Verizon and AWS team on private MEC to bring enterprises an edge

Partnership forged to allow enterprises to deploy a dedicated, private edge compute platform fully integrated with AWS cloud services and Verizon 5G private networks to improve productivity, safety and operational efficiencies

Building on a partnership initiated in 2020 to offer US enterprise customers private mobile edge computing – or multi-access edge computing (MEC) – with a dedicated infrastructure on-premise that enables ultra-low latency, higher levels of security and deeper customisation, Verizon Business and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are to expand their 5G collaboration.

The Verizon and AWS edge computing collaboration began with the launch of Verizon 5G Edge with AWS Wavelength. AWS Wavelength extends AWS compute and storage services to the edge of Verizon’s public mobile network and provides access to cloud services running in an AWS region, thereby minimising the latency and network hops required to connect from a 5G device to an application hosted on AWS.

In August 2020, the companies announced the general availability of 5G mobile edge computing via Wavelength Zones in 10 cities across the US.

The latest move will see the creation of technology that will fully integrate Verizon’s private 5G networks and private 5G Edge platform with AWS Outposts, a fully managed service that is said to offer the same AWS infrastructure, services, application programming interfaces (APIs) and tools to virtually any datacentre, colocation space or on-premise facility for a consistent hybrid experience.

MEC running on private networks can create a secure, dedicated computing platform in specific areas such as factories, warehouses and large business campuses. The platform supports unified connectivity, compute and storage, without the need for the customer to own extensive networking and IT infrastructure. It is engineered to support a wide range of industrial manufacturing applications, such as autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), predictive maintenance, quality assurance, and near-real-time monitoring and hazard alerts.

In addition to connecting to AWS services, APIs and tools running on AWS Outposts, Verizon’s private 5G Edge platform will also link directly to two smaller AWS Outposts – in 1U and 2U form factors – to give customers options to deploy AWS on-premise in space-constrained locations. The comms provider said private MEC could be used to deploy quickly real-time enterprise applications such as intelligent logistics, predictive maintenance, robotics and factory automation to reduce costs and improve safety, precision and efficiency.

Corning Incorporated, a leading materials science and advanced manufacturing innovator, will be the first company to use the private MEC. It is exploring the benefits of 5G and private MEC in Hickory, North Carolina, at one of the largest fibre-optic cable manufacturing facilities in the world. Corning and Verizon are working with Gestalt Robotics, a service provider for intelligent industrial automation, to run highly scalable edge services on AWS Outposts that provide autonomous navigation and advanced environmental sensing “as a service”.

Gestalt Robotics’ solutions make use of computer vision and machine learning models to process sensor data received from autonomous mobile robots, then send commands to the AMRs over the ultra-low latency, high-throughput 5G private network. The service can reduce the need for computing hardware and battery capacity on the AMRs and enable near real-time interaction and closed-loop control of the vehicles, delivering high-reliability production services within the factory.

“We’re living through one of the greatest communications evolutions in history – and at the centre of it all are optical networks. At Corning, our vision is to accelerate the ways in which innovation improves people’s lives and brings the world closer together, which includes partnering with industry leaders such as Verizon and AWS to make the promise of 5G a reality,” said Michael Bell, senior vice-president and general manager of Corning Optical Communications.

“We believe 5G will revolutionise the way people and companies interact with technology, and we’re excited to advance these developments in our own plant, where we manufacture the optical cable needed to support the networks,” he added. “Now, with Verizon’s 5G network and mobile edge computing solution using AWS Outposts, we’re leveraging technologies like autonomous mobile robots to demonstrate how manufacturers can increase efficiency.”

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