5 min read
5G is not an upgrade, it’s a new paradigm
Fueled by the rapid expansion of the cloud, 5G is much more than a network upgrade—it will help create a new application paradigm and pave the way for the emergence of a new breed of network-intelligent applications that enable developers to solve problems previously out of reach. These modern connected apps will use software-defined 5G technology to communicate and interact with the network, leveraging APIs to deliver a high-performance, optimized user experience.
For developers, 5G will unlock use cases across many sectors of industry and society. It will enable massive machine-type communications (MMTC) for billions of devices in complex pipeline monitoring scenarios. It will help solve for mission-critical use cases requiring ultra-reliable low latency (URLLC) such as smart cities, where AR and VR-enabled video devices help people improve safety and security. And it will leverage enhanced mobile broadband (EMBB) to allow thousands of sports fans in a packed stadium to enjoy the on-field action live on their devices, all at the same time.
Imagine the kind of applications you could create if you turned the network from a bottleneck into an asset. If you could manage and control networking functions through software instead of hardware and leverage the cloud everywhere. If you could deploy an enterprise solution globally with the ability to solve problems locally. To manage company assets that react in near real time to conditions as different as a coal mine in Indonesia and a busy highway in the Netherlands.
The 5G opportunity for developers
With this new breed of application, forward-thinking developers will be at the forefront of change. The opportunity lies in bringing together ubiquitous computing and 5G leading to a new class of applications.
Analysys Mason, a management consulting firm, forecasts cumulative six-year enterprise spending on business applications that require 5G totaling $20 billion USD over the 2022-2027 timeframe, growing at a 75 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR).
This is the future of the cloud, and it not only changes how we experience apps but the way they’re built. Developers can now take advantage of new 5G and multi-access edge computing (MEC) capabilities to bring computing closer to the problems they’re trying to solve. Network APIs will play a fundamental role in this change. Developers will be able to leverage network APIs as a control plane to make the best use of available infrastructure and the network. This will give developers more control over application performance and help improve the user experience—and help them move from a single use case model to a write-once, run anywhere ability to scale.
But developing applications for 5G is still an emerging area and accessing the opportunity is like trying to enter a building with no door. Anyone trying to enter confronts a host of complexities including a wide range of standards, multiple vendors and operators, and numerous network configurations.
How Microsoft enables the opportunity for developers
At Microsoft, we’re opening the door to the power of 5G to help developers take full advantage of the opportunity. We recognize the challenges developers face when forced to build on multiple networks or work within walled gardens that restrict data usage across outside platforms. Microsoft is committed to helping developers create on their own terms with a distributed, open-source environment and to build on a consistent, carrier-agnostic platform. And we are at the forefront of an effort to help standardize APIs, coordinating work across technology and communications providers.
Microsoft covers the full app development lifecycle with multi-cloud support, so solution components can be run on multiple clouds and on all Azure and Azure edge-based services from public and private MEC, Azure Stack HCI, Azure Sphere, and space. New networking capabilities will help developers optimize app performance cross-network (for example, private MEC to public MEC) and cross-layer, where information can be shared among layers for more efficient use of network resources and to achieve high adaptivity. Developers will have the freedom to choose their preferred development framework and language while taking advantage of familiar Microsoft tools such as GitHub, Power Platform, Azure DevOps, and more.
An Azure-based portal will give developers all the resources they need to build 5G apps, from installation to testing to management. Azure Arc will help developers build apps and services with flexibility to run across Azure, multiple clouds, data centers, and edge environments through a unified management platform built for multi-cloud and hybrid. And as the cloud everywhere enables ubiquitous connectivity, our focus on security remains with built-in zero trust for the security issues of the future.
Last, we know as a developer you are always considering how to push your applications to do more. By taking advantage of ubiquitous compute and 5G, you can run complex AI workloads with confidence thanks to ultra-reliable connectivity. Imagine taking these network-intelligent apps to market and the opportunities to expand your reach by uploading your apps to Azure Marketplace—where your work can be discovered by Microsoft’s wide network of enterprises, systems integrators (SIs), and operators.
Microsoft’s vision for 5G, brought to life with Ferrovial
We’re opening the door for developers to seize the 5G opportunity and recently shared a great real-world example at Build, showcasing a partnership between Microsoft and a Spanish multinational company using 5G to build smart highways.
As highways become more digitized to improve safety, Ferrovial has created a digital smart roads solution called AIVIA, where the road is “exposed as an API,” enabling infrastructure to automatically adjust in real-time to changing situations and information gathered from cameras and sensors placed along the highway. In this way, Ferrovial can create a digital twin of the highway in real-time to mirror road conditions.
In another scenario, Ferrovial built an AI solution for object recognition to identify safety hazards such as debris or broken-down vehicles. Ferrovial can offer these services to drivers or expose the information as APIs to connected vehicles or autonomous cars. For example, they can identify traffic congestion and automatically respond by updating digital highway signs.
Powering the intelligent video analysis is an accelerator called Edge Video Services (EVS), a Microsoft platform for developing video analytics solutions that can be deployed on Azure public MEC. It provides intelligent, real-time video analytics for the Ferrovial use case, including vehicle counting. EVS splits computation across private and public MEC or regular Azure regions and is optimized to work with 5G networks to make the best use of the underlying infrastructure. See more on how the Ferrovial solution functions.
The ultra-reliability and intelligence collected by these devices demonstrate how 5G can help developers achieve mission-critical workload results in highly complex, real-world scenarios. For Ferrovial, it’s literally solving safety problems at the roadside. And because Azure is virtually everywhere, it can be managed all through one unified and flexible platform.
Paving the way for developers to build modern connected apps at the edge with 5G
The new paradigm is here. Microsoft is committed to helping developers act on the 5G opportunity and build the next generation of network-intelligent applications on an open-source platform with proven building blocks for 5G app innovation.
We believe now is the ideal time for developers to benefit from the coming transformation and we’re proving our commitment to 5G by investing heavily in a platform designed to unlock the possibilities.
Our goal is to pave the way for you to innovate from the cloud to the edge to space—Microsoft offers developers a platform and ecosystem strong enough to support the vision, and the vast potential of 5G. The cloud is expanding into a ubiquitous, highly distributed fabric that’s bringing faster computing closer to the problems developers are trying to solve. And unlocking new scenarios only limited by our imaginations.
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