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Innovation at the Telco Edge

 

Imagine watching the biggest football game of the year being streamed to your Virtual Reality headset, and just as your team is about to score, your VR headset freezes due to latency in the network, and you miss the moment!

While this may be a trivial inconvenience, there are other scenarios that can have serious consequential events such as a self-driving car not stopping at a stop sign because of high latency networks.

The rapid growth of applications and services such as Internet of Things, Vehicle to Everything communications and Virtual Reality is driving the massive growth of data in the network that will demand real-time processing at the edge of the network closer to the user that will deliver faster speeds and reduced latency when compared to 4G LTE networks.

Edge computing will be critical in ensuring that low-latency and high reliability applications can be successfully deployed in 4G and 5G networks.

For CSPs, deploying a distributed cloud architecture where compute power is pushed to the network edge, closer to the user or device, offers improved performance in terms of latency, jitter, and bandwidth and ultimately a higher Quality of Experience.

Delivering services at the edge will enable CSPs to realize significant benefits, including:

  • Reduced backhaul traffic by keeping required traffic processing and content at the edge instead of sending it back to the core data center
  • New revenue streams by offering their edge cloud premises to 3rd party application developers allowing them to develop new innovative services
  • Reduced costs with the optimization of infrastructure being deployed at the edge and core data centers
  • Improved network reliability and application availability

Edge Computing Use Cases

According to a recent report by TBR, CSP spend on Edge compute infrastructure will grow at a 76.5% CAGR from 2018 to 2023 and exceed $67B in 2023.  While AR/VR/Autonomous Vehicle applications are the headlining edge use cases, many of the initial use cases CSPs will be deploying at the edge will focus on network cost optimization, including infrastructure virtualization, real estate footprint consolidation and bandwidth optimization. These edge use cases include:

Mobile User Plane at the Edge

A Control Plane and User Plane Separation (CUPS) architecture delivers the ability to scale the user plane and control plane independent of each other.  Within a CUPS architecture, CSPs can place user plane functionality closer to the user thereby providing optimized processing and ultra-low latency at the edge, while continuing to manage control plane functionality in a centralized data center.  An additional benefit for CSPs is the reduction of backhaul traffic between the end device and central data center, as that traffic can be processed right at the edge and offloaded to the internet when necessary.

Virtual CDN

Content Delivery Network was one of the original edge use cases, with content cached at the edge to provide an improved subscriber user experience.  However, with the exponential growth of video content being streamed to devices, the scaling of dedicated CDN hardware can become increasingly difficult and expensive to maintain.  With a Virtualized CDN (vCDN), CSPs can deploy capacity at the edge on-demand to meet the needs of peak events while maximizing infrastructure efficiency while minimizing costs.

Private LTE

Enterprise applications such as industrial manufacturing, transportation, and smart city applications have traditionally relied on Wi-Fi and fixed-line services for connectivity and communications.  These applications require a level of resiliency, low-latency and high-speed networks that cannot be met with existing network infrastructure. To deliver a network that can provide the flexibility, security and reliability, CSPs can deploy dedicated mobile networks (Private LTE) at the enterprise to meet the requirements of the enterprise.  Private LTE deployments includes all the data plane and control plane components needed to manage a scaled-out network where mobile sessions do not leave the enterprise premises unless necessary.

VMware Telco Edge Reference Architecture

Fundamentally, VMware Telco Edge is based on the following design principles:

  • Common Platform

VMware provides a flexible deployment architecture based on a common infrastructure platform that is optimized for deployments across the Edge data centers and Core data centers.  With centralized management and a single pane of glass for monitoring network infrastructure across the multiple clouds, CSPs will have consistent networking, operations and management across their cloud infrastructure.

  • Centralized Management

VMware Telco Edge is designed to have a centralized VMware Integrated OpenStack VIM at the core data center while the edge sites do not need to have any OpenStack instances.  With zero OpenStack components present at the Edge sites, CSPs will gain massive improvements in network manageability, upgrades, scale, and operational overhead. This centralized management at the Core data center gives CSPs access to all the Edge sites without having to connect to individual Edge sites to manage their resources.

  • Multi-tenancy and Advanced Networking

Leveraging the existing vCloud NFV design, the Telco Edge can be deployed in a multi-tenant environment with resource guarantees and resource isolation with each tenant having an independent view of their network and capacity and management of their underlying infrastructure and overlay networking. The Edge sites support overlay networking which makes them easier to configure and offers zero trust through NSX multi-segmentation.

  • Superior Performance

VMware NSX managed Virtual Distributed Switch in Enhanced Data Path mode (N-VDS (E)) leverages hardware-based acceleration (SR-IOV/Direct-PT) and DPDK techniques to provide the fastest virtual switching fabric on vSphere. Telco User Plane Functions (UPFs) that require lower latency and higher throughput at the Edge sites can run on hosts configured with N-VDS (E) for enhanced performance.

  • Real-time Integrated Operational Intelligence

The ability to locate, isolate and provide remediation capabilities is critical given the various applications and services that are being deployed at the edge. In a distributed cloud environment, isolating an issue is further complicated given the nature of the deployments.   The Telco Edge framework uses the same operational model as is deployed in the core network and provides the capability to correlate, analyze and enable day 2 operations.  This includes providing continuous visibility over service provisioning, workload migrations, auto-scaling, elastic networking, and network-sliced multitenancy that spans across VNFs, clusters and sites.

  • Efficient VNF onboarding and placement

Once a VNF is onboarded, the tenant admin deploys the VNF to either the core data center or the edge data center depending on the defined policies and workload requirements. VMware Telco Edge offers dynamic workload placement ensuring the VNF has the right number of resources to function efficiently.

  • Validated Hardware platform

VMware and Dell Technologies have partnered to deliver validated solutions that will help CSPs deploy a distributed cloud architecture and accelerate time to innovation.  Learn more about how VMware and Dell Technologies have engineered and created a scalable and agile platform for CSPs.

Learn More

Edge computing will transform how network infrastructure and operations are deployed and provide greater value to customers.  VMware has published a Telco Edge Reference Architecture that will enable CSPs to deploy an edge-cloud service that can support a variety of edge use cases along with flexible business models.

Learn more about VMware Telco and Edge Cloud solutions at  https://telco.vmware.com

Also, check out our latest press release.

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About Gabriele Di Piazza

Gabriele Di Piazza is vice president of solutions for Telco NFV at VMware

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