Billions of devices
The IoT market is undergoing tremendous growth. While predictions and numbers vary, there is an overall trend toward an increase in web connected devices over the next few years. Research firm Gartner, for example, forecasts the number of IoT devices to hit 20.4 billion by 2020, while IHS Markit forecasts as many as 30.7 billion IoT devices by the same time. Consequently, many are looking to leverage multi-access edge computing (MEC) to support the surge of web connected devices.
What is MEC?
MEC is a network architecture that extends IT and cloud computing capabilities to the edge of a cellular network. The big idea behind MEC is to move processing tasks closer to the end user by situating a small edge server between them and the cloud. This takes some of the workload off the shoulders of the cloud, thereby speeding up applications and services that require low latency.
One way MEC can help support the IoT involves boosting the battery life of web connected devices. MEC can help process small packets produced by web connected devices prior to being forwarded to the core network. By reducing the transmission time, IoT devices can use less battery power, prolonging their lifespan in return.
MEC can help support applications and services with reduced latency too. Take smart manufacturing plants as another example, which consist of an interconnected mix of intelligent production technologies. Many manufacturing machines include sensors, which pervade the plant to improve flexibility in production. MEC can help host applications and services that provide real-time visibility and automatic control for manufacturing plants, especially in the absence of a local data center.
Additionally, MEC is expected to play a role in the enablement of self-driving cars, which some tech pioneers hope to make a commercial reality by 2020. These kinds of vehicles are equipped with a host of sensors, and require the right kind of connectivity in order to function. With MEC, information can be immediately processed and forwarded from one vehicle to the next, allowing drivers to receive warnings from other drivers in real-time.
MEC can also help make smart cities function, which depend on interconnected devices to power energy, transportation, communications and the government. MEC is expected to give rise to a host of new services and applications, many of which will be applicable to smart cities. For example, MEC can be used to enable smart lighting infrastructure and smart traffic lights, reducing traffic congestion as a result.
For an in-depth review of the MEC, click here.