With the continuous advancement of the country’s new infrastructure strategy, domestic 5G network construction has entered a stage of rapid development. At the same time, as an innovative practice of 5G network reconstruction, the attention of MEC edge computing is also increasing.
MEC edge computing reflects the industry trend of cloud-network integration. It uses connection and computing as the entry point to sink high-bandwidth, low-latency, and localized services to the network edge, helping to achieve 5G key performance indicators, and also providing a starting point for 5G to enter vertical industries.
Behind MEC edge computing, there is huge commercial value. The entire ICT industry hopes to participate in value mining.
In particular, telecom operators, as the construction and operator of traditional communication networks, hope to take advantage of this opportunity and rely on their own telecom assets to build edge cloud platforms, create new business models and business growth points, and transform into digital service providers.
So what are the key elements if operators want to gain a head start on this new track and ultimately succeed?
On June 28, at the China Unicom & Intel MEC developer seminar, experts from China Unicom, Intel, Red Hat, and VisionCloud shared their wonderful insights on this issue.
According to experts, the key to the success or failure of edge computing lies in the ecology. If you can’t create a good ecological environment and attract a large number of developers, then the success of edge computing will be impossible.
How can we promote the prosperity of the edge computing ecosystem?
Architecture layout of edge cloud platform
First of all, there must be a strong enough platform support.
China Unicom is a pioneer in the field of 5G MEC edge cloud. They have been committed to the independent research and development of key edge computing technologies, and actively promote the industrial chain development of the MEC edge cloud system. The first fully commercial edge cloud platform in China comes from China Unicom (released for commercial use on April 29 this year).
At present, China Unicom’s edge cloud network has built more than 1,000 layout and field-level MEC edge computing nodes across the country, covering 334 cities, which can quickly provide edge computing access services for industry users.
The reason why China Unicom can maintain such a high construction efficiency is closely related to their platform architecture design.
China Unicom’s edge cloud adopts a three-level hierarchical architecture system to achieve “one point of innovation, national replication”.
Architecture of China Unicom’s Edge Cloud
The highest-level core data center (global center) is deployed with a set of MEAO (National Unified MEC Application Orchestration System) to perform unified global scheduling of edge resources. MEAO also connects with the Group’s OSS, BSS, government and enterprise marketing portal, NFVO, and unified cloud management, and provides an open interface for developers and customers to upload business capabilities and applications.
The regional center computer room deployed in each province is the core of China Unicom’s MEC business incubation base, where MEPM, MEP and other systems or network elements are deployed. MEPM (Multi-Access Edge Platform Manager) is the actual carrier of MEAO’s scheduling capabilities. It has the ability of regional autonomy, which can support operation and maintenance personnel to manage all edge data centers in the region, and can also control edge resources.
The bottommost edge computer room, corresponding to the core/aggregation/site access computer room nodes in various cities, can provide various underlying capabilities, such as GPU acceleration, persistent storage, etc., and on this basis, it integrates CT and IT’s VAS capability, IP offload capability and DNS offload capability.
China Unicom’s edge cloud platform has strong business carrying capacity and efficient management and orchestration efficiency, which is backed by the strong support of basic software and hardware platforms and technologies.
In terms of software, China Unicom has independently developed an operation platform. Based on the collaboration of edge platform orchestrators and managers, it has realized the overall scheduling and unified management of resources, as well as the seamless connection of cloud-edge collaboration at different levels.
In order to have a more efficient orchestration capability in a multi-cloud and cross-platform environment and reduce the complexity of the platform and network infrastructure, China Unicom’s self-developed edge platform refers to Intel’s open source software suite OpenNESS, which is based on a microservice architecture and integrates new hardware enhancements. , open source technologies, and rich toolkits can help users develop edge applications more agilely.
Intel’s Open Source Software Suite OpenNESS Architecture
In terms of hardware, China Unicom’s edge cloud platform uses Intel’s next-generation computer room overall solution NGCO as the carrier, and integrates servers with Xeon scalable processors, Optane persistent memory, Intel Ethernet network adapters and other products, with strong performance and flexible deployment.
It is worth mentioning that the architecture of China Unicom’s edge cloud platform strictly follows the specifications and standards of 3GPP and ETSI. On this basis, it has also been expanded and extended. For example, network security, UPF decoupling, and interface opening have all been further enhanced.
Ecological introduction of edge cloud
A strong platform is the premise of building an ecology, and how to attract the ecology is the key to the problem.
In order to attract more developers to join the 5G MEC edge computing application development, China Unicom established and opened the MEC ecological developer platform.
In the platform, China Unicom advocates three openings, namely capability opening, technology opening, and tool opening.
In terms of capability opening, China Unicom has opened up various capabilities such as edge network, shared AI platform, general video codec and IoT platform management.
In terms of technology opening, China Unicom insists on opening capabilities in ICT-IaaS, acceleration devices and edge interfaces carried by applications, and is compatible with open source standards. China Unicom is also working with Intel to make the platform lighter and achieve high availability, while maintaining platform interface standards. Many applications can be seamlessly migrated to edge platforms.
In terms of tool opening, China Unicom supports developers from source code to complete the design, development, verification and launch of edge applications, and supports code hosting, code construction, continuous integration, continuous delivery, mirror warehouse, etc. A series of key capabilities are developed to provide a full range of incubation tools.
At the same time, China Unicom has also developed the ability to make and scan edge application packages, allowing developers to create edge packages by themselves and customize some configurations based on the original applications.
Joint Guarantee and Win-Win Benefits of Edge Cloud
In addition to building a powerful edge cloud platform and making every effort to introduce ecosystems, China Unicom also protects and motivates edge cloud developers from joint guarantees and win-win benefits.
In terms of joint security, China Unicom’s edge cloud provides operation monitoring, operation and maintenance monitoring, a joint unified response center and partner support portals, and supports centralized management and business support after the ecosystem goes online in terms of operation and maintenance, operation, and automated response, ensuring that Landing and demand feedback loops for MEC applications.
In terms of revenue and win-win, China Unicom follows the principles of “opening capability, incubation innovation, scale replication, and revenue sharing”, and provides MEC edge business developers with rich market returns such as “innovative business incubation funds”.
Garnter, a well-known research organization in the industry, believes that by 2022, 65% of data will be stored and processed in edge data centers. In the next 1-3 years, edge computing will enter a period of large-scale commercial deployment. IDC predicts that there will be more than 50 billion terminals and devices connected to the Internet in 2020, and the edge computing market will exceed one trillion.
There is no doubt that edge computing contains huge market value. And ecology is the primary tool to tap this huge value.
Without ecology, edge computing cannot succeed. To build a prosperous ecosystem, we need to stand from the perspective of developers and provide developers with a full range of technical support and rights protection, so that developers can join the ecosystem with peace of mind and jointly create value around edge clouds.
Those who win the ecology win the world. The active practices of China Unicom and Intel have pointed out the direction for the success of edge computing.