ETSI MEC chair says contrary to assumptions, confusion does not reign supreme in edge computing space

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ETSI and the OpenFog Consortium recently announced a collaboration where they’re working to develop fog-enabled mobile edge applications and technologies.

As the telecom industry pursues a path to 5G and more software-based, virtualized network architectures, there’s a temptation to assume that because there are so many competing groups up there—in open source alone there are many—they must all be competing with one another and stepping on one another’s toes. Confusion reigns and at the end of the day, consolidation will whittle all these groups down to one or two.

“The reality is, that’s not true,” said ETSI Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) ISG Chairman Alex Reznik, Ph.D. ETSI is the European Telecommunications Standards Institute that produces global standards for information and communications technologies.

Granted, there are different standardized components that have to be brought together in order to make it all work. “We’re working on a fairly complex ecosystem that’s kind of taking the public cloud components and concepts on one hand, and on the other hand, the private but telco-oriented concepts from NFV, and trying to bring them all together, and by the way, do it in a distributed system. It’s a fairly complex thing.”

A lot of organizations are focused on different components, so cooperation is important. For example, ETSI and the OpenFog Consortium recently announced a collaboration where they’re working to develop fog-enabled mobile edge applications and technologies.

RELATED: OpenFog Consortium welcomes more carrier input as it collaborates with ETSI

More of these types of relationships can be expected. “We are talking actively with various industry groups” across the edge spectrum, said Reznik, an enterprise account architect at Hewlett Packard Enterprise based in New Jersey.

“I’m hoping to have other industry representation, and we do have active conversations with, for example, OpenStack,” which probably won’t lead to an official agreement in the near term because “we realized we’re working on very complementary problems” so there’s no specific actions that require them to sit down together. “If they continue doing what they are doing,” and moving fairly aggressively, and ETSI MEC continues down its path, “we’ll have two of the key components that will work together” in due time.  

Some argue the wireless/telco industry isn’t doing enough to work with other industries. During a keynote at Mobile World Congress Americas in San Francisco last month, Nokia Technology Adviser Hossein Moiin said the industry is failing to take advantage of some real-time capabilities and isn’t reaching out to other industries to help them solve challenges.

Asked whose job it is to bring other industries into the fold, Reznik said: “I think it’s everybody’s job to do that.” Ultimately, it goes back to specific companies and their activities. But, “the good news, at least from an ETSI MEC perspective, is we are doing it,” he said, noting that it takes time to get to a point where announcements can be made. “We are actively doing it,” which means the specific entities participating within ETSI MEC are pushing it, and probably the same players in ETSI MEC are pushing it in 3GPP.