Demystifying the 5G Edge

This blog is co-authored by Jason Inskeep, Associate Vice President of 5G & Private 5G Center of Excellence at AT&T and Stephen Spellicy, Vice President, Marketing, Business Development and Sales Enablement, Service Provider Business Unit VMware.

5G has been called the “enterprise G” and with good reason. The increased bandwidth, high reliability, low latency and cost efficiencies that 5G provides are critical for the next generation of business use cases such as automated guided vehicles, IoT sensors, warehouse and factory robots and augmented reality experiences. Many of these use cases also require real-time data collection and processing, resulting in a heightened emphasis on multi-access edge computing (MEC). Edge solutions bring business applications closer to where the data is processed to deliver real-time responsiveness while conserving network bandwidth, adding security and reducing costs. There has been a ton of industry discussion about what these technologies can deliver. Today, AT&T, Dell Technologies and VMware are announcing they have teamed to deliver a carrier-grade edge solution for enterprises that delivers valuable business outcomes.

The AT&T MEC with Dell APEX solution delivers application-ready edge infrastructure on-premises, as needed. With the click of a button, enterprises can order more Dell edge processing to be delivered and implemented in weeks, not months. This “edge-as-a-Service” model enables innovation by allowing enterprises to try out new 5G edge services without making heavy capital investments.

Think of 5G edge as a convergence of two transformational technologies: 5G connectivity and edge computing infrastructure. On closer inspection, there are several additional innovations at work that have helped to create the 5G edge opportunity, including the expansion of available licensed spectrum (including mmWave), hybrid cloud computing and software-defined networking. Taken together, these transformative technologies help allow enterprises to do things they could only dream of before. The best use cases for 5G edge technology are right in front of us, and it’s important that enterprises act today to make their edge strategy a reality.

Complexity as the Double-edged Blade

Pun intended. 5G and edge technologies are different from the way enterprise IT departments have solved connectivity and computing problems in the past, and therein lies the challenge. Wi-Fi networking, the standard for most wireless enterprises, is more or less a plug-and-play technology using unlicensed spectrum. 5G using licensed spectrum with cellular technology offers important advantages over Wi-Fi – more inherent stability, more predictable latencies, higher reliability and greater range with fewer access points – but it also requires a unique set of skills to set up and manage. Similarly, MEC solutions have their own set of complexities around deployment, security, scalability and cloud application integration. Enterprises may have some of the skill sets needed to manage 5G edge solutions, but they rarely have all the skill sets required to manage both connectivity and compute.

At a high level and in general, the challenges of implementing and managing a 5G edge solution can be boiled down to security, skills, speed and cost. Edge locations represent a new ingress/egress point in the wide area network and need to be secured both to protect the network and to meet compliance and privacy requirements. As 5G technology evolves, the enterprise can transform the network and skills to implement and manage their optimal 5G network. Real-time processing and decisioning at the edge require powerful on-premises capabilities, fast and reliable connectivity and the ability to quickly tap into local processing or remote cloud capabilities when needed. And finally, enterprises must be able to control the cost of edge services by reducing backhaul requirements and right sizing their infrastructure to suit shifting needs.

Simplifying 5G Edge Deployments with AT&T MEC with Dell APEX

There’s a lot to consider when building out a mobile-enabled edge solution. You have the edge infrastructure itself, which may exist purely on-prem or in a hybrid private/public cloud configuration, secure network connectivity, the application stack, the management interface and access to analytics, which may include AI or machine learning tools. Integrating those components is a challenge for even the largest enterprises. To accelerate the enterprise adoption of 5G technology and its benefits, AT&T, Dell Technologies and VMware have combined their expertise in 5G communications and edge infrastructure to create a single, efficient, end-to-end 5G MEC solution. Together, we are not just talking about it, we are doing it.

AT&T, Dell Technologies and VMware have considered the key components customers need in bringing this solution to market: 5G connectivity, infrastructure-as-a-service, multicloud support including built-in migration for workloads running on VMware, a simplified management interface via Dell APEX Console, and services and support from Dell Technologies and AT&T – all within an on-premises MEC private cellular network from AT&T. The solution helps remove the barriers to 5G edge innovation. How do I build it? We’ve built it for you. How do I connect and protect it? We’ve built in connectivity and protection. How do I scale it? With the click of a button. How do I manage it? Control as much or as little as you want, from full control to a completely managed service. It’s applicable to many different verticals such as manufacturing, oil and gas, utilities, healthcare and more.

We’ve done more than demystify 5G for enterprises; we deliver it in a complete solution, wrapped up with a blue bow. To learn more about the solution, contact us.