Written by Chris Wilder
We have been busy at Kontron and were excited to tell you about it in Barcelona. Sadly, MWC 2020 was the show that almost was. Even though we could not attend, we wanted to share with the telecom community what we are up to and how we are solving challenges in the Edge and vRAN space.
Who is Kontron?
Headquartered in Augsburg, Germany, Kontron is a leading provider of embedded and server-based OEM/ODM solutions designed to thrive in challenging and harsh environments. Our products support critical systems for some of the largest providers in avionics, defense, infotainment/media, transportation/AV, medical, energy, communications, and IIoT. For example, if you have ever been on a plane and logged onto the Wi-Fi or watched a movie, chances are, delivered on a Kontron system. On the other hand, if you streamed an HD video to your mobile device, the servers that drove the video transcoding software was likely from Kontron.
Radio Access Networks (vRAN) is the foundation for the 5G Edge
With the explosion of IoT and mobility, communication technologies are shifting from a centralized data center model to a distributed model to support customer demand. Further, edge devices are increasingly required to process more information closer to the end-point. vRAN is not only the foundation for 5G but also a way to improve the congestion and performance of 4G and LTE networks. vRAN solutions also simplify the deployment of new demanding services and algorithms for streaming media, machine-to-machine (M2M) data, artificial intelligence (AI), and other communications services.
In 2019, we commissioned analyst firm Analysis Mason to interview over 200 enterprises and service providers on their plans, reasons, and concerns when considering edge technologies. Here are a few of those results:
- Most organizations expect a 30-50% reduction in costs by moving workloads to the Edge. Retail, Transportation, and Manufacturing especially hope to see a significant cost reduction.
- Companies are expecting an increase in revenue by an average of 6% after 3-years by moving workloads to the Edge. Healthcare, Transportation, and Manufacturing are the top three.
- Cybersecurity is the biggest concern and driver across all sectors with manufacturing (83%), financial services (82%), and transportation (80%)
- Geographically, in Japan, 98% of firms surveyed have begun migrating workloads from public and private cloud environments to the Edge. In Germany, 80% of companies cite security and privacy as a significant inhibitor to moving workloads to the Edge. In the UK, 84% of respondents say the main driver for edge computing is to normalize data and rationalize systems, while in North America, 80% stated Edge gives them the ability to reduce overall infrastructure costs.
What did this data tell us? 1.) Edge servers must be cost-effective 2.) They must be secure and designed for harsh environments 3.) Most importantly, Edge servers must have a long product life cycle that is flexible and powerful enough to handle demanding applications.
A Complete Hardware Platform for vRAN and Edge solutions
Kontron offers two classes of servers that help our customers and partners to deploy new, revenue-generating services at the Edge. Our Mobile Edge (ME) series cabinet servers can be rack mounted on a base station or encased on the tower. The ruggedized server (RS) is ideal for wall or pole mounting. Our Edge servers address the needs of our customers and partners by:
A Ruggedized Form Factor
Both servers can perform in various conditions and extended temperature ranges (-40c - 65c) with the option for an IP65 hardened version to defend against dust and water. Because each environment is different, our servers support both AC and DC power. Our Edge series servers leverage high-performance materials for maximum durability and performance.
Low Total Cost of Ownership, High Availability and low size weight and power (SWaP)
A hallmark of Kontron's is to deliver solutions that are reliable and cost-effective. With component partners like Intel and vRAN software providers like Altiostar and Mavenir, we have developed a long product roadmap that reduces costs and improves efficiency. Further, Kontron is known for providing consistent and tested configurations to ensure application functionality. Unlike our competition, our ME servers were built from the ground up to be a distributed unit (DU).
Long Product Lifecycles
Hardware is nearly 70% of the overall cost in most software deployments, and for now, it is the only way to run the software. For the Edge market to thrive, service providers must ensure predictability and visibility into their planning and deployments. At the Edge, truck-rolls and outages create margin erosion and increased cost. By having a long product lifecycle, our customers and partners can plan more efficiently, reduce their time to market, lower market entry expenses, and, most importantly, have consistent BIOS and hardware settings provide for uniform patching and maintenance.
Security & Servicing
One of the main things we were excited about showing off at MWC2020 were improvements and enhancements in our Edge security and service capabilities. From a physical security standpoint, our ME & RS servers each have intrusion detection, alarms/alerts, and monitoring functionality. On the management front, we provide IoT patterns and practices, and modern authentication and authorization protocols, predictive analysis, upgrade services, and preventative maintenance management. Finally, we have implemented a secure payload within our boot process. We are so confident in our security functionality we are putting our money where our mouth is. Kontron has launched a $1,000 prize for anyone that can hack our BMC - go to www.hackmybmc.com to try. Lastly, assembled and built in North America we work to ensure supply chain visibility and product integrity.
Unfortunately, we could not enjoy the chaos, tapas, and Rojo that makes MWC so unique, but we will be back bigger and better in 2021. Until then, we can say, MWC2020 was the show that almost was...