5G and Edge computing are two famous words that have established themselves along the digital transformation path, bringing the enormous potential to trigger the next great wave of change. As 5G increases connectivity speeds – by transmitting data 10 times faster than the connections we are used to – edge computing strives to get closer to the end-user or end device to reduce latency, thus forming a powerful duo that could eventually wholly replace traditional networks.
Forced by inter-staff distancing regulations, manufacturing companies have started looking for automation and remote control solutions to keep production lines running. Operational Technologies (OT) have also benefited from these trends, allowing employees to monitor and control their machines remotely. However, their reputation still penalizes OT solutions, which describes them as slow and hardly adaptable to change.
In the manufacturing industry, significant transformations are usually planned well in advance because safety plays a critical role in operations that concern the safe and uninterrupted operation of the machine park. But the technology to initiate change is already in the starting blocks, and it may be ready that there won’t be widespread 5G coverage.
How Does 5G Work With (Mobile) Edge Computing?
The cornerstones of modern connectivity are speed, real-time data transmission, and the density of the mobile network. The 5G data transmission standard will significantly speed up the networks of our mobile phones and allow us to transmit data at a much higher speed. Under ideal conditions, 5G will be able to share data 20 times faster than standard connections – providing the speed essential for augmented reality and virtual reality applications, to name just a few.
In these applications, the response time between the device and the image processing should not be more than 12-15 milliseconds; slower processing may cause the user to feel lost in orientation and dizzy in virtual reality. 5G technology isn’t just about speed. Availability and reliability are also critical components of the Industry 4.0 applications of the future.
In the present, ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC) and edge cloud are already essential for real-time applications and seamless communication with machines beyond traditional networks. Aside from the many other factors that come into play in 5G network design, physical proximity to the device is critical to achieving low latency. This means that the core network infrastructure, security infrastructure, and application server must be moved from centralized data centers to the edge, closer to the user.
Edge computing is now an essential prerequisite for many applications. Another big difference between 5G and 4G is the density of user transactions. While current 4G technology allows 4,000 users within one kilometer to be connected simultaneously, 5G can handle up to one million simultaneous connections.
It is precisely this density of transactions, opens the door to a whole new way of thinking – reversing traditional network infrastructure in ways that would never have been possible before. 5G provides a connectivity infrastructure for all devices without a network connection. By extension, this also means that security can no longer be provided through the network infrastructure.
Edge Security Comes From The Cloud
Zscaler’s cloud security platform is already equipped with the features you need to keep up with this change. Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange provides security at the edge and filters all user and machine traffic in the cloud, using a cloud-native infrastructure – which also allows it to be deployed in different locations, as close as possible to the end-user or the car. However, cloud technology has already reached a point where far-reaching expansion to the edge is needed.
And this is where 5G technology comes into play, which will allow companies to harness the full power of edge computing. The core of this power lies in mobile edge computing (MEC). At the edge, the data traffic generated when you browse a website, for example, is no longer routed through the telecommunications network to the internet and then back again but directly through cellular antennas near the mobile device.
This aspect – the exact location of data processing in mobile edge computing -When 5G and MEC eventually make traditional networks obsolete, cloud-based security will become a security enabler for Industry 4.0 and end customers.