What Is 5G Edge Computing?
Edge Computing is the technique of moving the hosting of computing services as close as possible to its users with the goal of lowering network traffic and increasing speed. 5G and edge computing are complementary; 5G reduces latency between the endpoint and the radio tower, and edge computing reduces latency from the data centers.
How Does Edge Computing Work with 5G?
To understand how edge computing and 5G complement each other, let’s explore how each technology works independently. Edge computing reduces latency by making data locally available on a computer versus being stored on a cloud server off premises. Edge computers continuously sync data between remote data centers and their local storage array. This allows users and applications to access information across multiple networks more effectively.
5G is the latest cellular standard built from the core principles of 4G. 5G offers significant improvements in terms of data rate, coverage, latency, and availability. A few key features 5G offers are as follows:
- Up to Gbps data rate
- Low latency (under 20 ms round-trip)
- Wired like reliability and availability
This leap in performance will enable new technology, such as augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, smart cities, and ubiquitous Internet of Things. By combining the performance of edge computing with the flexibility and coverage of 5G, enterprises can dramatically increase the reliability and accuracy of their data. The future of 5G and edge computing will enable businesses to orchestrate automation across robots, machines, and separate systems.
5G Edge Computing Architecture
Cloud & Data Center
Before the data makes it to the edge, it is typically stored in a private or public cloud. This data can be in the form of an application, containerized workload, or simply a repository of company resources. Software on the cloud helps orchestrate and synchronize data to different edge devices across the enterprise.
The edge node is where edge computing is performed. This is typically an edge server or gateway. Routers, switches, and base stations can also sometimes be referred to as edge nodes. Edge nodes process the data from the cloud and serve that data to edge devices.
Edge devices describe the hardware we interact with. Augmented reality headsets, smartphones, ATMs, IoT sensors, video cameras, and robotic assembly arms could all be edge devices in an edge-computing architecture. In a 5G edge architecture, communication between the edge devices and nodes would be significantly faster than other forms of wireless communication.
Edge clusters provide additional scalability, higher availability, and more compute power than edge nodes alone. Edge clusters are typically rack-mounted servers with significant memory, local storage, and processing power to host business applications and shared resources.
Edge gateways act similarly to edge clusters but provide additional protocol and networking functions. Edge gateways often perform network address translation, packet filtering, firewall protection, and other services similar to an enterprise router.
5G Edge Computing Use Cases
With data closer to the end user, and 5G transporting that data faster than ever, businesses have already started leveraging the 5G edge model to design new and unique solutions to old edge computing problems.
AI-Powered Video Surveillance
Live high-definition video is a powerful tool for site security and automation that can be made even more valuable with the help of artificial intelligence. In a 5G edge setting, artificial intelligence can study live video feeds in real time to produce alerts, produce insights, and record events.
For instance, large retail stores can use AI to automatically detect shoplifting and provide customers with checkout-free locations. Manufacturers also use similar technology to direct their autonomous vehicles with the latest insights derived from machine learning. 5G edge computing can make this technology possible by processing the workload locally and leveraging 5G networks as a medium for communication.
Cities across the world are already using 5G and edge computing to provide resources to their residents and increase the operational efficiency of city services. IoT sensors help monitor city infrastructures such as water, sewage, waste management, and electricity. The additional coverage and capacity upgrades to 5G allow cities to monitor and automate these systems in ways that were previously not possible.
To cut down on networking costs, cities can use edge computing to access this data in real time without congesting the network or paying exorbitant data fees every time a sensor broadcasts an update. With this data, local governments can gain new insights into their resource consumption and make better decisions during emergencies.
Manufacturing requires high availability, minimal downtime, and continuous demand for advancement in order to stay profitable and competitive. 5G edge computing enables manufacturers to gain insights quickly, automate and orchestrate policies, and leverage new troubleshooting technology to prevent outages.
IoT sensors enable manufacturers to monitor digital and analog processes to gain continuous insights and perform preventive maintenance. When paired with automation, IoT sensors can feed data into edge computers that track mechanical issues and automatically create prioritized work orders for maintenance staff.
With 5G, the future of troubleshooting may look a lot different through the lens of augmented reality. AR lenses allow technicians to easily visualize and locate issues in complex settings by leveraging real-time data and alerts in their heads-up display. Staff can now read repair notes, identity issues, and receive root cause analysis without using a tablet or laptop.
Challenges in Traditional Edge Computing
While 5G edge computing offers significant benefits, the model isn’t without flaws. Here are a few of the top challenges when implementing edge computing on a 5G network.
- Redundancy - Edge devices act as a single point of failure. Assets relying on a single edge device can fail if the node goes down. Due to their significant cost, redundant edge computers are expensive.
- Security - Synchronizing security policies across multiple edge computers is complex, and often leaves multiple attack vectors open for cybercriminals. The distributed architecture also means any vulnerabilities at one site will likely impact all sites.
- Cost - Edge computing costs can balloon in size as the demand for higher computing power and data processing increases. Each edge device will need additional hardware upgrades to serve each location.
- Complexity - While edge computing provides reliable low-latency connections, it often does so at the cost of complexity. This can make administration challenging and open up the possibility for misconfigurations and security flaws. Additionally, as complexity increases, it impacts the business’s ability to scale and react quickly to changes in demand.
The Future Is Edgeless
To overcome the challenges in 5G edge computing, Celona has developed a new type of edgeless architecture that leverages private 5G, software-defined networking, and machine learning to unify resources without needing an edge server.
An edgeless architecture uses the speed, reliability, and low-latency characteristics of 5G to replace the need for edge servers. This model also centralizes policy management and allows enterprises to design service level agreements and rule sets for all assets in a single location.
These SLAs are configured through MicroSlicing, allowing administrators to create granular application-specific rules that dictate exact throughput and latency levels. Unlike traditional quality of service processes, MicroSlices can apply to different networks, devices, contextual groups, and locations.
Environments such as hospitals and industrial plants that demand high availability can use an edgeless architecture to scale more efficiently, save on infrastructure costs, and guarantee cellular resources to specific applications and services.
The Celona Solution
Celona partners with enterprise organizations to provide 5G services to their critical infrastructure connectivity as a seamless turnkey 5G LAN solution. Plug-and-play devices can be quickly deployed throughout the facility, while proactive monitoring ensures network SLAs, such as throughput and latency requirements, are consistently being met.
Celona uses edgeless enterprise architecture and cloud-based artificial intelligence to make implementing private mobile networks an out-of-box experience. Onboarding can be done alongside existing wireless and IT infrastructure, without interrupting business operations.
If you’re building your network for the future, Celona can help. Check out our network planner to see what your network would look like on the Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum, or test-drive the Celona solution via product demonstrations and a free trial.