What is Multi Access Edge Computing (MEC)?

What is Multi Access Edge Computing (MEC)?


The edge computing industry is growing. Grandview Research estimates the edge computing market will grow at about 33% CAGR between 2022 and 2030. 

There is currently a lot of talk about 5G and how this fits into the world of IoT and edge computing. Many don’t quite grasp what 5G main benefits lie outside the context of their mobile phone. The space is still evolving and is updated regularly by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), which maintains the 5G standard. There’s an emerging area that leverages the benefits of 5G within the business context (rather than the consumer mobile device market). This area can either segment part of the 5G network or use a private 5G network    

The question still remains about what the impact of technologies like 5G will be. Many applications don’t inherently require the latency benefits that 5G provides but may be good candidates nonetheless for other reasons. We highlight a few of those below. 

5G consideration criteria

5G consideration criteria

High bandwidth scenarios: Many computer vision scenarios are good candidates for 5G implementations due to the large amount of data processed. Edge computing with local hardware acceleration already solves part of this challenge, but 5G can further improve the possibilities of where the compute occurs. It also offers more flexible architecture and cost models. 

Network limitations: Protecting critical network infrastructure is a top priority for all enterprises across industry verticals. 5G offers the opportunity to stand up a separate, isolated network of computing devices which will not impact the performance of your core network infrastructure. 

Physical installation complexity: Running cables and networking sensors, cameras, and all other requisite hardware can easily become quite complex. One can reduce the number of cables and simplify their network topology by using 5G capable devices over their radio access network (RAN). This acts as an alternative to Wi-Fi without sacrificing performance and has added security benefits provided by SIM card authority of trust. 

For example, with private 5G, there are new ways of managing how you host your applications at the edge. One of these technologies is Multi Access Edge Computing or MEC for short. 

MEC use cases 

  • High throughput IoT use cases (e.g., Factory automation) 
  • Live video analytics 
  • High security scenarios 
  • Robotics 

Why private MEC? 

  • Many customers will want full control over their MEC environment, so they will opt for private MEC offerings for security purposes. 
  • Adding IoT devices and other hardware to the corporate network can require several layers of approval, and a separate 5G network can enable these workloads with less friction and therefore an accelerated time to deployment. 
  • Private MEC will make the most sense for workloads that require real-time insights for process optimization or decision-making. 
  • It will also require deploying a radio access network (RAN) on-premises as well as edge computing hardware.  
  • This allows 5G devices to connect to the edge appliance to enable low latency and high bandwidth applications within the customer’s physical environment at the edge. This is particularly useful for real-time use cases like manufacturing process optimization or live video analytics at the edge. 

Microsoft is enabling this with their Azure private MEC offering. It provides the capability to manage all services from the cloud across hardware to computing, networking, and application vectors. Together, these services allow for development, deployment, and management of 5G enabled workloads. 

Azure services for private MEC 

Service Description
Azure Private 5G Core Provides capability to deploy and manage private 5G networks via 5G core which supports both 4G LTE and 5G RAN 
Azure Network Function Manager  Allows the deployment of network functions to the edge using Azure cloud-native methodologies. This is used to deploy the packet core and SD-WAN to your Azure Stack Edge devices 
Fusion Core  Cloud native implementation of the 3GPP standards for 5G Next Generation Core for traffic aggregation across devices over multiple wireless technologies 
Affirmed Private Network Service  Provides a managed network service for service providers and mobile network operators to offer private LTE and 5G solutions to their customers 
Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes  Enables the lifecycle management of your physical devices via Azure Arc as well as deploy and manage edge workloads using GitOps methodologies 
Azure Stack Edge  A family of Microsoft first party edge compute hardware products for hosting application workloads and the private 5G packet core 

Your 5G Systems Integrator 

We are well poised to extend these offerings via our partnership with Microsoft. We have extensive expertise in building edge-hosted solutions for our clients. For more information on some of our past experiences, please see the use cases linked below. 

Thinking about adopting MEC or simply want to get more information? Schedule time with one of our experts who can help you evaluate if 5G could be a good fit for your organization by emailing contactus@nealanalytics.com or filling out this form. 


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