Heather Broughton

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Moving cloud, compute and processing power to the edge of the network will support the ultra-low latency requirements of 5G applications, such as connected cars, which run at the network edge. Service providers will use their new network architectures, which are virtualized via network functions virtualization (NFV), to deploy MEC coupled with cloud radio access network (C-RAN) systems to support these types of traffic.

Though the traffic journey is truncated by having intelligence at the network edge, it still needs to be managed, secured and supported by the service provider. As with traffic that travels across the entire network to a centralized server resource, service providers need visibility into the mobile edge computing traffic in order to enable full service assurance.

The only way to achieve this is to utilize a smart data solution which will maintain visibility throughout every aspect of the network.  From the customer premise or IoT device over the short distance network to the MEC resource, service providers need to access and analyze this data in real time in order to gain actionable insights into how applications on the network behave. This can be used to identify security breaches, the need for greater capacity to be made available or for predictive analytics to be performed so they can smooth out the peaks and valleys in network demand from a given application or device.

With the network edge now a key foundation for data analytics, it is playing an ever more important part in the performance of service provider networks. What’s needed to ensure this IT infrastructure – in the form of mobile edge computing – delivers on its promises and is carrier-grade in the same way as the network that enables it – is deep visibility into the performance characteristics of the edge of the network. Virtual probes enabled by network virtualization provide the means for service providers to achieve this visibility. They can be spun up as required and configured to provide useful insights into service performance – even at the edge.

Children are taught to be cautious of going too close to the edge of swimming pools or cliffs, but when it comes to the network, the edge presents a compelling, yet under-exploited place to gain true operational efficiency and maximized network utilization.

To learn more, please visit our NFV Smarter page.

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