Blurring of the Lines with Cloud and Small Cell Systems

By Art King, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies, SpiderCloud Wireless -

In an enterprise where 80% of the mobile traffic is generated indoors, the opportunity that a "blurring of the lines" strategy presents is that any-medium delivery of wireless services where guests and employees have a level playing field for access. Longer term, to create great Quality of Experience (QoE), cloud and mobility application developers now have another platform at their disposal to move the mobile operator point-of-presence for all or part of select enterprise class applications into the enterprise premises. This is envisaged as a family of Edge Cloud applications where the mobile network can be joined to the enterprise or part of a cloud application can execute more efficiently and with perceptibly better QoE for the mobile device owner if it’s local to the premise.

There is opportunity in adapting to the wholesale changes in the enterprise environment coupled with the sharply increasing capabilities in mobile network infrastructure, edge processing capability, and devices. “Why” you may ask? Keep this in mind. A recent comment by Banking CIO: “I would buy Wireless LAN from a 3rd party and be comfortable because we don’t extend trust to networks.” Whereas as comment by Telecom Security CTO stated “The perimeter security model is broken due to how it evolved.” Thus, enterprises must focus on selective protection of important business computing platforms. While applications developers, network security, and data center operations teams adapt to this crazy new world where they have lost control of their internal customers, there is an opportunity for the CIO to be positioned to blur the lines between traditional IT and service providers and benefit both financially and operationally.

To set the stage, imagine in the drawing below that the trust boundary is moved towards the data center and that internal private networks are treated like public networks, but with richer features and additional control.

With this approach, the infrastructure is now open to network services acquisition from mobile operators without the level of security concern that existed in the past. This can be transformational to innovation economics in the enterprise by removing the need for capital funding for every activity on the network and allowing the acquisition of fully operationalized services as an incremental cost on the monthly device bill instead of the traditional buy/build/run model where the enterprise is wholly responsible for the service. As IT staff dollars and capital requests for infrastructure get struck from the budget in favor of business software improvements, having the infrastructure be positioned to easily adopt services that blur the lines between the enterprise and their trusted service providers becomes more important than ever.

The foundational layer is SpiderCloud’s E-RAN architecture. The SpiderCloud Enterprise Radio Access Network (E-RAN) system makes use of an enterprise’s existing Ethernet infrastructure for connectivity and power. An E-RAN consists of the SpiderCloud Radio Node (SCRN) and the SpiderCloud Services Node (SCSN). The SCSN provides central configuration, able to control over 100 self-organizing and multi-access 3G, Wi-Fi, and LTE/4G small cells. The Radio Nodes connect over enterprise-Ethernet Local Area Network (LAN) and/or a virtual LAN (VLAN) to the Services Node, which securely connects to the mobile operator’s core network. Its breakthrough architecture is uniquely suited to Edge Cloud application use and is similar to the ESCC (Enterprise Small Cell Concentrator) described in the Small Cells Forum Release 2: Enterprise Architecture. Not only does the Services Node do all the basic housekeeping for indoor operations, mobility, and facilitating the connection to the mobile core, but also it is aware of all events across the architecture. The operating system in the Services Node presents APIs and infrastructure services that applications can subscribe to. The Services Node features an Intel Xeon 64bit x86 architecture Services and Applications processor that uses Intel Quick Assist Technology, and a 120GB solid-state HDD, and offers a virtualized environment for a wide range of applications with a hypervisor such that application virtual machines can be locally hosted. By hosting the processor in the Services Node, the cost of the Intel Xeon processor core and the hosted apps is spread across all the Radio Nodes managed by the Services Node. While earlier attempts to implement Edge Cloud demonstrated the functional feasibility of it, the ROI models struggled with achieving profitability due to relatively small number of radios.

Additionally, the Edge Cloud, due to it’s location in the enterprise premise, has visibility to UMTS and LTE RANs, the mobile core, enterprise network, and Internet communications paths. Edge Cloud applications also have access to onboard IPSec hardware accelerator, Trusted Platform Module (PKI certificate vault), and Backhaul (with QoS policy control). These additional value added services boost Edge Cloud App performance, security and economics.

How does this help with cloud computing? For cloud computing, the data center can securely federate the cloud back-end infrastructure and the mobile IT access strategy to seamlessly accommodate the front-end access method. A solid strategy will provide protection for device resident enterprise data and access such that mobile devices are not a jump-off point to break into the enterprise from a remote point on the globe.

In summary, enterprises who position their IT architecture so when the compelling services are offered to the CIO by service providers they can blur the lines between infrastructures with less resistance than the current trust boundary may subject them to at the network perimeter.

This Edge Cloud vision was operated over the air, to the great interest of attending mobile operators, at MWC 2014. Intel and SpiderCloud partnered with a diverse group of systems developers to show the “art of the possible” in the world of scalable small cells to transform the enterprise relationship from dating (SIMs and devices) to marriage (deep services and shared IT relationships).     

Speaking as a former Enterprise Infrastructure Architect (Mobility/Collaboration at Nike, Inc.), the opportunities for mobile operators to help address enterprise BYOD and mobility challenges for enterprise IT departments are there. Opportunities to cultivate value-added services beyond coverage and capacity in the Enterprise space are built upon strong customer relationships and a proven technical foundation. Positive mindshare and perceptions in the eyes of the enterprise buyers will create invitations to future opportunities.

For more you can find me on Twitter @ArtKingg