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To the edge and back: moving functions into the data centre


via Flickr © bugeaters (CC BY 2.0)

As network function virtualisation (NFV) gets up a head of steam there will no doubt be some interesting questions posed around where functions could be or should be sited. The starting point for NFV is that functions are best virtualised in a data centre where all the advantages of scale and cost can be harvested. But we’re also seeing a lot of interest in the concept of Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) which, at first thought, looks like it could be NFV antimatter.

MEC is about taking functionality out to the edge of the network just behind the RAN.  The idea  is that certain mobile applications, content types or management functions, might perform better if located one little radio hop from the mobile user.  

The answer, of course, is that there is obviously room for both - some core functions might be pushed out in certain circumstances, and what are now edge functions will likely be increasingly virtualized and brought into the data centre (we’ll be taking a proper look at MEC later this week - stay tuned). We’ll be highlighting SDN/NFV products and service announcements in advance of Mobile World Congress (Barcelona, March 2nd to -5th) where we can. (see also -  Nokia brings its telco cloud to radio access networks).

Radisys will show some virtuous virtuality at MWC this year. Last week it announced a Virtual Base Station (vBS), an unfortunate initialisation  IMO - best to stick with the words.

Radisys has collaborated with  ASOCS, Ltd., an Israeli Virtual Base Station specialist to produce NFV-compatible virtual base stations for Cloud RAN (C-RAN) deployments.

“By deploying radios in the network and moving the functionality to the cloud through the deployment of virtual base stations, mobile operators can take advantage of processing aggregation and dynamic allocation of resources from a central processing unit, thereby improving network efficiency and reducing costs,” says Tom McQuade, general manager, Software & Solutions at Radisys in the press release. So classic NFV advantages are being claimed for C-RAN.

Today Radisys also announced a tie-up with Oracle to offer CSPs a multi-service delivery platform to fold in Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and WebRTC (real time communications) along with other real-time services.

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