A private 5G edge computing offering from Verizon and Microsoft, in the works since last year, is now available to business customers. The offering, known as Verizon 5G Edge with Microsoft Azure Stack Edge, is a “cloud computing platform that brings compute and storage services to the edge of the network at the customer premises,” Verizon explained in a press release.
Moving cloud resources closer to the customer minimizes latency, a critical requirement for computer vision, augmented and virtual reality, machine learning, and other applications. The 5G networks that Verizon and other carriers are deploying are designed to have very low latency, and mobile edge computing can be seen as a means of enabling the cloud to match that low latency.
Putting cloud computing resources at the customer premises should support the lowest possible latency, while also enhancing security. And as one Verizon executive told Telecompetitor last year, the devices that support edge computing can be quite small if software defined network is used, so it’s relatively easy to deploy those devices at the customer premises.
Today’s press release about Verizon private 5G edge computing suggests that the offering is likely to be deployed in tandem with On Site 5G, the private 5G offering that Verizon launched earlier this year. The combination of On Site 5G and private edge computing, in theory at least, should offer the lowest possible latency and the highest level of security.
Private Edge Use Cases
One of the first businesses to use the private edge computing offering from Verizon and Microsoft is Ice Mobility, which provides supply chain services to Verizon and its retailers. Ice Mobility has been using the Verizon offering for about a year now and its experiences illustrate how other businesses might use private edge computing.
As Ice Mobility CEO Mike Mohr explains in a Verizon Business video, Ice Mobility has been able to use high-definition cameras, in combination with 5G and private edge computing, to essentially eliminate the quality control step that previously consumed time and resources. A high-definition camera observes each employee as the employee packs orders and can identify the products packed by part number. That information is then matched with the customer’s order to verify whether the order is being correctly packed, eliminating the need for a second employee to review each package before shipping.
The edge computing application “knows the entire journey” that an item takes through the facility and “literally eliminates the quality control step,” Mohr explains.
Mohr added that Ice Mobility sees opportunities to use the same high-definition cameras for security, social distancing, contact tracing and other opportunities.
The company has “a long list of opportunities created by this technology,” he observes.
Verizon isn’t alone in pursuing private edge computing opportunities. AT&T also has an on-premise multi-access edge compute (MEC) offering.