Frame, rods and beads of the edge computing abacus

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Bhardwaj, Ketan
Gavrilovska, Ada
Schwan, Karsten
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Emerging applications enabled by powerful end-user devices and 5G technologies, pose demands for reduced access latencies to web services and dramatic increase in the back-haul network capacity. In response, edge computing---the use of computational resources closer to end devices, at the edge of network---is becoming an attractive approach to addressing these demands. Going beyond point solutions, the vision of edge computing is to enable web services to deploy their edge functions (EF) in a multi-tenant infrastructure present at the edge of the mobile networks. However, there are critical technical challenges that need to be addressed to make that vision possible. This dissertation addresses three such critical challenges: 1. Demonstration of benefits of edge functions for real world, highly dynamic and large scale Android app ecosystem: (i) AppFlux and AppSachets, to relieve bandwidth pressure due to existing app delivery mechanisms, (ii) Ephemeral apps and app slices that rethink the app delivery for emerging app usage models, to highlight that the edge computing can enable transformational changes in the computing landscape beyond just latency and bandwidth optimizations. 2. Design and implementation of AirBox – a secure, lightweight and flexible edge function platform needed by web services to deploy and manage their EFs on edge computing nodes on-demand. AirBox is based on a detailed experimental design space exploration for system level mechanisms that are suitable for an edge function platform to address the technical challenges associated with provisioning, management and EF security. AirBox leverages state-of-the-art hardware-assisted and OS-agnostic security features, such as Intel SGX, to prescribe a reference design of a secure EF. 3. Finally, a solution to the most critical issue of enabling edge functions while preserving end to end security guarantees. Today, when most web services are delivered over encrypted traffic, it is impossible for edge functions to provide meaningful functionalities without compromising security or obviating performance benefits of EFs. Secure protocol extensions (SPX) can efficiently maintain the proposed End-to-Edge-to-End (E3) security semantics. Using SPX, we accomplish the seemingly impossible task of allowing edge functions to operate on encrypted traffic transmitted over secure protocols with modest overheads, while ensuring their security semantics, and continuing to provide the benefits of edge computing.
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