A Lab for Testing the Benefits of Edge Computing on a 5G Network

In partnership with Google Cloud, Orange 5G Lab is opening its doors to companies, publishers and app developers who want to explore the potential of edge computing. The goal is to assess this technology with a view to developing the use cases of tomorrow.

Edge computing is a decentralized cloud computing model that brings data processing and storage closer to the users and machines that produce and/or consume it. Gone are the days where data must travel across the network to a centralized data center. Now, data can be processed locally, meeting the requirements of emerging use cases thanks to faster response times (in milliseconds), increased capacity for processing large volumes of data without saturating the network, the option of heightened security for sensitive and personal data, and strengthened business resilience, with no disruption in case of problems connecting to the “central” cloud.

These benefits are of interest to a range of stakeholders, from the B2B sector (industry, commerce, smart cities and healthcare) to the consumer market (smartphones, connected homes, online gaming, and virtual and augmented reality applications). Edge computing provides these stakeholders with real-time services that require guaranteed quality of service: control of robots, autonomous vehicles and drones; real-time video analysis and facial recognition for video surveillance or fire detection; real-time production quality analysis in industry; or, in the future, telemedicine and telesurgery.

A Clear Synergy with 5G

The 5G network is expected to support the deployment of these services, thanks to its lower latency and improved data throughput speeds. These benefits are maximized when 5G is paired with edge computing, since local processing means nothing is transmitted through the Internet or the cloud. By favoring this way of processing, edge computing reduces the number of intermediaries involved in the data “journey” while enabling applications to function optimally. For example, in the events industry, harnessing this 5G/edge computing synergy will enrich the audience’s experience by allowing shows to be filmed in 360° and broadcast in real time.

Tailor-Made Distributed Architecture Solutions

How is this technology implemented? “Processing capabilities can be hosted in the same place as the data is produced (in a factory or warehouse, for example) with the data sources connected directly via wired LAN, Wi-Fi or private cellular network. This is what is known as ‘customer edge computing,’” explains Nathalie Ghinsberg, Operational Manager of the Innovation Future Connectivity Business Portfolio at Orange Innovation. “These capabilities can also be hosted at the core of the carrier network, in the carrier nodes that are located throughout the region. In this case, we’re referring to ‘network edge computing.’” This solution is ideal for users who cannot set up a dedicated infrastructure on their website, or even for consumer use cases such as online gaming or virtual or augmented reality applications.

Green Light for Testing 

Orange has signed a partnership agreement with Google Cloud on data, AI, cloud and edge computing. Against this backdrop, on September 22, the two partners unveiled the first Edge Computing Lab. The lab welcomes businesses and developers who wish to implement and carry out end-to-end testing on services hosted at the edge, using the Google Cloud solution and capitalizing on Orange’s top-class 5G network. The goal is clear: to support the edge computing ecosystem as it matures and to encourage uptake of this technology through real-world testing, while helping to grow the range of use cases.

The lab, located on the Orange innovation campus in Châtillon, near Paris, boasts a 5G network and an edge computing node supported by the Google Cloud solution. Made up of multiple microprocessors and graphics cards to provide computing power, this mini data center can host third-party applications and make them accessible from the on-site 5G terminals. Any interested developers and companies can request access to the lab. Priority will logically be given to projects with large data volumes to process, low-latency requirements or enhanced security needs.

Gwenaëlle Delsart, Program Director of the Edge Computing – Smart Content Delivery Program at Orange Innovation, says that “This Lab is not the end goal in itself. This is just a first step before supporting these companies through pilots and on to commercial offers.”

Flexibility, Security and Environmental Impact

“Although current testing is carried out using a single node, we will deploy other nodes in the technology commercialization phase in order to fully meet our customers’ expectations,” adds Delsart.

In the case of network edge computing, this flexibility enables infrastructures to be shared by multiple customers while maintaining advanced data security and watertight separation between environments. This sharing is also seen in resource and cost optimization. Lastly, since limiting environmental impact is a critical issue in network development and in mass data flows, edge computing is set to scale back energy consumption to meet real needs.

Learn more about Orange 5G Lab: https://5glab.orange.com/en/

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