The combination of wireless and edge compute has a number of potential applications. Reducing the latency that would undermine the effectiveness of 5G connectivity could eventually permit 5G’s effective use in a number of applications. Industrial applications requiring low latency or involving very high volumes of data or messaging would clearly benefit from short, fast communications links but enabling fast-moving trains or vehicles to communicate with roadside and trackside infrastructure is, for some people, an even more exciting possibility.
But the combination of wireless and edge compute becomes even more powerful when there is an open programming environment to make it easier to devise new applications for different vertical markets. One candidate is Amazon’s Greengrass platform for edge-oriented IoT developments Described as “software that lets you run local compute, messaging, data caching, sync, and ML inference capabilities for connected devices in a secure way”, it’s part of Amazon’s continuing investment in three key areas: IoT, edge computing, and machine learning. And it seems that AWS Greengrass has been moving closer to mobile edge environments.
The most prominent of these among MNOs is the ETSI-defined multi-access edge compute (MEC), although some service providers are more interested in alternatives emerging from the IT industry, like OpenFog (the Open Fog Consortium brings together a number of high-tech industry companies and academic institutions aimed at the standardization and promotion of fog computing in various capacities and fields).
Nevertheless, MEC has received a boost from joint efforts between Amazon AWS Greengrass and two MEC backers, Nokia and Saguna Networks.
In fact last autumn, Amazon AWS announced an alliance with Nokia with three key objectives:
- Nokia will support service providers in their AWS implementation strategy with consulting, design, integration, migration and operations services.
- Nokia and AWS will work together to generate new 5G and edge cloud strategies and guidance for customers, including reference architectures
- The partners will work to commercialize IoT use cases based around combinations of AWS Greengrass, Amazon Machine Learning, Nokia MEC and Nokia’s IMPACT IoT platform.
What happens next is hard to predict, but we’ve clearly come a long way since the 4G days when integrating connectivity, processing and storage resources and placing them close to the user was seen as way of making mobile video delivery more efficient.