Announcements, Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), Azure Stack Edge, Hybrid + Multicloud, Microsoft Azure Private 5G Core, Networking
Azure private MEC delivers modern connected applications for industries
By Martin Lund Corporate Vice President, Azure for Operators
8 min read
Since introducing Azure private multi-access edge compute (MEC) in public preview (June 2021), we have continued to further our mission of empowering enterprises and governments to achieve more with modern connected applications. Azure private MEC simplifies adoption of these applications by enterprises with cloud-managed edge infrastructure and services combined with edge networking. Private 5G is paving the way to unlock innovative Industry 4.0 services for enterprises worldwide. As part of our ongoing efforts, we are also introducing new capabilities to provide wider connectivity choices, increased reliability, unified management, and broader platform options to serve global enterprises at scale.
Azure private MEC is continually being built and delivered by an expanding set of operators, SIs, and ISV partners. Our partners serve a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, transportation, logistics, energy, retail, and defense. Enterprises now have a choice to select the right application, deploy quickly, and scale at their own pace. Click the logos to watch these digital transformation stories from our partners and their customers:
Enterprises customers in their own words
“NEXCOM understands that collaborating with partners is crucial to success. Inventec’s complete 5G end-to-end connectivity and Smart Factory solutions using Azure Private 5G Core perfectly complement our own offerings and fill the Communications Technology gap. What impressed us most is Inventec’s pioneering efforts to adopt the solutions in its own factory, with proven ROI. And with the high speed and ultra-low latency of a secured, private 5G network vs. Wi-Fi, the AMR can be deployed in our factory more efficiently, while improving productivity and overall operations.“-Clement Lin, CEO NEXCOM.
“Q-tainer is a rugged device that can withstand the harsh environment of construction sites. Rhomberg Sersa brings the know-how of construction to the table, and Datwyler helps solve our IT challenges, and enables us to support and scale the system globally. We have a long-standing relationship with Microsoft for their hardware and software solutions. We are using Azure Stack Edge and Azure Private 5G Core to integrate the Q-tainer) with our construction sites.“-Hubert Rhomberg, Co-Owner Rhomberg Sersa Rail.
Azure Private 5G Core is now generally available
Last year at MWC Barcelona, we introduced the public preview of Azure Private 5G Core-a simple, scalable, and secure deployment of a 5G standalone core network deployed on the Azure Stack Edge platform. Azure Private 5G Core enables deployment and management of 5G core network functions on a small footprint edge compute for a private mobile network on enterprise premises. It connects with 4G and 5G radio access networks, devices, SIM, and applications supplied by a growing list of solution partners.
We are pleased to announce that it is now generally available to deploy and manage core network deployments at any enterprise site around the world. This release includes a range of new and enhanced features: support for 4G LTE and 5G standalone radios, rapid deployment on Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) on Azure Stack Edge Pro with GPU, and multi-site deployment.
This release introduces a built-in metrics dashboard, enhanced availability (including a disconnected mode for increased resilience), advanced SIM security, custom policy with QoS support, and support for select Azure Stack Edge and HCI hardware platforms. Multi-slicing and multi-DNN capability provides granular integration with appropriate enterprise LAN or WAN data networks.
If you are ready to deploy a private 4G or 5G network, get started today with Azure Private 5G Core from Azure Marketplace.
Introducing Azure Edge Network Fabric
Operational technology (OT) devices require an enterprise to choose from a variety of access methods and physical network devices for network capabilities. However, a lack of unified lifecycle management, policy configuration, and troubleshooting make it complex for the enterprise to run such multi-access networks in support of their Industry 4.0 initiatives.
To solve these complex issues, Azure Edge Network Fabric provides secure, policy-based routing between multi-access devices at a customer’s premises to local applications, cloud, and edge networking like firewall or SD WAN, hosted on Azure private MEC. It is a high-performance, small footprint container network function, managed from the cloud, that simplifies private MEC deployments. At private preview, Azure Edge Network Fabric will converge traffic from IoT devices across both Wi-Fi and 5G connectivity into a common enterprise network environment.
In collaboration with CommScope, with their enterprise-grade Wi-Fi solution, and Azure Edge Network Fabric, private MEC now supports Wi-Fi and 5G access as one unified network, simplifying operation and management of private networks.
Introducing Radio Access Network (RAN) Observability
The flexibility to choose from pre-validated RAN vendors introduces complexity for monitoring multi-vendor networks. Today, this is solved either by vendor-specific implementations that create lock-ins, or with complex and non-standard implementations.
Now, we are introducing RAN Observability to collect, adapt, monitor, and analyze RAN Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) from the RAN elements with Azure Private 5G Core online dashboards. This provides our solution partners and enterprise customers with combined observability, network insights, and analytics capability for the complete private 4G/5G network from a single portal, simplifying multi-vendor, multi-site deployments.
We invite RAN vendors to the Azure private MEC ecosystem to conduct 3GPP functional inter-operability, to onboard network management software on Azure, and to integrate metrics to simplify the deployment and management of private networks by enterprises.
ISV program for Azure private MEC
The launch of the ISV Program for Azure private MEC gives enterprises access to a robust ecosystem of validated full-stack solutions, to unlock the value of their private 5G investments, and accelerate time-to-value. With this access, enterprises can quickly deploy validated low-latency and high-reliability ISV solutions that leverage 4G/5G networks and edge compute.
The program helps ISVs to accelerate the development of modern connected applications, as well as time-to-market. ISVs get technical guidance on best practices for integrating solutions with Azure private MEC, including testing and validation in the Azure private MEC ISV Lab.
Several innovative ISV solutions with a wide range of use cases that include robotics, Video AI, and IoT serving in different industries, have adopted Azure private MEC. Their solutions are available today on Azure Marketplace.
Watch this video to learn more about the ISV program.
Private MEC partner solution offers
Our telco partners-including AT&T, British Telcom, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, STC, Tampnet, and Telefonica-offer private MEC solutions for their enterprise customers. The following SI and ISV partners are creating innovative Azure private MEC solutions, published on Azure Marketplace, to serve enterprises across multiple industries:
- Accenture’s Manufacturing Quality Inspection on 5G Cloud Box delivers high-speed, flexible connectivity to high-definition wireless cameras, detecting in real-time any product defect on the production line.
- Capgemini’s Computer Vision uses object recognition, crowd mobility analysis, and facial recognition to process real-time, mission-critical data necessary for operational insights.
- Cognitiwe’s Health and Safety Monitoring provides in-line quality control, stock monitoring, and health and safety monitoring for manufacturers with real-time and predictive analysis.
- Cognizant’s Vision AI for Worker Health & Safety enhances workforce safety by identifying when workers enter a hazardous work-zone and whereby taking proactive actions to protect workers from injury.
- ILink Digital’s built MIDAS, is a vision platform using AI and machine learning to perform real-time video processing and analytics for quick actions/triggers for object classification, object detection, or pattern matching on a real-time video that can be used for a wide variety of use cases to deliver revenue growth, operational efficiency, and process insights.
- Inventec’s factories with latency-sensitive edge AI and IoT applications such as Automated Optical Inspection, remote collaboration, image recognition, Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR), and Digital Twins.
- RedViking’s Argonaut Industry 4.0 solution enables risk reduction and resilient operations through machine-to-machine communications, automated data traceability, and real-time decision-making features with 5G connected AGV systems.
- Tech Mahindra’s private 5G solutions includes an AI-based video analytics solution to derive insights into factors causing variations in step and cycle times, as well as AR headsets to enable remote expert assist and training to line workers on a real-time basis.
- TCS’s Cognitive Plant Operations Adviser helps to make plant operations more predictive, prescriptive, and self-aware with deep causal reasoning that reduces operations and maintenance costs, improves product quality, reduces emissions, increases throughput, and makes production lines more agile and safe.
- weavix, the Internet of Workers platform, is a single source of truth that allows facility owners, manufacturers, and general contractors to realize the future of work.
Transportation and critical infrastructure
- Amdocs’ Smart Lighting for Smart Cities delivers not only smart, efficient lighting services but also public/private internet access capabilities and real-time environmental and movement data for municipal analytical insights.
- Avanade’s Private 5G-Enabled Utilities – Worker Safety Solution delivers connectivity, push-to-talk, and location tracking of utility workers across field sites.
- Datwyler and Rhomberg Sersa Group have joined forces to develop the Q-tainer, a mobile data center that provides easy plug and play, state-of-the-art connectivity for edge computing within the construction industry.
- HARMAN’s Real Time Cargo Tracking Solution is deployed at airports for tracking cargo movements from planes to warehouses to enable faster plane turnaround times and reduction in lost cargo
- HCL’s 5G-Enabled Airports delivers innovative solution like Airport Ambulance Tracking to automate medical assistance and Water Uplifting to reduce airplane turnaround times that are impacted by delivery of high-quality water for roaming portable water trucks.
- Ipsotek’s VI Suite of products provides edge-based AI and machine learning video analytics solutions for applications from intrusion detection, high-accuracy people counting, traffic analysis, and business intelligence for object tracking.
- NTT AG’s Smart Airport solution is helping airports to digitally transform their operations, including baggage handling, passenger screening, and data transfer.
- Tech Mahindra’s ContainerSight and DockSight video analytics solutions provide real-time visibility with data-driven decision making to reduce shipping container transport costs and optimize the use of trucking containers.
- Sensing Feeling’s SensorMAXTM Edge helps owners and operators of real-world spaces better manage the risks, safety, and well-being of people who work in them and the assets they work with.
Retail and Entertainment
- Cognitiwe’s Fresh Food Monitoring enables retailers to gain real-time insights and data-driven predictions to help retailers become more sustainable and ensures that products are always fresh and of the highest quality, while reducing the risk of fraud and shrinkage.
- HCL 5G-Enabled Theme Park delivers an immersive guest experience comprising of a multi-drone light show performance; 5G-Enabled Casino uses real time video analytics to identify malicious behavior in order to maintain a safe environment for its players.
- Neal Analytics, a Fractal company, accelerates retailers’ data-driven business transformation with proven edge-to-cloud, engineering, and AI expertise, showcased in their StockView solutions.
Private 5G connectivity
- Accenture: 5G Cloud Box
- British Telecom: Private 5G Networks
- Capgemini: 5G Private Networks
- Cognizant: Private 5G Network Solution
- Compal: Private 5G sub6 and mmWave
- HCL: Private 5G Consultancy Service
- Infosys: Enterprise Private 5G-as-a-Service
- Inventec: 5G Private Network Solution
- NTT: P5G Private Wireless for Enterprise
- Pegatron: 5G Private Network
- Tech Mahindra: Private 5G Wireless Network
Learn more about Azure private MEC
It’s easy to get started with Azure private MEC.
As innovative use cases for private wireless networks continue to develop and digital transformation accelerates across many industries, we welcome ISVs, platform partners, operators, and SIs to learn more about Azure private MEC.
Enterprises interested in any of the solutions listed above can contact our partners via the Azure Marketplace listings, or by contacting the Azure private MEC team.
Operators, SIs, and networking and application ISVs interested in partnering with Microsoft to build solutions with private MEC can get started by registering here.
To learn more about how Microsoft can help organizations embrace 5G with modern connected applications, sign up for news and updates.