As the cloud continues to expand into a ubiquitous and highly distributed fabric, a new breed of application is emerging: Modern Connected Applications. We define these new offerings as network-smart applications at the edge powered by 5G and enabled by programmable interfaces that grant developers access to network resources. Together with the Internet of Things (IoT) and real-time AI, 5G enables this new app paradigm, opening up new services and business models for companies while accelerating their network and IT transformation.
at Mobile World Congress this yearMicrosoft announced a significant step to help companies on this journey: Azure Private 5G Coreavailable as part of Azure Private Multi-Access Edge Compute (MEC) solution. Azure Private 5G Core enables operators and system integrators (SIs) to easily, scalably, and securely deploy private 4G and 5G networks in a small footprint infrastructure at the enterprise edge.
This blog goes a little deeper into the basics of the service and highlights some extensions that businesses can use to gain more visibility and control over their private network. It also includes a use case for early deployment Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS) on an edge platform leveraged by the Azure Private 5G Core to rapidly deploy such networks.
Building simple, scalable and secure private networks
Azure Private 5G Core greatly simplifies the deployment and operation of private networks. With just a few clicks, enterprises can deploy a custom set of selectable 5G core capabilities, Radio Access Network (RAN) and applications on a small edge computing platform in thousands of locations. Built-in automation deploys security patches, ensures compliance, and runs audits and reports. Businesses benefit from a consistent management experience and an improved Service Assurance experience, with all logs and metrics from cloud to edge available for viewing in Azure dashboards.
Businesses need the highest level of security to connect their mission-critical operations. Azure Private 5G Core makes this possible through native integration with a wide range of Azure capabilities. With Azure Archwe offer seamless and secure connectivity from a local edge platform to the Azure cloud. Azure Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) allows administrators to create policies and define permissions that allow an application access to all the resources it needs. Likewise, users can be granted the appropriate access to manage all resources in a resource group, e.g. B. virtual machines, websites and subnets. Our zero trust Security frameworks are built into the cloud by devices to protect users and data. And our full-stack solution (hardware, host and guest OS, hypervisor, AKS, packet core, IoT Edge runtime for applications, and more) meets standard Azure privacy and compliance benchmarks in the cloud and at the enterprise edge , which means that data protection requirements are met in each geographic region.
Deploy private 5G networks in minutes
Microsoft partner inventor is a leading design maker of enterprise-class technology solutions such as laptops, servers and wireless communication products. The company quickly saw the potential benefit of converting its own world-class manufacturing facilities into 5G intelligent factories to fully harness the power of AI and IoT.
As a compelling example of rapid deployment of private 5G networks, Inventec recently installed our Azure Private MEC solution in its smart factory in Taiwan. It took just 56 minutes to fully deploy the Azure Private 5G Core and connect it to 5G access points serving multiple 5G endpoints – a significant reduction from the months companies expect. Use of Azure Private 5G Core Azure Arch and Azure Kubernetes Service on-premises to provide security and manageability across the core network stack. Figures 1 and 2 below show snapshots from the study.
Figure 1: Screenshot of logs with timestamps showing start and finish of core network deployment.
Figure 2: Screenshot from the trial showing an access point successfully connected to seven endpoints.
Inventec develops applications for manufacturing use cases that leverage private 5G networks and Microsoft’s Azure Private 5G Core. Examples of these high-value MEC use cases include automated optical inspection (AOI), face recognition, and security surveillance systems.
Extending enterprise control and visibility across the 5G core
Tightly integrating with other elements of the Azure Private MEC solution, our Azure Private 5G Core essentially acts as an enterprise “point of control” for private wireless networks. Through rich APIs, the Azure Private 5G Core can extend visibility into the performance of connected network elements, simplify the deployment of Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs) for end devices, secure private wireless deployments, and 5G connectivity between cloud services (like IoT Hub) and associated on-premises devices.
Figure 3: Azure Private 5G Core is a central point of control for private wireless networks.
Today, customers, developers and partners benefit from a number of early integrations with Azure and third-party services, including:
- Plug and Play RAN: Azure Private MEC offers a choice of 4G or 5G Standalone Radio Access Network (RAN) partners that integrate directly with the Azure Private 5G Core. By integrating RAN monitoring with the Azure Private 5G Core, RAN performance can be made visible through the Azure management portal. Our RAN partners also integrate their Element Management System (EMS) and Service Management and Orchestrator (SMO) products on Azure, simplifying the deployment processes and having a framework for closed-loop radio performance automation.
- Edge managed by Azure Arc: The Azure Private 5G Core leverages the security and reliability capabilities of the Azure Arc-enabled Azure Kubernetes Service running on Azure Stack Edge Pro. These include policy definitions with Azure Policy for Kubernetes, simplified access to AKS clusters for high availability with Cluster Connect, and fine-grained identity and access management with Azure RBAC.
- Device and profile management: Azure Private 5G Core APIs integrate with SIM management services to securely provision 5G devices with appropriate profiles. Additionally, integration with Azure IoT Hub enables unified management of all connected IoT devices across the enterprise and provides a messaging hub for IoT telemetry.
- Localized ISV MEC applications: Low-latency MEC applications benefit from running alongside core network functions on the common edge computing platform (Azure Private MEC). Tight integration with the Azure Private 5G Core using Azure Resource Manager APIs allows third-party applications to configure network resources and devices. Partner-offered applications are available and can be deployed on the Azure Marketplace.
Getting started with Azure Private MEC is easy
As innovative use cases for private wireless networks continue to evolve and Industry 4.0 transformation accelerates, we invite ISVs, platform partners, operators, and SIs to learn more Private Azure MEC.
- Application ISVs interested in deploying their line-of-business or horizontal solutions on Azure should start onboarding their applications Azure Marketplace.
- Platform partners, operators, and SIs interested in partnering with Microsoft to provide or integrate with private MEC can get started Contact Azure’s private MEC team.
Microsoft is committed to helping companies innovate from the cloud to the edge to space – providing a platform and ecosystem strong enough to support the vision and tremendous potential of 5G. As the cloud continues to expand and a new generation of modern connected applications emerge at the edge, the opportunities for business growth and transformation will be profound. learn more about how Microsoft is helping developers adopt 5G.