At MWC 2018, multi-access edge computing (MEC) entered the mainstream. Companies moved beyond talk to finally show what edge computing can do. GSMA dedicated a full session to delivery of entertainment from the edge moderated by our friend Nitesh Patel at Strategy Analytics. SDx Central heralded the arrival of MEC chatter at the event. Analyst and consulting firm STL Partners hosted an Edge Computing & Edge Cloud interactive breakfast roundtable.
Before this year’s Mobile World Congress, MEC was promoted on the show floor, but hadn’t yet emerged as a major show theme. There had been technical proofs of concepts, like our work with Intel and others on IoT; promising results from early MEC use cases like throughput guidance. GSMA did invite Vasona to talk “edge” topics on one of its MWC 2017 mainstages but this was part of a more general session that explored 5G building blocks. In 2017, edge computing was gaining steam, but it was largely a handful of companies making noise about the promise of 5G-like experiences available on networks today.
Capitalizing On MEC’s Breakout Year
This year at the Vasona booth, we helped raise MEC to new heights by demonstrating the power of edge computing to power a PC gaming experience delivered to a mobile device over a congested LTE network. We demonstrated this capability with the popular (and graphics-intensive) game Doom. CNET’s Roger Cheng highlighted it in a story about the edge and 5G’s promise for consumers.
In this demo:
- Vasona monitors traffic in the cell and recognizes what sessions are gaming, video, streaming, file downloads, etc., and manages the traffic so each application in contention gets what it needs for the consumer to have a good experience.
- Our virtual MEC solution recognizes the latency-sensitive gaming traffic, breaks it out of the normal pipe and directs it to a private edge cloud run by our demo partner LiquidSky for graphics processing.
- The game is hosted entirely in the cloud and no processing is done on the user’s phone. The gamer is merely sending control signals via the cellular network and watching a video stream of their game being delivered from the cloud. Because everything is being processed at the edge of the network, close to the gamer, the latency is low enough for a smooth experience
This experience is made possible by our Edge Breakout app, announced before MWC. (And yes, we love the coincidence of “edge” breaking out at MWC the same year we announce a product by the same name!) Edge Breakout is an important technical development because it addresses an untapped opportunity to deliver low latency apps like cloud-based gaming, enterprise applications and IoT via LTE mobile networks.
Of course, it wasn’t just Vasona talking about the edge. Forbes touted AT&T’s plans to “put smart city IoT edge computing on direct dial.” MEC standards body ETSI talked next steps and the latest benefits coming to bear. VMware unveiled edge computing solutions for enterprise IoT efforts. Intel, Cisco, HP, Ericsson, Nokia and Huawei were all reported to have various increasing stakes in this pivotal market.
Yes, the edge has arrived. With 5G still years out and operators now figuring out how to get more out of 4G networks, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.