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Verizon, Microsoft partner on 5G edge

The alliance connects Verizon's 5G Edge mobile edge computing platform with Microsoft's Azure Stack Edge cloud computing product. Verizon has a similar deal with AWS.

Verizon has added Microsoft Azure as a cloud partner in the carrier's 5G edge computing platform for retailers, manufacturers and other industries with applications that require ultra-low latency to mobile devices.

The alliance, announced this week, integrates the Verizon 5G Edge with the Microsoft Azure Stack Edge cloud computing platform. Verizon has provided similar product integration with Microsoft rival AWS since 2019.

Verizon's 5G Edge is a multi-access edge computing (MEC) platform that connects the carrier's network with Wavelength and Stack Edge. MEC assists edge computing environments in responding immediately to data received. The platform also reduces network bandwidth by transmitting only aggregate data to a central cloud infrastructure.

Microsoft and AWS deploy their respective technology in places where the carrier has its MEC service. The locations can include the carrier's facilities or an enterprise with Verizon's private 5G network, called On Site 5G.

Azure Stack Edge competes with AWS Wavelength. The combination of Verizon and the cloud application platforms provide single-digit millisecond latencies over a 5G network.

"[Business] customers should expect Verizon to continue to expand their public cloud partnerships as network performance continues to be a high priority for customers and a critical success factor for any public cloud deployment," IDC analyst Stephen Elliot said.

However, the cost of edge management will become a critical discussion between potential customers and Microsoft, AWS and Verizon, Elliot said. Managing the edge has to be part of an overall monitoring strategy based on a company's application requirements.

Azure Stack Edge is a 1U rack-mounted server that includes computing, storage and intelligence to analyze and provide insight on data collected from endpoint devices, including IoT and mobile.

Companies manage Stack Edge from the Azure cloud and use its field-programmable gate array to accelerate AI inferencing. IT staff can configure Stack Edge to send data to Azure.

Wavelength extends AWS compute and storage to the edge of Verizon's public mobile network. Wavelength reduces latency by minimizing the network hops needed to connect a 5G device to an application hosted on AWS.

Today, 5G Edge with Wavelength is available in more than a dozen metro areas, including Chicago, Dallas, New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area. Verizon did not release locations in which 5G Edge and Stack Edge are available.

According to Verizon, Ice Mobility, a provider of supply chain devices and services, has used 5G Edge with Stack Edge for computer vision to improve product packing. Computer vision uses AI and digital images from cameras and videos to identify and classify objects and react to what it sees, based on deep learning models.

Companies using the combined Verizon and AWS technology include Aetho, the maker of the Beame telepresence technology. Morehouse College plans to use Aetho's technology to create a 3D, interactive online version of the campus that prospective students can tour instead of physically going to the school.

Antone Gonsalves is news director for the Networking Media Group at TechTarget. He has deep and wide experience in tech journalism. Since the mid-1990s, he has worked for UBM's InformationWeek, TechWeb and Computer Reseller News. He has also written for Ziff Davis' PC Week, IDG's CSOonline and IBTMedia's CruxialCIO, and rounded all of that out by covering startups for Bloomberg News. He started his journalism career at United Press International, working as a reporter and editor in California, Texas, Kansas and Florida.

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