Swisscom, Ericsson and AWS collaborate on 5G SA Core for hybrid clouds

Swiss network operator Swisscom have announced a proof-of-concept (PoC) collaboration with  Ericsson 5G SA Core running on AWS.  The objective is to explore hybrid cloud use cases with AWS, beginning with 5G core applications.  The plan is for more applications to then gradually be added as the trial continues. With each cloud strategy (private, public, hybrid, multi) bringing its own drivers and challenges the idea here seems to be enabling the operator to take advantage of the specific characteristics of both hybrid and public cloud.

The PoC reconfirms Swisscom and Ericsson’s view of the potential hybrid cloud has as a complement to existing private cloud infrastructure. Both Swisscom and Ericsson are on a common journey with AWS to explore how use cases can benefit telecom operators.

The PoC will examine use cases that take advantage of the particular characteristics of hybrid and public cloud. In particular, the flexibility and elasticity it can offer to customers which can mean deployment efficiencies for use cases where capacity is not constantly needed. An example of this could be when maintenance activities are undertaken in Swisscom’s private cloud, or when there are traffic peaks, AWS can be used to offload and complement the private cloud.

Swisscom had already been collaborating with AWS on migrating its 5G infrastructure towards standalone 5G. In addition, it has also used the hyperscaler’s public cloud platform for its IT environments. Telco  concerns linger [1.] around the use of public cloud in telecoms infrastructure (especially the core networks) for some operators, hybrid cloud is seemingly gaining momentum as a transitional approach.

Note 1.  Telco concerns over public cloud:

  • In a recent survey by more than four in five industry respondents feared security concerns over running telco applications in the public cloud, including 37% who find it hard to make the business case for public cloud as private cloud remains vital in addressing security issues. This also means that any efficiency gains are offset by the IT environment and the network running over two cloud types.
  • Many in the industry also fear vendor lock-in and lack of orchestration from public cloud providers. Around a third of industry experts from the same survey find it a compelling reason not to embrace and move workloads to the public cloud unless applications can run on all versions of public cloud and are portable among cloud vendors.
  • There’s also a lack of interoperability and interconnectedness with public clouds.  The services of different public cloud vendors are indeed not interconnected nor interoperable for the same types of workloads. This concern is one of the drivers to avoid public cloud, according to some network operators.



Mark Düsener, Executive Vice President Mobile Network & Services at Swisscom, says: “By bringing the Ericsson 5G Core onto AWS we will substantially change the way our networks will be built and operated. The elasticity of the cloud in combination with a new magnitude in automatization will support us in delivering even better quality more efficiently over time. In order to shape this new concept, we as Swisscom believe strategic and deep partnerships like the ones we have with Ericsson and AWS are the key for success.”

Monica Zethzon, Head of Solution Area Core Networks, Ericsson says: “5G innovation requires deep collaboration to create the foundations necessary for new and evolving use cases. This Proof-of-Concept project with Swisscom and AWS is about opening up the routes to innovation by using hybrid cloud’s flexible combination of private and public cloud resources. It demonstrates that through partnership, we can deliver a hybrid cloud solution which meets strict telecoms industry requirements and security while making best use of HCP agility and cloud economy of scale.”

Fabio Cerone, General Manager AWS Telco EMEA at AWS, says: “With this move, Swisscom is opening the door to cloud native networks, delivering full automation and elasticity at scale, with the ability to innovate faster and make 5G impactful to their customers. We are committed to working closely with partners, such as Ericsson, to explore new use cases and strategies that best support the needs of customers like Swisscom.”

 “How to deploy software in different cloud environments – at a high level, it is hard making that work in practice,” said Per Narvinger, the head of Ericsson’s cloud software and services unit. “You have hyperscalers with their offering and groups trying to standardize and people trying to do it their own way. There needs to be harmonization of what is wanted.”


AWS Telco Network Builder: managed network automation service to deploy, run, and scale telco networks on AWS

Omdia and Ericsson on telco transitioning to cloud native network functions (CNFs) and 5G SA core networks



2 thoughts on “Swisscom, Ericsson and AWS collaborate on 5G SA Core for hybrid clouds

  1. From Light Reading:
    A new white paper (likely sponsored by Microsoft) written by Analysys Mason, a market research and consulting firm neatly summarize the chief DIY issue for telcos transferring software functions to clouds:

    “They have accumulated multiple network cloud silos using various tightly integrated xNFs and clouds, and have built specific automations that are not transferrable to other clouds.” A recommendation that conveniently ignores concern about hyperscaler dependency is to extend Azure – well established as an option for standard IT workloads – to other cloud domains, including the “existing network cloud silos.”

    Strictly speaking, there are some network domains that should forever be off-limits to the public cloud. Parts of the radio access network (RAN), in particular, have such demanding performance requirements to do with latency (a measure of the roundtrip time for a data signal on the network) that hosting them in a public cloud facility – a long way from many radio sites – would simply not work. Even Microsoft has acknowledged this shortcoming.

    “Hyperscalers are not yet able to go to the far edge and host a real-time radio application,” said Paul Miller, Wind River’s chief technology officer, during an interview with Light Reading last year.

    Red Hat and VMware can also be seen as potential solutions to the problem of public cloud lock-in. The basic theory is that a telco running software on their platforms inside a public cloud would retain the option of moving these platforms to another cloud. “You can very much think of it as an abstraction layer or point of consistency for things to run on independently of the underlying infrastructure,” said Chris Wright, Red Hat’s chief technology officer.

    It is hard to imagine a Microsoft pitch along these lines, allowing a telco to use some of its systems within a broader AWS or Google Cloud framework. The risk previously identified by James Crawshaw, a principal analyst at Omdia (a sister company to Light Reading), is that Wright’s so-called “abstraction layer” simply becomes a different source of dependency. If telcos arrive at this conclusion, they might just decide it is safer and more economical to rely solely on a behemoth like Microsoft – with its $1.9 trillion valuation and array of services –than involve a relative minnow and one-trick pony such as VMware, currently worth about $51 billion on the New York Stock Exchange.

    Not all telco executives are convinced the public cloud is necessarily cheaper than the alternatives. “I don’t think it is proven yet,” said Howard Watson, BT’s chief security and networks officer. “They are running these cloud environments at enormous scale … but the economics don’t yet reflect that.” Outside the telecom sector, others have insisted the economic attractions of the public cloud diminish as a customer grows and its IT usage becomes more predictable.

  2. “There’s a lot of interest in the US government now for adopting 5G,” Ericsson’s Mike Murphy said during a keynote presentation here at Light Reading’s Big 5G Event. “We’ll be delivering products to the DoD [US Department of Defense].”

    Murphy argued that Ericsson now meets many of the stipulations that the US military has for its 5G equipment, including support for open interfaces and domestic manufacturing.

    Ericsson recently kicked off a broader push into the private wireless 5G space, following a lead carved by its top rival Nokia. In addition, Ericsson’s new military ambitions dovetail with a program instigated by the DoD to foster the development of 5G networks at various US military bases.

    That program is part of a wider effort by the Pentagon to connect all branches of the military into one secure, flexible and global communications system that is likely to rely on 5G. Already Lockheed Martin, a top Pentagon contractor, is pushing its “5G.MIL” campaign to wirelessly connect military products such as fighter jets.

    Meeting the criteria

    Murphy, Ericsson’s CTO for North America, again reiterated the vendor’s stance on open RAN, saying that all future products will feature open specifications to allow customers to mix and match equipment from Ericsson with other vendors.

    “Ericsson is betting the company on open RAN over the long term,” Murphy said, adding that Ericsson remains active in the O-RAN Alliance, the association helping to develop open RAN specifications.

    However, companies such as Mavenir and Dish Network have questioned Ericsson’s commitment to open standards, when open RAN could loosen Ericsson’s grip on its network operator customers by giving them the opportunity to more easily replace Ericsson equipment with equipment from other vendors.

    “Nothing could be further from the truth,” Murphy said of such criticisms.

    Ericsson is in the process of implementing some of the O-RAN Alliances specifications in its equipment, he said, adding that the move would help Ericsson’s equipment meet DoD requirements for 5G equipment with open specifications.

    Murphy noted that a significant portion of Ericsson’s 5G equipment is constructed in its new manufacturing facility in Lewisville, Texas, which will help the company meet the DoD’s push for 5G equipment to be made in the USA. Murphy said that all Ericsson’s midband 5G equipment for the region would be manufactured in the facility by the end of next year.

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