Moving mobile communication onto the cloud
The EU MOBILE CLOUD NETWORKING project, which was officially completed at the end of April 2016, has effectively integrated domains, cloud computing services and mobile networks in order to provide the canvas upon which Europe's future mobile network services can be run. This is vitally important. If European companies are to take advantage of the technologies offered by cloud computing, then communication networks must be appropriately re-designed.
At the European Conference on Networks and Communications (EUCNC) last year, the project team unveiled some of their achievements, demonstrating the deployment of a Mobile Core Network (MCN) on cloud infrastructure and showing how this can be utilised for developing typical mobile networking services. Much of this work is now available for further exploitation and eventual commercialisation.
EU action in the telecommunications sector has in recent decades led to greater consumer choice, falling call costs and higher standards of service. However, mobile services have yet to fully tap the vast commercial potential offered by cloud computing, which is why the results of the MOBILE CLOUD NETWORKING project could be of great industry interest.
By leveraging Europe's excellence in mobile communications and extending this into the cloud arena – at present almost exclusively in the hands of US companies – the project will help European telecommunication companies remain globally competitive in an industry worth around EUR 300 billion in the EU alone.
Cloud computing is about sharing computing resources rather than having local servers or personal devices handling each individual application. In this sense, 'cloud' is a metaphor for 'the Internet,' where services—such as servers, storage and applications—are delivered to an organisation's computers and devices through the Internet. This means that high performance computing's power to perform tens of trillions of computations per second can be tapped into for consumer-oriented applications.
The arrangement pioneered by the MOBILE CLOUD NETWORKING project works like this. Instead of contracting mobile connectivity from one or several mobile operators an organisation such as a utility provider with demand for mobile communication would sign a contract with an MCN provider. The MCN provider itself would maintain contracts with a set of cloud-ready mobile networks and data centre providers.
Furthermore, the proliferation of mobile internet access and services has driven huge increase in mobile data traffic. The internet now performs millions of tasks, from online banking to tsunami monitoring, and data traffic volumes are expected to grow 12-fold by 2018. Tapping the full potential of the cloud, as this EU-funded project has done, is a key way of reducing infrastructure expenditure, achieving efficiencies and creating space for further anticipated data growth.