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Breaking Down the Converged Edge Platform 1.5 Reference Architecture

Today we are announcing the release of the Converged Edge Platform 1.5 Reference Architecture. This multi-purpose platform for edge solutions now includes support for many new features, including VMware's ETSI-compliant Telco Cloud Infrastructure.

October 22, 2020 5 minute read

Mobile network operators have long used large cloud data centers that aggregate central and regional core sites to deploy network services. In a 5G world, they’ll have to leverage edge network sites to deliver the low latency required to support next-gen applications such as self-driving cars, augmented reality and more.  

Therefore, converged edge solutions will play a key role in a service provider’s overall 5G strategy by delivering services and connectivity in support of specific industry verticals with a common infrastructure that makes the management of the platform and the services delivered by it less complex. 

We recently released our Converged Edge Platform 1.5 Reference Architecture — a multi-purpose platform for edge solutions that now includes support for many new features, including VMware's ETSI-compliant Telco Cloud Infrastructure. 

VMware Telco Cloud Infrastructure (TCI) is the latest release of Network Function Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVI) that replaces VMware vCloud NFV 3.x. 

Instead of maintaining different versions for Virtualized Infrastructure Manager (VIM) components of VMware Cloud Director and VMware Integrated OpenStack, TCI now simplifies the software stack into one solution, where you choose either OpenStack or Cloud Director Edition. 

In addition to the name change and version consolidation, the following software components were updated in VMware Telco Cloud Infrastructure 1.0:

  • VMware ESXi 6.7 U3b
  • VMware vCenter Server 6.7 U3j
  • VMware vSphere Replication 8.3.0.2
  • VMware vRealize Orchestrator 8.2
  • VMware NSX-T Data Center Advanced Edition 3.0.2
  • VMware vRealize Operations Manager 8.1.1
  • VMware vRealize Log Insight 8.1.1
  • VMware vSAN 6.7 U3
  • VMware Cloud Director 10.1.2 (Cloud Director Edition)
  • VMware Integrated OpenStack 7.0 (OpenStack Edition)
  • VMware Site Recovery Manager 8.3.0.2
  • VMware vRealize Network Insight 5.3

The Converged Edge Platform (CEP) 1.5 is based on VMware Telco Cloud Infrastructure 1.0 OpenStack Edition. When deploying edge services with the Converged Edge Platform, both VNFs and cloud native applications running on the edge can be deployed on a single shared infrastructure to reduce overhead for hardware components and administration. 

This means Private 4G/5G virtualized components from the radio network and mobile core can operate on the same hyper-converged infrastructure as cloud native apps delivering a variety of use cases from a Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) runtime.  

Some use cases include:

  • Content acceleration for Microsoft Office 365 and 4K media
  • Software updates for corporate users.
  • Mobile app use cases such as fever detection, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality, autonomous vehicles (V2X), robotics, Internet of Things (IoT) devices are additional examples.

Converged Edge Platform architecture

The architecture behind the solution can be separated into several abstraction layers. Here's an excerpt from the CEP 1.5 reference architecture that explains the layers in detail. 

Facility and infrastructure layer

Represents compute hardware, storage and physical networking as the underlying pool of shared resources. In addition, there are numerous other physical network devices such as switches, routers, EMS and so on, making the execution ecosystem a hybrid virtual and physical topology.

Virtualization layer

The virtualization abstraction layer of the Telco Cloud Infrastructure OpenStack Edition platform delivers the virtualization run-time environment with network functions and resource isolation for VM-based workloads. In NFVI, virtualized compute, storage and networking are delivered as an integrated solution through vSphere, vSAN, VIO and NSX-T Data Center. 

Isolated resources and networks can be assigned to a tenant slice, which is a runtime isolated partition delivering services. Tenant slices can be dedicated to a tenant or shared across tenants. 

The NFVI is optimized and adjusted for telco-class workloads to enable the delivery of quality and resilient services. Infrastructure high availability, performance and scale considerations are built into this tier for performance optimization.

Application platform layer

This layer provides the Converged Edge components on top of TCI to deliver orchestration and lifecycle management of cloud native applications and virtual network functions (VNF). The Distributed Matching Engine (DME), Cloudlet Resource Manager (CRM) and Kubernetes (K8S) clusters reside in this platform, which is assembled using VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO) and NSX-T Data Center from the virtualization layer.

Application layer

The application layer is driven by management components, including the MobiledgeX Edge-Cloud Console (ECC) to deliver the ability for registering and managing cloudlets, deploy applications based on Kubernetes, Docker or virtual machine to edge sites. CNFs are delivered through additional services, such as Tanzu Kubernetes Grid, while VNFs are deployed and managed directly with the VIM.

Conclusion

Think of the Converged Edge Platform as a multi-purpose platform in a single box — a containerized approach that makes it simpler to deploy: 

  • A platform to deliver MEC applications for enterprise industry verticals.  
  • Enterprise connectivity via Private LTE.  
  • An NFVI platform to deliver virtualized services to the enterprise. 

In short, the platform offers a repeatable, scalable approach to 5G for enterprises to more quickly consume technologies.  

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