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Microsoft, Singtel debut Azure public MEC in Singapore

Azure public multi-access edge compute service will let enterprises deploy low-latency workloads and leverage public cloud services in edge locations

Microsoft and Singtel have unveiled the Azure public multi-access edge compute (MEC) service in Singapore, enabling organisations to run latency-sensitive workloads such as video streaming and real-time analytics on Singtel’s 5G network.

This marks the first time the service is available outside the US, where Microsoft has teamed up with AT&T on a video analytics offering that runs off an Azure public MEC site in Atlanta.

Azure public MEC is part of Microsoft’s Azure for Operators portfolio that brings cloud capabilities to telcos, enabling them to deploy edge cloud services and monetise their 5G investments, among other goals.

Speaking at the launch of Azure public MEC at Microsoft’s Experience Centre Asia in Singapore, Manoj Prasanna Kumar, head of technology for 5G and internet of things (IoT) at Singtel, said the new service completes Singtel’s Paragon portfolio that lets organisations deploy applications from the edge to cloud.

Singtel took the wraps off Paragon in 2022, pitching it as a software platform that makes it easier for enterprises to deploy applications across a hybrid cloud environment. Enterprises can use Paragon to deploy edge applications on-premise to process data onsite or on the Azure public cloud.

With the addition of Azure public MEC, Kumar said “enterprises will have the ability to use a single Paragon platform to deploy applications closer to their site in what we call the near edge, at the far edge, which is the public MEC, or on the public cloud”.

“And they can elastically migrate applications from one end to another, from their campus all the way to the cloud, or from their campus to the public MEC and vice versa,” he added.

By connecting Paragon with Azure Programmable Connectivity, developers will also be able to create and manage network-aware applications that require high throughput and low latency in a cost efficient and pay-as-you-go model.

Computer Weekly understands that the Azure public MEC sites will be adjacent to Singtel’s network exchanges in the city-state, providing low-latency, nationwide access to key Azure services such as Azure Kubernetes Service, Azure Virtual Machines and Azure Load Balancer.

Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice-president of Azure for Operators, noted that Singapore is on the forefront of innovation as its enterprises and public sector embrace new technologies such as 5G and artificial intelligence (AI).

“Our deep ecosystem collaboration with Singtel provides a unified compute solution from the cloud to the edge that will help organisations and developers build more Singapore-born innovation, as we empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more,” he said.

At the launch event, doctors from Singapore’s National University Health System (NUHS) showed how a surgeon donning a Microsoft HoloLens 2 augmented reality headset that leverages Singtel’s 5G network and Azure public MEC could project a 3D hologram of a patient’s liver for surgical planning and patient education.

The initiative is part of NUHS’s holomedicine research programme, through which the public healthcare group hopes to apply holographic technology in multiple fields of surgery, including keyhole and eye surgeries.

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