This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: New blog articles in Microsoft Community Hub.
Three trends in distributed computing are converging. First, the number of places where applications can run has grown to include the cloud, public and private edges, and on-device. Second, distributed applications increasingly span these compute targets simultaneously, with placement decisions based on cost, location, and performance requiring continuous evaluation. Third, the networks connecting these compute targets are increasingly programmable, allowing applications to query and dynamically configure network conditions and behavior via APIs.
Azure offers excellent support for deploying and managing applications across the full diversity of today’s compute targets. At Mobile World Congress 2023, we are announcing a limited, private preview program for Azure Programmable Connectivity (APC) to support network-aware applications that span compute targets and program the networks in between. APC provides a unified abstraction layer for accessing network APIs—such as edge discovery, quality on demand, and device location—consistently across operators and connectivity methods. At the same time, APC allows operators to offer differentiated and standards-compliant APIs to Azure developers while ensuring that APC code will run seamlessly on any supported network in the world.
Vision for network-aware applications
Developers can improve the performance and reliability of their network-aware applications through five key capabilities.
- Optimal endpoint discovery: Use information about network conditions between clients and servers to dispatch clients to the correct endpoint, whether on the edge or in the cloud.
- Network quality of service: Ask a network to improve conditions between a client and server when conditions degrade.
- Device localization: Ask the network for information about a client’s current location.
- Workload mobility: As network conditions change, move a client’s workload to a better endpoint.
- Adaptive cloud usage: As network conditions change, adjust the mix of computations performed on the edge and in the edge.
Each capability requires calling network APIs to learn network conditions or configure network behavior. When a network-aware application scales, it will need to run on multiple networks, and a crucial requirement for developers is a simple and uniform programming interface across each of these networks.
We envision APC becoming the best place for developers to access network APIs and operators to distribute their APIs by resolving these competing requirements. Our approach to APC is guided by three design principles:
- Network-agnostic programming abstractions: APC code should run on any supported network.
- Network-specific adapters: APC should translate its simple abstractions into operator APIs and support “escape hatches” for operator differentiation.
- Azure-integrated billing and credentialing: APC should hide the complexity of billing and credentialing.
By embracing these principles, developers, operators, and Azure can collectively create a thriving ecosystem of network-aware applications and services.
We are already collaborating with a growing number of operators, network technology companies, and API platform providers to unlock the potential of Azure Programmable Connectivity. We have a global operator ecosystem, including AT&T, Rogers, and T-Mobile US in North America; Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica in Europe; and Singtel in Asia. Microsoft is also working with network technology partners and API platform providers such as Ericsson, including its Vonage/Ericsson Global Network Platform, and Nokia, including its Network as Code platform, with more partners coming soon. Further, Microsoft is a founding member of CAMARA—the Telco Global API Alliance—where it encourages seamless, harmonized access to network APIs across industries.
Private preview program
Technology partners that want to leverage 5G connectivity and Muti-Access Edge Compute (MEC) in Azure to provide solutions to problems that are latency sensitive are invited to participate in the APC private preview program. As a participant in this program, you will be able to take advantage of Microsoft’s existing relationships with 5G operators and gain access to technical benefits and Azure credits for testing your solution.
Developers can apply and signup for access to the private preview program here: https://aka.ms/apcpreview. Applications will be open from February 27, 2023 to May 31, 2023.