How cloud and edge computing are revolutionizing the Smart Industry

As the industrial automation sector continues to evolve thanks to the application of 5G in smart factories, the needs and requirements that need to be supported in the upcoming years must be considered.

This will unlock future use cases in the industrial domain: for example, stringent latency targets will need to be supported to realise demanding motion control use cases.

Service-level specifications (SLSs) and the corresponding management mechanisms are necessary to align the offerings of 5G communication service providers with the requirements of connected industry use cases. SLSs serve the purpose of measuring the dependability of communication systems, for example: minimum network availability, maximum end-to-end latency, minimum communication service availability, etc.

5G offers a set of relevant features related to SLS assurances, for example:

  • The flexiblity of cloud-native architectures can be exploited to build a more robust 5G core.
  • Netwok slicing provides a variety of deployment options, yielding more dynamic and flexible architectures.
  • Redundancy mechanisms can improve system availability, performance, and/or reliability.

In addition, some mechanisms can be exploited to achieve assurance:

  • Quality of service monitoring, be it in the end-to-end system or individual domains
  • Network diagnostics to help find, analyze, and identify problems within a network
  • SLS prediction mechanisms along with required actions for assurance
  • Closed-loop SLS assurance, leveraging the use of machine learning algorithms

However, since there is a large variety of industrial use cases, and in order to support the achievement of the necessary SLSs, technology providers should be able to offer tailored and optimised solutions for different use case scenarios. So how can this flexibility be achieved?

How will cloudification and edg computing enable new industrial use cases?

In order to support the further development of industrial communications and, consequentially, of the future requirements of the industrial automation sector, some key aspects need to be addressed. For example, the ability to offer tailored and optimized solutions for different scenarios should be enabled by open interfaces and scalable architectures, leveraging the virtualization of the network infrastructure to facilitate highly modular solutions.

In this regard, network cloudification is an growing trend among communication service providers. One building block of telco clouds is the combination of network functions virtualization and software defined networks, which provide programmable connectivity, yielding a much needed flexibility that can be tailored to different scenarios. In cloud-native infrastructures, telcos are able to leverage the cloud to provide connectivity and cloud services such as infrastructure as a service or platform as a service.

Use cases in the smart industry domain will benefit from the flexibility and modularity of cloud native networks. Moreover, use cases using demanding control loops with stringent latency requirements will also benefit from the use of edge computing, which refers to the extension of the cloud to the industrial floor. By bringing data processing and analysis closer to the source where such data is generated, edge computing can provide ultra-low latency and high bandwidth. Not only that, edge computing also offers task offloading capabilities and task scheduling capabilities. Together with real-time access to radio network information, edge computing paves the way for the development of novel industrial use cases with stringent requirements.

How will Zero-SWARM contribute to this?

Zero-SWARM will adopt the cloud and edge computing paradigm in the IT domain at various levels:

  • For the orchestration of virtual network functions running in an IT-edge server.
  • For the deployment of the 5G core functions within the industrial facilities.
  • For the implementation of zero touch management capabilities that guarantee the fulfilment of critical performance parameters.
  • Though the addition of virtual infrastructure management capabilities to customer premise equipment that can be deployed next to the production lines for low latency.

Read full article here by @estelac‍, research engineer at i2Cat Foundation.

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