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Nokia beefs up Microsoft partnership to enhance mission-critical industrial edge performance

Comms tech provider forges partnership with cloud provider to enhance the performance of critical use cases pairing 5G private wireless, offering enterprises more options to tap into Azure for their OT environments

This year, enterprises, especially those in manufacturing, have made steady progress in adopting private 5G networks integrated with the cloud. Tapping into this trend, Nokia has revealed plans to integrate Microsoft Azure Arc capabilities into the Nokia MX Industrial Edge (MXIE) platform.

Through this integration, Nokia says its MXIE and private wireless solution customers will have what it calls “seamless” access to the full Azure ecosystem offering on the platform, unlocking the potential of mission-critical applications for Industry 4.0 use cases.

To accelerate enterprises’ journey to Industry 4.0, in October 2021, Nokia launched a cloud-native, mission-critical industrial edge product to enable such businesses to advance operational technology (OT) digitisation initiatives. Explaining the product’s development, Nokia said Industry 4.0 required widespread digitisation and connectivity of equipment, machines and other assets in industrial environments.

Because of the volume and velocity of data generated and the need for real-time automation, data increasingly needs to be processed at the edge – close to where it is generated, said the firm. By 2025, market analysts predict that as much as three-quarters of industrial data will be processed at the edge.

The Nokia MXIE is a described as a future-ready, high-capacity and highly resilient as-a-service OT on-premise edge system that accelerates the digital transformation of OT, and is powered with 4.9/LTE and 5G connectivity provided by the Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC).

Microsoft Azure Arc is designed to offer enterprises a way to deploy and manage Azure applications on-premise with multicloud resources, such as virtual or physical servers and Kubernetes clusters. It is also said to be able to simplify governance and management by delivering a consistent multicloud and on-premise management platform.

The partnership will aim to support industries including automotive, manufacturing, energy, logistics and government, and the technology combination will set out to enable use cases by allowing customers to run applications in the traditional cloud, as well as directly on their premises. The partners believe collaboration in these areas will provide numerous benefits, such as increasing worker safety through artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, while decreasing the amount of needed backhaul with local data processing.

Nokia said Microsoft Azure Arc running on MXIE will give enterprises extended access to Azure capabilities while benefiting from private wireless connected assets’ real-time data and on-premise, highly-resilient, OT-centric edge processing.

“We have built a leadership position with our private wireless networks solution and MX Industrial Edge platform in large part by working with our valued partners,” said Nokia Enterprise Solutions vice president Stephan Litjens. “Our extended collaboration with Microsoft will enable and enhance the performance of Industry 4.0 mission-critical applications, allowing our customers to tap into Microsoft Azure Arc in the cloud and on the customer premises’ edge.”

Keith Sutton, CTO, telco service Line at Microsoft, added: “Nokia is an established leader in fully integrated industrial edge and private wireless solutions to provide features and automated management tools that accelerate OT digitisation. With Microsoft Azure Arc, a wide ecosystem of applications, and our longstanding work with Nokia, we can provide AI-powered insights and identify solutions to workflow issues for mission-critical Industry 4.0 applications running at the edge.”

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