Microsoft Makes Run at 5G, Edge Computing with Azure Edge Zones

Microsoft is promising to enable new edge computing scenarios for partners and developers with Azure Edge Zones, which became available as a preview this week.

Microsoft touts Azure Edge Zones as "a family" of services within its Azure cloud. Azure Edge Zones "enables data processing close to the user," according to Microsoft's documentation. "You can deploy VMs, containers, and other select Azure services into Edge Zones to address the low latency and high throughput requirements of applications."

To enable those new scenarios, Azure Edge Zones combines the capabilities of Azure, 5G, technology partners and mobile carriers. Together, they will allow for:

  • New frontiers for developers working with high-density graphics and real-time operations in industries such as gaming and mobile platforms.
  • Local data processing for secure workloads, latency-sensitive data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and media services.
  • Real-time IoT and artificial intelligence (AI) analytics for optimizing, building and innovating for robotics, mixed reality and automation tools.

Azure Edge Zones actually comes in three different offerings. Azure Edge Zones are small-footprint extensions of Azure located in population centers distant from Azure regions. Azure Edge Zones with Carrier are located in mobile operators' datacenters in population centers. Azure Private Edge Zones are located on-premises.

One use case scenario sees developers building optimized and scalable applications using Azure and directly connecting to 5G networks by building upon previously announced integration with AT&T to enable next-generation solutions on the edge, leveraging consistent Azure APIs and tooling in the public cloud.

"We were the first public cloud to announce 5G integration with AT&T in Dallas in 2019, and now we're announcing a close collaboration with AT&T on a new Edge Zone targeted to become available in Los Angeles in late spring," said Azure Networking exec Yousef Khalidi in a March 31 blog post.

The first edge zones will be available in June, Microsoft said. Anyone wishing to join the Azure Private Edge Zone preview can go here.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.