Moving from “Cloud” to “Fog” Networks towards 5G Mobile Systems

5G network architecture will not be only about transmission of the information, it will be about integration of processing and storage of that huge information into the communication systems. Therefore traditional cloud servers located within the metro or at the backbone transport network will move closer to the users. This has been already happening with the content distribution networks but this trend is now involving the mobile network segment as well. Mobile cloud or edge cloud is for local content distribution and signal processing.

In European Wireless Conference which was held in Barcelona this year, there were several sessions addressing the future network architectures.
One session was dedicated to the EU project CROWD: Connectivity Management for Energy Optimized Wireless Dense Networks. I would like to mention three papers within this session “Benefits and challenges of cloud technologies for very dense networks “, “Optimizing small cell deployment by the use of C-RANs” and “Wireless and wired network convergence in support of cloud and mobile cloud services: The CONTENT Approach”. CONTENT is actually another interesting EU project focusing on a wireless-optical converged infrastructure to support Cloud and Mobile Cloud computing services interconnecting fixed and mobile end users. Mobile cloud, refers to the computational resources that are close-by to the mobile end users as an alternative to the distant cloud servers.
In “5G Cell-less architectures” session, I would like to mention a very inspiring paper proposing a new network architecture addressing the “mobile cloud” from another perspective, presented by Apostolos Papathanassiou from Intel. “Edge Cloud and Underlay Networks: Empowering 5G Cell-Less Wireless Architecture” .

Figure Example of Edge Cloud and Overlay Network Architecture

In the Figure that I have borrowed from this paper, you can see how the cloud is being extended towards the end users and how the communication technologies diversify from one cloud to another: From upper level clouds to pico clouds and personal clouds, the network systems are changing from fixed backbone network technologies to mobile and M2M communication systems. I agree with Apostolos that we should call this  “Fog” instead of “Cloud”. Get ready for the “Fog Networks” since the computational resources will not be up high in the sky anymore but close to the end users distributed around the network. The biggest challenge is how to integrate and solve the orchestration problem of all this cloud segments. And therefore again we talk about integration and convergence. Indeed, this was a trend since long time but now becoming more reality with the 5G Mobile Systems.

Talking about convergence, another session was dedicated to the EU project COMBO: Fixed Mobile Convergence. A very interesting paper from this session was titled “Feasibility of Base Station Coordination and Dynamic Backhaul Network Configuration in Backhaul Networks with Limited Capacity”. Coordinated multi point (CoMP) is a well investigated subject to reduce interference, however, the idea of combined dynamic resource allocation together with the backhaul network segment was interesting.

About Cicek Cavdar

Cicek Cavdar is working as a researcher at Wireless@KTH and Communications Systems Department at the School of ICT at KTH under RSLab. She has finished her Ph.D studies in Computer Science, University of California, Davis in 2008 and in Istanbul Technical University(ITU), Turkey in 2009. After her PhD, she worked as an Assistant Professor in Computer Engineering Department, ITU. Her research interests include design, performance analysis and optimization of telecom networks with focus on energy efficiency and resilience. Currently she is coordinating the EIT-ICT Labs project "5GrEEn: Towards Green 5G Mobile Networks".
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