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Increasing service agility with 5G-Ready Telco Edge

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Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Intel have collaborated on a proof of concept (POC) that anticipates 5G and combines proven technology from the two powerhouses. The HPE and Intel 5G-Ready Telco Edge POC is about demonstrating a radio-aware application for video optimization in a fully virtualized network.

HPE has more than 20 years’ experience as a trusted telco infrastructure provider, and Intel’s processors are providing the foundation for HPE’s broad portfolio of server solutions.

The coming 5G wireless networking standard promises significant improvements in bandwidth, latency, and data rates. With the new standard, communications service providers (CSPs) will be able to address a stunning range of new vertical markets such as video delivery optimization, fixed wireless communications, autonomous driving, connected homes, smart cities, virtual and augmented reality, drones, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

These services will have a dramatic impact, not only on the way people live their lives, but also on how organizations conduct business. Although most 5G services and business models are only in the testing and trial phases, there are many initiatives underway in preparation for the 5G future. Most importantly, we want to maximize service agility in 5G networks so that they can support requirements we’ve not even thought of yet.

The HPE and Intel 5G-Ready Telco Edge POC is an example of how a CSP can deliver services at the edge of the network. As the connected world moves toward 5G, the wireless industry is standardizing on network virtualization technologies such as SDN and NFV, which are already dynamically reconfiguring networks at the edge and in the core.

This networking evolution gives CSPs the service agility they need to quickly create and deploy new revenue-generating services today. Some services will be spontaneous and temporary, such as a service for a sports event in a stadium, that are put up and taken down on the same day. Such agility and dynamism requires a move away from proprietary appliances to network functions running on general purpose servers.

Slicing the network

The POC shows an example of service agility through this “network slicing” is a video application running at the network edge and in the data center. This solution involves the HPE Edgeline EL4000 running video delivery applications and communicating with a centralized EPC built with HPE ProLiant DL380 servers – all powered by Intel architecture.

Video content can now be delivered via a local cloud at the network edge, close to the subscriber. This greatly reduces latency compared with a video appliance in the cloud. The data plane is distributed right to the network edge, and content is delivered by a video application deployed on the edge cloud.

This low-latency network slice supports the service level agreement (SLA) between the subscriber and the operator. For subscribers without an SLA, the same network provides a best-effort network slice. The remote radio head communicates with a Virtual GnodeB, running on the HPE Edgeline 4000 Converged Edge System.

The multi-edge computing platform runs video delivery applications and communicates with a centralized enhanced packet core (EPC), built with HPE Proliant DL380 Servers. HPE servers are built with scalable, high performance Intel Xeon processors, they can satisfy a range of cost/performance needs using the same software throughout the network.

Intel, HPE and our partners like TIM are collaborating to make MEC applications a reality today ahead of 5G deployments.

TIM – the operator’s perspective

The idea of the POC was to give telcos a look at how to prepare their networks to deliver 5G services and support new business models. More specifically, to let them learn about how to maximize service agility and future proof 5G infrastructure by providing an example of what the future will look like with 5G.

In a recent webinar, Salvatore Scarpina, Project Manager, TIM, gave an operator’s perspective on the POC. He explained that POCs could play an important role in proving the benefits of Mobile-Access Edge Computing  (MEC is a foundational network architecture concept, designed to help 5G networks live up to their dynamic potential). This is both from a technical point of view, by assessing performance improvements, and from business point of view, by scouting and evaluating the new scenarios enabled by MEC technologies.

TIM is particularly interested in MEC because it could play an important role as an enabler for greater flexibility, to provide the shortest time to market and generate new value thanks to localized computing capabilities.

This environment is characterized by ultralow latency and high bandwidth as well as real-time access to radio network information that can be leveraged by applications and QoE platforms.

Salvatore says MEC can be considered as a technology component for the evolution towards 5G, providing IT service environment and cloud-computing capabilities within the Radio Access Network (RAN), close to mobile subscribers. Further, operators could open their RAN edge to authorized third-parties, allowing them to flexibly and rapidly deploy innovative applications and services towards mobile subscribers, enterprises and vertical segments.

Salvatore outlined the following possible use cases for MEC:

  • consumer-oriented services include gaming, remote desktop applications, augmented and assisted reality, cognitive assistance, etc.;
  • operator and third party services cover innovative services taking advantage of computing and storage at the edge, as active device location tracking, big data, security, safety, enterprise services, etc.; and
  • network performance: services improving performance of the network, as content/DNS caching, performance optimization, video optimization, etc.

He added that this scenario of video optimization has been chosen for:

  • the consolidated importance of video traffic in the present (4G) and in the future (5G); and
  • the possibility of scoping out the practical constraints of a realistic application scenario.
History and the future

Key components of the HPE and Intel 5G-Ready Telco Edge POC were the MEC and the Virtual RAN, which used real-time radio information to modify video in real time, delivered by network slicing and service agility – see the schematic below.

Compute capabilities are changing how networks are built, blurring the boundaries between network and service infrastructure. That means moving from a hierarchical network, where functions are placed along the traffic path to a flattened network where functions are optimally placed and traffic is steered towards the most optimally placed. Hence the network edge will be the most dynamic part of the infrastructure because it will be:

  • access agnostic
  • deal with the exponential rise of connected devices and applications
  • the ideal place to introduce applications that influence customer experience
  • a perfect sandbox for operators to test new innovative applications.

Or to put it another way, the edge cloud becomes the keystone of the network.

Increasing overall agility for 5G will involve the major strands:

  • Network Agility through Infrastructure Transformation – creating a flexible and open infrastructure will foster competition and innovation from a broader vendor ecosystem and enable the development and deployment of new revenue generating services.
  • Service Agility through OSS Transformation – operations support systems (OSS) need to evolve to enable rapid and dynamic service creation, provisioning, activation, and retirement of services. A faster time to market for new services enables the CSP to react faster to market and competitive pressures along with faster time to revenue.
  • Customer Agility through BSS Transformation – business support systems (BSS) will need to support an end-to-end, customer-centric approach that ensures subscribers get what they want, when they want it, and even before they realize they want it through predictive analytics.
In conclusion – key takeaways

It is possible, right now, to deploy an open infrastructure for 5G workloads as shown in the demo described above, running a complete edge compute cloud all on a 1U HPE Edgeline 4000 system powered by Intel Xeon E3 & Xeon-D processors.

Increasing CSPs’ overall agility starts with increasing network agility through creating a flexible and open infrastructure. Crucially, it also includes transforming OSS and BSS systems to increase the agility of services and customers respectively.

To be successful with 5G, one of the first requirement is reliability from end-to-end. HPE will continue to deliver high performance server solutions with high availability that are NEBS and ETSI compliant and have extended product lifecycles and more. Future proof your 5G network with HPE servers powered by Intel processors.

Visit https://youtu.be/_IK0BOKkU1A to see the HPE and Intel 5G Telco Edge demo in action.





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