Feb 24, 2018
Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.
5G is going to have an impact on business — and on society as a whole — more profound than the introduction of electricity more than 100 years ago. This is a bold statement. But at Qualcomm Technologies, we firmly believe this is what 5G portends. Why? Because 5G wireless edge will be the enabler, indeed, the engine of the next data revolution. This innovation platform, which enables the exchange of information among every connected thing, will lead to new services, ecosystems, and business models. In fact, the wireless edge is already driving IoT deployments, well before the 5G-NR air interface is available, and the era of centralized cloud computing is evolving to the era of connected, distributed computing.
This move toward wireless edge intelligence can now scale to many billions of smart, connected devices — in the home, in the enterprise, and in industry. The key word is “can.” Significant technology challenges must be addressed at a system level (hardware and software) for this vision to become reality. 5G and IOT ecosystems must evolve beyond the cellular communication protocols and develop solutions around three key principles:
- High trust and security
- Zero-touch device-cloud integration
- Device lifecycle management with up to date feature set
High trust and security
The continuous flow of headlines about security flaws and attacks is a constant reminder that the wireless edge revolution can only fully happen once security aspects are addressed natively, and trust is rooted deeply in the system.
Given the variety of verticals, industries, and devices, trust is going to be established among players in a tiered and modular manner, tailored to the characteristics of the device (processing, power consumption, cost, accessibility) and the nature of the use case. However, the following principles will be foundational across all applications and devices:
- Security rooted in hardware, even at the lowest tier
- Security as a native property of the entire system design across all layers and nodes
- Multi-layered security: multiple layers of authentication, attestation, software integrity checks to strengthen the overall trust of the platform
- Protection of user data and its use subject to end user (or enterprise) consent
Zero-touch device-cloud integration
Future deployments are moving to a system level where a combination of devices, intermediate nodes, and the cloud are becoming a distributed processing engine. Devices must evolve with cloud integration in mind from the very beginning. A scalable solution for edge device security and trusted identity, discussed in previous section, is a fundamental enabler of this. In addition, the procedures for onboarding and registering devices to a management platform need to be zero-touch, seamless, and secure. We will need scalable algorithms with minimal user intervention to enable the cloud to securely identify end devices and intermediate nodes to establish trust with them via proper and secure communication channels.
There will be many different competing cloud solutions tailored to specific user needs. Devices will need to be “cloud-ready,” and deployable across a wide range of cloud platforms and seamlessly transition to new cloud platforms.
Device lifecycle management with up-to-date feature sets
As industries start to consider connectivity solutions to products that have never been connected, one important factor to be aware of is that industrial IoT devices have longer lifecycles than consumer IoT products. The pace of technology evolution will trigger new use cases and applications which end users will require deployed devices to support and which will open new service and financial opportunities. Devices will therefore need some measure of future proofing of both function and performance. In addition, the diverse requirements for the IOT and 5G device portfolio will require a more efficient way to manage SKU and product versions.
To enable such opportunities, the wireless edge platform must be able to establish secure, flexible, and smooth procedures to evolve device capabilities beyond the initial feature set without the need to completely replace devices: processing, connectivity, and other device functionalities will have to be upgradable, over-the-air and, at a minimum, provide operational impact for the end user.
Qualcomm wireless edge services
These three principles will play a critical role when evolving the traditional cellular ecosystem to support non-traditional 5G participants and new business models.
The Qualcomm wireless edge services platform is engineered to support a solution framework to address the technical and business challenges described above:
- By introducing a chipset as a service business model, in which the value of certain chipset capabilities can be unlocked over time through services, ecosystem players should now have the tools to realize long-term device value and reduce total cost of ownership
- With security rooted in the chipset hardware, it is designed to support trusted device identity and protection against compromised devices; it will facilitate the deployment of edge devices at scale, as well as efficient zero-touch lifecycle management through services such as plug-and-play onboarding, and on-demand and over-the-air feature activation
We will showcase and demo Qualcomm wireless edge services at Mobile World Congress in Qualcomm booth.
In part two of this blog series, I will go into some of the details on how Qualcomm wireless edge services implement the three principles described above and how it will support the wireless edge revolution.