The definition of what is edge computing or multi-access edge computing (MEC) is essentially a cloud-based IT service environment at the edge of the network. MEC is a computing and network architecture that brings real-time, high-bandwidth, low-latency access to latency dependent applications are distributed at the edge of the network, close to uses and apps that use them. This allows for a new class of cloud-native applications and for network operators to open their networks to a new ecosystem and value chain. MEC permits multiple types of access at the edge, including wireline.
In September 2016, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute’s (ETSI’s) Mobile Edge Computing group changed the name of Mobile Edge Computing name after tech leaders saw that the benefits of this edge computing technology reached beyond mobile and into Wi-Fi and fixed access technologies. “The name change conveniently allows ETSI to retain the MEC acronym, which has become widely recognized among stakeholders in the industry,” ETSI stated in a press release.
What is Edge Computing / Multi-Access Edge Computing and its Use Cases
The primary goal of edge or multi-access edge computing is to reduce network congestion and improve application performance by achieving related task processing closer to the user. Further, it aims to improve 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 are also excellent beneficiaries of MEC. In large-scale situations where localized venue services are important, content is delivered to onsite consumers from a MEC server located at the venue. The content is locally stored, processed, and delivered—not requiring a backhaul or centralized core network. Large enterprises are also increasingly motivated to process users locally rather than backhaul traffic to a central network, using small cell networks instead.
Nokia provides a helpful look at Multi-Access Edge Computing applications, and Juniper Networks offers some explanations on what is multi-access edge computing uses cases and deployment options.
The Rise of Edge Computing
An emerging technology that lets operators host content and applications close to the edge of the network, MEC brings new levels of performance and access to mobile, wireless, and wired networks. The technology has the potential to upgrade today’s networking environment and evolve the market quickly into the IoT future.