Edge computing is a general term for a cloud-based IT service environment located at the edge of a network.Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) is edge computing’s standard architecture created by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute’s (ETSI’s) MEC group.
The purpose of edge computing and MEC is to bring real-time, high-bandwidth, low-latency access to latency-dependent applications, distributed at the edge of the network. Since edge computing is closer to the end user and apps, it allows for a new class of cloud-native applications, and allows network operators to open their networks to a new ecosystem and value chain.
While MEC was previously called “Mobile Edge Computing,” in March 2017, the ETSI MEC group and its associated standard replaced “mobile” with “multi-access” in response to emerging benefits of edge computing technology that reached beyond mobile networks and into Wi-Fi and fixed access technologies.
Edge Computing Use Cases
The primary goal of edge computing is to reduce network congestion and improve application performance by executing related task processing closer to the end user, improving the delivery of content and applications to those users.
Use cases already being realized include: augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), which benefit from lightning-fast response times and low latency communications; connected cars, which also thrive in high-bandwidth, low-latency, highly available settings; and other Internet of Things (IoT) applications that rely on high performance and smart utilization of network resources.
Large public venues and enterprise organizations also benefit from edge computing. In large-scale situations where localized venue services are important, content is delivered to onsite consumers from an edge server located at the venue. The content is locally stored, processed, and delivered — not requiring a backhaul or centralized core network. Enterprises are increasingly motivated to use small cell networks to transmit data at sizable locations like offices, campuses, or stadiums.
MEC deployment across different enterprise networks. Source: ETSI
The Rise of Edge Computing
Edge computing is an emerging technology that lets operators host content and applications close to the edge of the network. It also brings new levels of performance and access to mobile, wireless, and wired networks. The technology is routinely mentioned in conversations about the infrastructure of 5G networks, particularly for handling the massive amounts of IoT devices (commercial and industrial) that are constantly connected to the network.
Updated April 2019