Industry Specification Group (ISG) on Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC)

Chair: Alex Reznik, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise

Tasked with developing specifications that will allow the hosting of operator and third-party applications in a multi-vendor Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) environment and accelerating the development of edge applications across the industry, to increase market scale and improve market economics.

A key enabler for 5G, Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) technology enables IT service and Cloud computing capabilities at the edge of the access network.

Shifting processing power away from remote data centres and closer to the end user, it enables an environment that is characterized by proximity and ultra-low latency, and provides exposure to real-time network and context information.

Giving access to a tightly-controlled set of services via standardized Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), MEC lets operators open their networks to authorized third parties, allowing them to rapidly deploy innovative new applications and services for use by subscribers, enterprises and vertical segments.

MEC is identified as a key enabler for the IoT and mission-critical vertical solutions, from interactive gaming and Virtual Reality to Intelligent Transport Systems and the industrial Internet. Advancing the transformation of the mobile broadband network into a programmable environment, it satisfies the demanding requirements of these and other applications (on emerging 5G as well as existing 3G/4G systems) in terms of expected throughput, latency, scalability and automation. It also offers additional privacy and security and ensures significant cost savings.

Our Multi-access Edge Computing Industry Specification Group (ISG MEC) creates a standardized environment that allows seamless integration of applications from vendors, service providers and third-parties across multi-vendor MEC platforms.

Its main responsibility is to produce Group Specifications, Group Reports and other collateral (e.g. serialized API specifications, white papers) that enable the hosting of third-party applications in an interoperable MEC environment. All MEC APIs are freely available from the ETSI Forge (forge.etsi.org).

Following formal completion of the group’s ‘Phase 1’ core work, ISG MEC continued in 2019 to pursue its ‘Phase 2’ activities, driven by new market requirements and use cases such as automotive. Extending the applicability of MEC beyond 3GPP to other mobile access networks, Phase 2 also focuses on operational and implementation issues, addressing topics such as charging, regulatory compliance, support of mobility and support for containers. Work on integration with ETSI’s ISG on Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) is also planned for completion during Phase 2: active collaboration between MEC and NFV groups is driving this forward.

Progress was made during the year on several deliverables. Two Group Reports consider MEC support for containers / alternative virtualization technologies and support for network slicing. Other work includes publications on MEC 5G integration; a Vehicular-to-Everything (V2X) API; and a Fixed Access Information API for cable, xDSL and Point-to-Point fibre Ethernet access to MEC. In addition we created or revised several other specifications: these include an API for end-to-end ME application mobility support in a multi-access edge system; MEC location API; and WLAN Information API.

See the full list of all ISG MEC deliverables published in 2019 via our website.

We also launched new work on publicly accessible sandbox environment – to be hosted on the ETSI Forge website – for demonstrating and experimenting with MEC service APIs.

Established at the end of 2018, our Deployment and ECOsystem Development (DECODE) Working Group is focused exclusively on issues related to deployment and ecosystem development of MEC. During its first year of existence DECODE has managed three STFs and become a hub for exchanging information on several ongoing open source projects such as Akraino, AdvantEdge and Openstack. 

ETSI’s popular Hackathon events provide a platform for the IT development community to validate our specifications through live demonstrations and practical challenges. The 2019 MEC Hackathon in September invited teams to test their skills as Multi-Access Edge Application developers – demonstrating MEC as an enabler for different use cases and business objectives and driving development of a diverse, open ecosystem.

During the year ISG MEC was present at several industry events, including: Zero Touch Automation (March, Madrid), Network Transformation Congress (April-May, San Jose in USA), 5G World Conference (June, London), Edge Computing Congress (September, London), SDN NFV World Congress (October, The Hague).

A particular highlight was our participation in October at TU-Automotive Europe, a 2-day event bringing together attendees from across the automotive market ecosystem. The event served as a platform for the ISG MEC Vice Chair to update delegates on MEC standards and APIs with a focus on the automotive domain, where MEC will serve as an enabler for interoperability of data exchange in multi-vendor and multi-operator environments.

October also saw publication of the joint White Paper ‘Network Transformation: Orchestration, Network and Service Management Framework’, drafted with contributions from the Chairs of ETSI’s ENI, MEC, NFV and ZSM ISGs.

The Group meanwhile published an update to its existing White Paper ‘Developing Software for Multi-Access Edge Computing, originally issued in 2017.

During the year ISG MEC maintained its regular interactions with industry groups including 5GAA, 5G ACIA, ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 41 and OpenStack. 

Look out for in 2020 – ISG MEC work in progress

  • Group Specification (GS) on WLAN Information API – describing information flows, required information; specifies necessary operations, data model and data format
  • GS on V2X (Vehicular-to-Everything) Information Service - to facilitate V2X interoperability in multi-vendor, multi-network and multi-access environment: specifies necessary API with data model and data format
  • GR on MEC 5G integration - addressing MEC application function control plane interactions with 5GC, including mapping of MEC procedures to procedures used in 3GPP 5G system; options for functional split between MEC and 5G Common API frameworks; organization of MEC as application functions of 5G system and interactions with (Radio) Access Network
  • GS on MEC IoT API - defines API necessary to enable provisioning and configuration of associated components and applications requiring connection to devices that require additional support in a MEC environment, e.g. due to security constraints, limited power, compute and communication capabilities
  • GS (multi-part) on API Conformance Test Specification
  • Revision to GS on MEC Phase 2: Use Cases and Requirements – adding new use cases, and specify related new normative technical requirements
  • Revision to GS on Framework and Reference Architecture
  • Revision to GS on general principles, patterns and common aspects of MEC Service APIs
  • Revision to GS on MEC Management; Part 2: application lifecycle, rules and requirements management – describes information flows, required information, and specifies necessary operations, data models and data formats to support related features identified by existing requirements and alignment with the ETSI NFV Management and Orchestration Interface Specifications
  • Revision to GS on Edge Platform Application Enablement - enhancement and maintenance of Mp1 reference point between MEC applications and MEC platform, allowing those applications to interact with the MEC system: includes defining new features in support of other services e.g. application mobility support
  • Revision to GS on Traffic Management APIs - extending bandwidth management service for supporting QoS and Multi-Access Traffic Steering (MTS) Management on MEC platform
  • Revision to GS on device application interface MX2API - enhancement of API for device application interface over Mx2 reference point
  • Group Report on applicability of MEC specifications to inter-MEC systems and MEC-Cloud systems coordination supporting e.g. application instance relocation and synchronization
  • MI on MEC Sandbox - including API server prototypes with sufficient capability to facilitate exploration of selected MEC service APIs by application developers and candidate MEC hackathons entrants