What the heck is MEC?

October 13, 2015

cowboyFor those who have been following our posts for the last few years, we have been discussing three emergent trends:

  1. The blurring of the lines between mobile operator and enterprise infrastructure.
  2. The reversal of common IT platform services spend from 80% capex/20% opex to 20% capex/80% opex.
  3. The innovation opportunity created by mobility and the immense untapped capability of mobile operating systems to transform business.

Each trend is discussed in the context of computing needs in the cloud services offerings and, in the near future, edge processing inside the enterprise. The use of edge processing has been slow to emerge due to a lack of standards and the need to accumulate enough interest to catalyze the mobile operator market.

In the last year, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute “ETSI” kicked off an initiative to more fully develop Mobile Edge Computing “MEC” (pronounced MECk) and create a common technical landscape. This will allow the Independent Software Developer “ISV” community to more easily develop packages that are portable to any RAN vendor’s MEC hardware platform. You can learn more here. This is exciting to us as it’s a further proof point that the journey that SpiderCloud has been on to create an awesome customer experience along with critical services has been embraced by mobile operators and their key suppliers.

SpiderCloud spoke at the first MEC Congress, in London on 29-30 Sept 2015, about our early prototypes and experiences with our E-RAN in learning about the market and technology potential in the past five years. While many of the present considerations around MEC are focused on foundations for 5G services, SpiderCloud has been showing enterprise-focused services targeted at increasing revenue directly, or as feeder service that must be performed locally.

A few examples could be helpful to illustrate them:

  • Increasing revenue: Unified Communications tying the native interfaces on a mobile device to the enterprise’s infrastructure have drawn interest from enterprises that wish to integrate and simplify the lives of their business customers who are highly mobile. This reduces the need to build “enterprise OTT”, and simplifies day-to-day usage.
  • Feeder Service: Location Based Services raw events are capable of generating a very large stream and can impact backhaul if it’s sent in raw form to a cloud service. We collaborated withVodafone and HP to build an on-board x86 Services Blade and App for the E-RAN’s Services Node. The process of events stream into UE locations could easily be handed to an external application using the context of UE locations to make better decisions within an equipped facility. The edge service was necessary due to both time critical events, and the sheer volume.

The E-RAN’s ability to conduct many of these early prototypes is directly related to the Services Node aggregating the cloud of radios in the building. All mobility events are “in front” of the x86 Services Blade such that mobility event handling and context switching don’t need to be incorporated into the macro-network. Further, the cost of x86 processing capacity is amortized across all the Radio Nodes in the building. This makes the business case work. If every small cell needed an onboard processor, edge computing could easily be cost prohibitive for most applications.

And, finally, 451 Research’s Ken Rehbehn moderated a webinar on MEC development with Intel’s Caroline Chan, McAfee’s Dan Frey, and SpiderCloud on 8 Oct that is available for replay here. It explored MEC concepts, SpiderCloud’s early edge cloud experiences, a deep dive into operating the McAfee NG-FW as an enterprise service, and a number of audience questions about MEC.

So, we welcome ETSI MEC as yet another proof point that the trail we are blazing with our early mobile operators in both R&D and deployment is going in the correct direction. As MEC applications hosting and use cases develop, we suggest that Product Managers in mobile operators pay attention to the indoor applications market as it’s very unique and potentially far more profitable, relative to MEC in the macro-cellular.

– Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Twitter: @EMobilityInside
Visit our Enterprise IT site @ http://SpiderCloud.com/EInsider


If You Can Scale…Cloud and Managed Services $ Will Come

June 1, 2015

Next week, the Small Cell community once again gathers in London at the annual Small Cells World Summit. This year is special for us! We are, for the first time, showcasing how edge and cloud computing enable new Smart Building and Unified Communications managed services for enterprise customers in collaboration with our new partner Cisco.

Game Changer #1: SpiderCloud + Cisco + enterprise installed base of Wi-Fi

At MWC this year, Cisco and SpiderCloud announced a strategic collaboration. Cisco is now reselling our entire (easy to install) small cell portfolio under the USC 8000 Series brand. The Cisco USC 8000 Series access points are available as standalone units, or as plug-in modules for the Cisco Aironet 3600/3700 Wi-Fi access points using SpiderCloud’s technology. The plug-in radio module is a game changer! Now, the entire installed base of Aironet 3600/3700, inside enterprises across the globe, can be 3G+4G enabled in seconds (the time it takes to plug in the module) – something no other vendor can do.

Game changer #2: Services Collaboration!

For many years we have showed how our Services Node is a catalyst for services. An on-premises controller (Services Node), with a services module, can enable managed cloud and application services beyond basic coverage and capacity.

We have been working with leading companies to show use-case examples:

  • IBM for handset-to-location video, and advertising “push” services for use at venues and shopping malls.
  • HP and Vodafone UK for in-building location (which won us all an award from the Small Cell Forum in 2014).
  • Intel/McAfee for policy enforcement and identify and prevent network security threats at the edge.
  • Saguna for backhaul savings and user experience benefits using a centralized content cache.
  • Druid and Tango for extension of enterprise UC, PBX and mobile call services inside and outside the enterprise network. See Druid’s hospital use case.

Ken Rehbehn (Principal Analyst, 451 Research/Mobile) puts this into context:

“Enterprises recognize the strategic importance of mobile communications as a tool for business agility and efficiency, but simple in-building coverage and capacity fixes may not be sufficient. By augmenting in-building small cell mobile services with flexible mobile edge computing capabilities, enterprises gain a potent toolkit to get the most value out of smart building and Unified Communications applications.

Next week, at the Small Cells World Summit, we will provide further insight to how the Services Node drives services revenue beyond coverage and capacity:

  • How – the mobile device IMSI can be paired to the enterprise active directory for authentication, as well as provide broadcast alerts within the building where the controller is deployed.
  • How – Smart building operations benefit from mobile devices to improve zone heating and air-conditioning usage by monitoring the number of mobile devices and location within the building or campus.
  • How – you can improve building security access by using mobile devices as secondary identification and verification to building badge access.
  • How – the small cell system can enable location and context aware services and execute building-wide alerts to all mobile devices connected to the LAN.
  • How – compliance services can be enabled with policy filtering and identify and prevent mobile LAN network access to non-compliant web sites.
  • How – you can improve network security by blocking malicious packets sent by a mobile device within the LAN, and protect a device from malicious packets sent by a server on the Internet.

Game Changer #3 Services Revenue

The great majority of large businesses would pay over 30% more per-employee for an indoor cellular solution with managed services (iGR survey).

With our eco system partners, and now Cisco, a scalable small cell system deployed over a basic Cat5e LAN (or VLAN), can indeed open up a $100B services market with smart building and Unified Communications (Exact Ventures report).

SpiderCloud’s scalable small cell system provides real-time coordination and distributed SON capability up to 100 dual-band 3G+4G or 4G+4G access points (up to 200 sectors of capacity), enough to effectively offer reliable managed services for buildings and offices up to 1.5 million square feet.

DAS is no-go on Services

Unless you have IT funds like Google and Apple, managed cloud and applications services is a no-go. As we pointed out in the “DAS is D.E.A.D (as we knew it)” blog, and our blog about Ericsson Radio Dot (a year later), enabling services beyond coverage and capacity for DAS-based systems is simply a non-starter.

Our scalable small cell system technology is in use with América Móvil/Telcel, Avea, Verizon, Vodafone UK and Netherlands and Warid Telecom, among others.

See us at Small Cells World Summit next week (June 9-11 in London), or look for us at these upcoming events:

Keep in mind that if you have an IT-friendly and scalable small cell system, you can enable cloud and managed services to increase ARPU.

Ronny Haraldsvik
SVP/CMO
SpiderCloud Wireless
Twitter: @haraldsvik


If You Can Scale Small Cells Inside, then Service IT: Small Cell Services at the Enterprise Edge

October 9, 2014

At the heart of SpiderCloud’s scalable 3G/4G small cell system is the Service Node (SCSN).

This is a “local” control point for the small cell network deployed inside the enterprise over existing Ethernet. It’s also where the enterprise edge meets the mobile operators edge network. SpiderCloud’s small-cell system can provide cellular capacity and coverage to over 1.5 million sq.ft. of space and support over 10,000 voice and data subscribers.

Now why does that matter you may say? Beyond coverage and capacity, after credibility has been established with the IT department that mobile services work reliably inside the building, the Services Node is a strategic point of entry into the enterprise IT environment for mobile operators and business partners to service IT, and a potential great revenue opportunity.

A local control point is essential for Local IP Access (LIPA), also known as local switching and local breakout. LIPA enables content caching, access to content-based and localized services. The Services Node offers a platform to host Virtual Network Functions (from any source) at the edge of the network.   As shown in the figure below, the SCSN supports up to three modules: two Access Modules (AM) and a Services Module (SM).

The access module supports radio access technologies such as UMTS and LTE. The services module is designed to support third-party VNFs and is powered by an Intel Xeon processor. The module offers a Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) environment that enables hosting of multiple concurrent virtual appliances across different operating systems (Guest OS) and programming languages.  SpiderCloud has been working with 3rd party ISVs, to bring to market VNF’s associated with security, content filtering and content delivery. See more in Senza Fili’s recent report (“NFV lands in enterprise small cells”).

With the services module, mobile operators can host VNF’s at the edge. Recently, the new incoming chairman of the Small Cell Forum, Dr. Alan Law, pointed out the importance of small cell services, virtualization and leveraging processing power at the edge of the network in an interview with @Lightreading.

As an example, if you take SpiderCloud Wireless, for instance, and what they have with their services node, they have in essence a platform there potentially capable of running applications at the edge of the network already. In essence, you could start to exploit NFV in certain areas relatively quickly.”

SpiderCloud’s powerful services platform enables migration of content delivery and core network functions at the edge. Also, the Services Node becomes a single point of inspection for all mobile traffic coming into or leaving an enterprise or venue, enabling intelligent data filtering and caching applications. In addition, SpiderCloud’s 3G/4G Services Node offers location and presence detection capabilities that enable context aware VNF’s, or Network as a Service (NaaS) opportunities. Dr. Alan Law goes on to say:

As a mobile device moves, it reports measurements to and from networks. Having to pull all those measurements back takes a lot of bandwidth. So if you wanted a location function, you would push that location function to the edge of the network to process all those functions being reported, so you get the best granularity of the data, but without the burden of having to port those features deeper into the network.”

The Services Node provides a trusted connection to the Radio Nodes and a logical view into all devices on the network to enable secure services to any mobile device on the network. The SCSN enables mobile operator managed cloud and application services, such as MDM, BYOD, location and context-aware, security, and IP-PBX services. The Intel Quad-Core Xeon Processor is the basis for the services module, which enables us to host virtual machines on the Services Node.

With Intel, SpiderCloud has established several services partners to showcase how managed services for enterprise customers are enabled via the existing small cell system.

  • Security threat detection with virtualized Network Security Platform (NSP) to identify and prevent network security threats at the edge of the mobile network, before such threats can reach the core network, by blocking malicious packets sent by a mobile device.
  • Location and detection. Using a virtual machine hosted on the Services Node, IBM can demonstrate handset-to-location video and advertising “push” services for use at venues and shopping malls.
  • Caching at the Edge (stadiums). Saguna can show backhaul savings and user experience benefits of a centralized content cache on the Services Node as part of a scalable small cell system for large campus, venues and shopping malls.
  • Context Aware Applications and Location Based Services. SpiderCloud, HP and Vodafone UK won a Small Cell Forum award in June 2014 for innovative work in this area.
  • PBX Integration: Tango Networks (enterprise). Druid Software PBX for Hospitals.

 

You can read more about the progress of small cell services for the enterprise in one of these recent RCR Wireless articles:

Keep in mind, by fixing in-building mobility with a scalable small cell system capable of also offering managed mobility services, the blurring of the lines between the enterprise and service provider networks will extend the “edge” of the mobile network from the operator’s core into the enterprise premise – thus opening the door for IOT, LBS, NFV and UC services on ONE common platform.

A 2013 research study by Exact Ventures outlined a $100 billion emerging market opportunity for mobile operators in providing mobility services for enterprise customers. The research showed that enterprise customers could save 35% a year by adopting such operator-delivered managed and hosted services. This report and estimate would be wayyyy off. It could indeed be way more.

Meet with SpiderCloud to discuss small cells and services at one of these upcoming events.  Our next presentation is at Small Cells MENA in Dubai October 27-28, followed by Small Cell Deployment & HetNet in Atlanta on November 4-7.

Ronny Haraldsvik
SVP/CMO

Twitter: haraldsvik
spidercloud_inc


“And Then There Were Three”…

March 7, 2014

(Aka, “One got fuddled, and then there were three”). SpiderCloud’s MWC’14 Recap and Commentary

The Genesis album from ’78 is a classic. The title is from an old children’s rhyme (10 little Indians). From our perspective, in the market segments that we play, “and then there were three” summarizes Small Cells at Mobile World Congress.

Before we go on, we have to congratulate GSMA for another banner event in Barcelona. This year there was a record attendance of 85,000 (last year 72,000 attended). The big difference this year was the notable presence of computing companies such as IBM, HP, Oracle, EMC and VMWare. The lines between mobile and enterprise networks are blurring (see blog). The big themes this year focused on wearable technologies, LTE, NFV/SDN, Big Data (analytics) and Small Cells.  GSMA’s Michael O’Hara and his team did a great job, as did Justin Springham and his Mobile World Daily & Live TV teams. See the “Show Wrap Up” and video recaps here.

Small Cells Moving from Hype to Reality

One analyst summarized as follows: “The indoor, enterprise space has notoriously been one where it was hard for operators to add value beyond providing bundles of voice minutes and devices. That is all changing and, as in-building coverage and capacity requirements become urgent, carriers see the chance for new business. That meant there was very heavy emphasis on indoor wireless at MWC, with vendors from all segments – Wi-Fi, small cells, DAS and macrocells – converging on the chief area of growth in usage and revenue.”

The sentiment is very accurate. Where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire. The in-building market is heating up and the DAS and Wi-Fi vendors want a seat at the table which is why we saw many DAS and Wi-Fi “We are Small Cell” related press releases before and during MWC. This is all good.

As for deployments of in-building systems that can scale from hundreds to thousands of employees, the sentiment now is “…and then there were three.”

SpiderCloud Wireless, Huawei and Ericsson are now recognized as the three vendors who have (or will have) systems that can scale to address medium to large enterprise in-building mobile coverage and capacity needs for mobile operator customers.

  1. Huawei has a solution they call Lampsite that deploys like a DAS system, for coverage and capacity inside very large buildings. First deployment includes it’s own HQ in the greater London area.
  2. Ericsson is coming to market with its DAS Dot macro cellular system for single-band 3G or 4G coverage (only) using dedicated CIPRI over Cat 5/6 cabling system in 2015. Ericsson’s CTO on Small Cells, Cloud and more (video).
  3. SpiderCloud has been commercial for over 2 years and is proven with large-scale small cell deployments using existing enterprise Ethernet/VLAN.  In addition, the system includes a platform to enable cloud and applications services. Services beyond basic coverage and capacity were showcased by Vodafone, Intel, NEC, IBM, Seguna and Tango Networks during this year’s MWC. See SpiderCloud RCR interview and Mobile World Live TV panel with Alcatel-Lucent and AT&T.

Beyond Coverage and Capacity, it’s all about services

We enjoyed a lot of interest in our platform’s x86 services module. SpiderCloud’s Services Node (SCSN) provides a trusted connection to the Radio Nodes and a logical view into all devices on the E-RAN, to enable secure services to any mobile device on the network. The SCSN enables mobile operator managed cloud and application services, such as MDM, BYOD, caching, analytics, location and context-aware, security and IP-PBX services. The SCSN services module includes a 64-bit Intel Xeon processor that uses Intel Quick Assist Technology and a 120GB solid-state HDD, offering a virtualized environment for a wide range of applications.  Services examples and demonstrations at MWC included:

  • Intel/McAfee Virtualized Network Security Platform (NSP) to identify and prevent network security threats at the edge of the mobile network, before such threats can reach the core network, by blocking malicious packets sent by a mobile device. NSP protects a device from malicious packets sent by a server on the Internet.
  • Saguna Networks’ demonstrated the benefits of backhaul savings and user experience benefits of a centralized content cache on the SCSN as part of a scalable small cell system for large campus, venues and shopping malls.
  • Ineoquest showed Quality of Experience (QoE) demonstration of mobile video performance by using probes on the small cell network using the SCSN.
  • IBM location and detection virtual machine hosted on the SCSN showed handset-to-location video and advertising “push” services for use at venues and shopping malls. The OTA demonstration included SpiderCloud’s UMTS Radio Node.
  • Tango Networks’ demonstration used the SCSN and Radio Node to show how mobile operators can extend enterprise UC, PBX and mobile call recording services to their entire network, inside and outside the enterprise LAN using any mobile phone via Tango’s Virtualized Accelerator on the SCSN, based on policies configured on the virtual machine on the SCSN.

Small Cells, “there’s an APP for that” (article quote)

Making Deployments easier with EASY-30. Just before MWC, we launched a ground-breaking initiative to help mobile operators and enterprise customers identify, verify and deploy a scalable in-building small cell system in 30 days or less.  The EASY-30 smartphone application enables sales teams to swiftly identify customer requirements for in-building small cell systems and fulfill verification and approval between the operator and its enterprise customer.  The system can then be rapidly deployed over Ethernet and automatically configured via Self Organizing Networks (SON), all within 30 days of the first conversation between operator and enterprise.

Finally, “…one got fuddled”

Cisco is focusing its small cell efforts on the “pub market” (coverage/capacity for 50 subscribers or less) with its small business and residential system portfolio. Time and investments will tell if they’ll put technology efforts into going after the medium and large enterprise market.

Growing Interest in the Enterprise Small Cell Market

“For all the noise from these new product introductions, we would note that privately held SpiderCloud offers a sophisticated indoor coverage system, which it has already been deploying commercially for almost two years. SpiderCloud’s system effectively with its own controller and using SON (self-optimizing network) technology for network optimization, appears to have a solution that has lower up-front costs and is faster to deploy than most DAS system and has been being commercially deployed with partner Vodafone for almost two years.” Needham Co.

SpiderCloud is a key player in the small cell space – even hosting them on one of our tech talks last year. The company continues to grow quickly, deploying their solution in the UK (and elsewhere) as part of Vodafone’s densification/in-building coverage effort.  After discussions with management, we believe the year is setting up nicely for the company, and with multiple operators trialing or deploying their solution and work being done on a multi-operator solution, we believe the future remains bright.” Deutsche Bank, “Signals to Noise”, March 2, 2014

If you’d like to read more about MWC, we recommend:

Ronny Haraldsvik SVP/CMO
Twitter: haraldsvik