& cplSiteName &

Will ETSI Lose Its Edge as Fog Rolls In?

Iain Morris
9/28/2016
100%
0%

As a general concept, edge computing is all about deploying IT resources much closer to end users, at the network's periphery, and is set to play a key role in next-generation, increasingly virtualized networks.

It should also provide a significant boost, and create many new business and development opportunities, for the technology community: The introduction of edge computing on a broad, international scale will require astronomical capital investments and the development of a vast array of new applications in the coming years.

That much seems clear. How the communications networking sector deploys, pays for, manages and builds a business case around edge computing assets, without creating a next-generation mess, is far less so.

As a result, multiple industry groups, with related goals and varying degrees of overlap, are working on frameworks, concepts, strategies and, in some cases, technical specifications related to distributed IT assets. Their aim is to encourage a range of companies, enterprises and organizations -- including mobile and fixed network operators, municipalities, large enterprises and web-scale giants -- to develop edge computing deployment strategies that will benefit the entire ecosystem, from individual end users to the very largest asset-based players.

So which industry bodies should network operators, their technology suppliers and the rest of the edge computing hopefuls turn to as they formulate their strategies?

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has been one of the most active players in this area over the last two years. Its Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) Industry Specifications Group (ISG) now hopes to finalize a first set of specifications by March 2017. During the Mobile Edge Computing Congress earlier this month in Munich, Nurit Sprecher, the group's chair and principal architect, described ETSI as "the center of gravity" when it comes to edge computing developments.

On the Edge But In Control?
Nurit Sprecher, chair of ETSI's MEC ISG, is confident the specifications group can work productively with OpenFog and the Open Edge Computing group and, well, be at the center of the edge.
Nurit Sprecher, chair of ETSI's MEC ISG, is confident the specifications group can work productively with OpenFog and the Open Edge Computing group and, well, be at the center of the edge.

A bold claim, perhaps.

As the figurehead for the ETSI group, it's no surprise that Sprecher feels the need to champion its importance. But that group, formed in late 2014, has addressed just one part of the edge computing sector, related to the radio access network and licensed spectrum environments.

There is much more to edge computing, however, than deploying IT and cloud assets at basestations and aggregation points in mobile access networks. And with so much uncertainty in the market, it's not surprising that other industry associations, with a different take on the challenge, have been popping up like beer tents at Oktoberfest: The OpenFog Consortium and the Open Edge Computing group are two emerging organizations whose visions of edge computing, as far as some are concerned, have greater relevance than the work the ETSI MEC group has done so far.

There's also the issue of industry support: While the ETSI MEC group has been increasing its membership, many potential participants are missing. For instance, Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Europe's biggest vendor of network equipment, is not involved (it has declined to say why); Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), a major telco with edge computing ambitions, is another absentee. Asked why, the German operator told Light Reading it thought ETSI's mobile-only focus was too narrow.

Encouragingly, the ETSI group is trying to adapt to the demands of the market and operators such as Deutsche Telekom. Having just secured a two-year extension for its project, the MEC group has taken industry feedback on board and is now including fixed and unlicensed wireless technologies, such as WiFi, in its specifications development work. To reflect that enlarged role, it will next year change its name to "Multi-Access Edge Computing." (See ETSI Drops 'Mobile' From MEC.)

It is also forming alliances with the OpenFog Consortium and Open Edge Computing. That outreach needed to happen: Both of those groups have a more expansive vision of distributed computing and have already attracted support from some big hitters in the IT world. Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Dell Technologies (Nasdaq: DELL) are members of OpenFog, for instance, but not of the ETSI MEC group. Had the latter remained aloof, it would have risked being sidelined.

That threat has not entirely disappeared, though. Even with its broader remit, the ETSI group is still focused on edge computing. As its name implies, OpenFog is instead concerned with fog computing, which encompasses the full range of distributed IT capabilities, from centralized data centers right through to the smallest connected assets housed at machine-to-machine communications modules. That bigger picture more accurately portrays the strategies of many industry players.

Next page: The edge gets foggier

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading founder Steve Saunders grills Cisco's Roland Acra on how he's bringing automation to life inside the data center.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
April 4, 2018, The Westin Dallas Downtown, Dallas
May 14-17, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
SmartNICs aren't just about achieving scale. They also have a major impact in reducing CAPEX and OPEX requirements.
Hot Topics
Here's Pai in Your Eye
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 12/11/2017
The Anatomy of Automation: Q&A With Cisco's Roland Acra
Steve Saunders, Founder, Light Reading, 12/7/2017
Netflix Evaluating AI for Personalized Trailers
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 12/8/2017
Ericsson & Samsung to Supply Verizon With Fixed 5G Gear
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 12/11/2017
Animals with Phones
We're Gonna Need More Treats Click Here
You spent how much on this thing?!
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed