallel Wireless, a company that has set out to reimagine the radio access network (RAN). It’s working on pooling wireless resources to help wireless carriers manage mobile edge content delivery.