ICCS/NTUA 19 May 2021
The forthcoming massive usage of edge-to-cloud computing solutions in the frame of large IoT deployments in smart cities and industrial applications may deem the current approaches insufficient. The main goal in such scenarios remains the same: to ensure that the overall offered Quality of Service (QoS) fits the application needs over the edge or edge/cloud deployment. However, the expectations behind the QoS per se are ever increasing, as new applications appear on the edge.
Speed and latency issues have been identified as the top barrier in this domain, while cost and reliability are the top and second most important factors for evaluating edge and cloud services. At the same time, network capabilities also play a very important role. Especially performance may hinder the adaptation of edge solutions for a variety of applications (e.g. in the Virtual Reality applications), for which timely completion is vital. In such cases, specialised and expensive solutions are preferred over generic edge computing or cloud infrastructures, something that creates additional costs or excludes a wide set of SMEs from being competitive or even operational.
The expectations related to the QoS and the corresponding challenges are mirrored in the context of Service-Level Agreements (SLAs): commitments between service providers and clients within the terms of the corresponding contracts. The management of SLAs in Edge-to-Cloud computing is a complex task due to the great heterogeneity of computing infrastructures and networks and their varying runtime conditions. However, SLA management should still be supported by mechanisms that can maintain the guaranteed SLAs to the customer side.
Automatic mechanisms ensuring the execution of agreements between entities are already in place in several other domains. Such is the case of Smart Contracts (protocols/programs automatically documenting and executing legally relevant actions according to the terms of an agreement) being used in the context of Blockchain and Decentralised Applications (DApps). What if these solutions could be used for SLAs management in Edge and Cloud Computing?
PLEDGER will extend the work that has already been performed in implementation of Smart Contracts for blockchain-based IoT applications to cover edge computing architectures and support the implementation of decentralised applications on the edge. The consortium will build a reference multi-layer architecture comprising of different peer networks hierarchies based on the edge capabilities and their capacity to deliver specific QoS applications. Moreover, PLEDGER will study and implement smart contracts that will collaborate with the SLA specific contractual terms in order to let the edge resources negotiate the level of service to be delivered to the edge resource user, while at the same time the specific contractual terms will be bound to a smart contract that is deployed and executed on the PLEDGER blockchain.