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Singtel adds Azure Edge Zones to MEC platform

Azure customers will be able to leverage existing Azure subscriptions in Singtel’s new MEC offering and use the Azure portal to deploy 5G applications at the edge

Singtel is expanding its multi-access edge computing (MEC) platform with support for Microsoft Azure Edge Zones that the telco will integrate with its 5G network later this year.

When ready in the second half of 2022, the new offering will enable developers to deploy and manage mission-critical applications that require high throughput and low latency at the edge.

The addition comes a year after Singtel started trialling its MEC platform with Azure Stack, Microsoft’s family of on-premise systems that enables enterprises to use Azure cloud services at remote branch offices and edge locations.

Computer Weekly understands that while Azure Stack on Singtel MEC is a single tenant solution that requires investments in hardware from Azure Stack hardware suppliers such as Dell-EMC and HPE, Azure Edge Zones is a multi-tenant service where enterprises only pay for the amount of compute and storage they use, and for the duration of use.

Azure customers will be able to leverage their existing Azure subscriptions for Singtel’s new MEC offering, and use the Azure portal to develop, test and deploy 5G applications such as autonomous vehicles, drones, robotics, and virtual, augmented or mixed reality, at the edge of Singtel’s 5G network.

Hailing Singtel’s collaboration with Microsoft as a key milestone, Singtel CEO Bill Chang said the telco is looking to help enterprises leverage 5G’s potential, noting that the new Azure offering will let organisations harness 5G and MEC in business operations and drive the development of new solutions.

Yousef Khalidi, Microsoft’s corporate vice-president of Azure for Operators, singled out public sector and healthcare as sectors that will benefit from the integration of Azure compute services with Singtel’s 5G network.

Read more about 5G in APAC

Singtel is counting on its investments in its MEC platform to stand out in the enterprise market for 5G services, as deployment of the next-generation mobile network ramps up in Singapore and across the region.

Also known as the telco edge, MEC typically integrates 5G’s ultra-low latency and high bandwidth capabilities with hybrid cloud capabilities provided by hyperscale cloud suppliers.

Dennis Wong, vice-president for 5G enterprise and cloud at Singtel, told Computer Weekly last year that because Singtel’s MEC platform is connected to its mobile core network, enterprises can expect consistent service levels as opposed to connecting to public cloud services through the internet, where latency performance may vary.

Besides Microsoft, Singtel has also teamed up with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to support AWS Outposts on its MEC platform. Singtel can also deploy the platform with AWS Outposts at customer locations for workloads involving confidential data.

Singtel’s MEC platform is being used in 5G trials on the island of Sentosa, where an autonomous vehicle for road-sweeping and mixed reality, among other applications, are being tested. Local security firm Aetos is also deploying the platform to power surveillance robots, drones and video analytics applications at its security command centre.

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