SDN and edge computing: key enablers toward the 5G evolution

SDN and edge computing: key enablers toward the 5G evolution

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“2020 and Beyond” is announced by the International Telecommunication Union to be the era of the next mobile network generation. After Long-Term Evolution (LTE)/fourth generation, fifth generation (5G) is promising to be a major evolution in the communication domain, not simply due to the acceleration of the data rate, but rather due to the new applications. The challenging objectives such as minimum user-plane latency, uninterruptable connectivity, high quality of service, high data rate communications, and network capacity, while dealing with ubiquitous and heterogeneous network access, call for a major overhaul of the whole mobile network architecture. The limitations of today's mobile systems, derived from their dependency on hardware-based designs, led to inflexible and limited architectures. It is essential to have dynamic and flexible management systems at several levels, starting from the radio access network (RAN), passing by the Evolved Packet Core (EPC), up to the application interfaces. These future demands and the requirement for a self-adaptive system can be realized by adopting the software-defined-networking (SDN) paradigm, which leads to the integration of SDN in the network components of the upcoming 5G technology. Benefiting from software flexibility on one hand and control and management centralization on the other hand, SDN has its positive impact in the communication world from several aspects. SDN will provide 5G with a smooth transition and unified management among various wireless standards and among different RANs and wired core networks. Furthermore, SDN can optimally orchestrate the interference between cells, handovers, roaming process, routing, and signaling between access and core networks, management of the gateways, and even the management of user data. Furthermore, the new bandwidth and latency requirements, and the ability to support the innovative 5G applications, cannot be satisfied by centralizing the data in the cloud. Pushing the data to the user's proximity will be vital for some time-critical applications, which is a requirement supported by edge computing. Therefore, the geo-distribution of data requires an optimal networking design for these edges. On top of this distributed data layer, the network function virtualization coupled with SDN promises easier management of such an infrastructure. In this chapter, we investigate how SDN can be integrated into the 5G network architecture at different levels (RAN, EPC, security, etc.) and highlight the solutions, challenges, and benefits resulting from such integration. Also, we present the mobile edge computing concept, its integration with SDN, and its implications on 5G. We review the designs and architectures that have been proposed in this area and others that are under development, including the innovative applications and use cases that will be enabled by the SDN-5G combination. Our work will be concluded by proposing an architecture for SDN-5G for telecom operators.

Chapter Contents:

  • Abstract
  • 16.1 Introduction (mobile network evolution toward 5G)
  • 16.2 5G enabling technologies
  • 16.2.1 Software-defined networking and network function virtualization
  • 16.2.2 Cloud and edge computing
  • 16.3 5G characteristics, challenges, and solutions
  • 16.3.1 5G requirements/challenges
  • 16.3.2 Proposed solutions
  • 16.4 Literature review
  • 16.4.1 SDN and NFV based 5G architectures
  • Software-defined radio access network
  • Software-defined core network
  • Software-defined 5G architectures
  • 16.4.2 Edge/cloud-based 5G architecture
  • Edge/cloud-based access network
  • Edge/cloud-based 5G architecture
  • 16.5 Proposed architecture
  • 16.6 Discussion
  • 16.7 Conclusion
  • Acknowledgment
  • References

Inspec keywords: quality of service; cellular radio; mobile computing; software defined networking; 5G mobile communication; radio access networks

Other keywords: wired core network; roaming process; wireless standard; mobile edge computing; software-defined-networking; 5G evolution; evolved packet core; heterogeneous network access; radio access network; handover; next mobile network generation; fifth generation communication; signaling; EPC; International Telecommunication Union; telecom operator; minimum user-plane latency; gateway; uninterruptable connectivity; self-adaptive system; quality of service; Long-Term Evolution; virtualization; distributed data layer; data rate communication; LTE-fourth generation communication; routing; SDN; interference; user data management

Subjects: Ubiquitous and pervasive computing; Computer networks and techniques; Radio access systems; Mobile radio systems

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