Changes name to Multi-access Edge Computing, but its converged focus may create tensions with other edge-focused initiatives. Last week’s Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) Congress in Munich showcased the significant progress the ETSI-driven platform has made since work on its specifications started in March 2015. And the group driving MEC has even changed its name to reflect its widening remit – it will now be called the ‘Multi-Access Edge Computing’ industry specification group (ISG) as its work extends from cellular to WiFi and fixed access links.
The name change was announced at the Munich event and will take effect early next year, when the work on MEC specs moves into its second phase. The ISG was due to finish its work in March 2017 – all ETSI initiatives have a two-year life – but like ETSI’s other critical platform for operators, NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) it has received an extension to pursue a follow-up set of specs.
This second stage will focus on edge computing in converged networks rather than mobile-only environments.
“We asked for an extension and modified our terms of reference with the objectives of the next phase and this was all agreed last week,” ISG chair Nurit Sprecher from Nokia told the Congress. “We’re going to extend beyond 3GPP access technologies to cover WiFi and fixed.” According to LightReading (http://www.lightreading.com/mobile/mec-(mobile-edge-computing)/etsi-gets-edgy-about-mobile) Sprecher also said that ETSI has been trying to coordinate activities with some of the other groups which are addressing edge computing, but is keen to remain the “center of gravity”.
This hints at the kind of fragmentation that also faces NFV, which did a remarkable job of unifying the industry’s virtualization efforts in its first phase, but is now fighting to remain the driver of second-stage efforts such as management and orchestration (MANO), where alternative platforms have emerged focused on OpenStack.
In edge computing, there are also several industry and open source efforts, such as the Open Fog Alliance, which supports Cisco’s concepts of fog and mist computing. The further ETSI MEC extends beyond cellular, the more it is likely to overlap with these other activities.
Sprecher revealed that ETSI has signed an agreement with Open Edge Computing, and is working on one with the Open Fog Alliance. There will also be potential confusion in the mobile-only area because the 3GPP will be working on some aspects of edge computing as part of its 5G efforts. “Some activities, such as MEC integration with 5G architecture, will need to go beyond ETSI,” said Sprecher. “It is natural that the 3GPP will work on that and we need to work with them rather than reinventing.”