Nokia and Vodafone to use machine learning on Google Cloud to detect network anomalies

Nokia and Vodafone have partnered to jointly develop a new machine learning (ML) system designed to detect and remediate network anomalies before they impact customers. Based on Nokia’s Bell Labs algorithm, the Anomaly Detection Service product runs on Google Cloud and is already being rolled out across Vodafone’s pan-European network.

In a joint statement, the partners said the ML system quickly detects and troubleshoots irregularities, such as mobile site congestion and interference, as well as unexpected latency, that may have an impact on customer service quality. Following an initial deployment in Italy on more than 60,000 LTE cells, Vodafone said it will be extending the service to all its European markets by early 2022, and there are plans to eventually apply it on the company’s 5G and core networks.

Vodafone added that it expects that around 80 percent of all its anomalous mobile network issues and capacity demands to be automatically detected and addressed using Anomaly Detection Service.

Vodafone’s deal with Nokia signed last year complements its recent six-year agreement with Google Cloud to jointly build integrated cloud-based capabilities backed by hubs of networking and software engineering expertise.

The platform, called ’Nucleus’, will house a new system ‘Dynamo’, which will drive data throughout Vodafone to enable it to more quickly offer its customers new, personalized products and services across multiple markets. Dynamo is expected to help Vodafone to tailor new connectivity services for homes and businesses through the release of new features such as providing a sudden broadband speed boost.

Capable of processing around 50 TB of data per day, Nucleus and Dynamo are considered “industry firsts”. Being built in-house by Vodafone and Google Cloud specialist teams, the project involves up to 1,000 employees of both companies located in Spain, the UK and the US.

Vodafone said it has already identified more than 700 use-cases to deliver new products and services quickly across its markets, support fact-based decision-making, reduce costs, remove duplication of data sources, and simplify and centralize operations.

Johan Wibergh, Chief Technology Officer, Vodafone, said: “We are building an automated and programmable network that can respond quickly to our customers’ needs. As we extend 5G across Europe, it is important to match the speed and responsiveness of this new technology with a great service. With machine learning, we can ensure a consistently high-quality performance that is as smart as the technology behind it.”

Amol Phadke, Managing Director, Telecom Industry Solutions, Google Cloud, said:
“We are thrilled to partner with Nokia and Vodafone to deliver a data- and AI-driven solution that scales quickly and leverages automation to increase cost efficiency and ensures seamless customer experiences across Europe. As behaviors change and the data needed for analysis increases in velocity, volume, and complexity, automation and a cloud-based data platform are now key in making fast and informed decisions.”

Anil Rao, Research Director, Analysys Mason, said: “Vodafone’s anomaly detection use case, developed in partnership with Nokia and run on Google Cloud, automates root-cause analysis for efficient network planning, optimization, and operations. This type of partnership provides a new opportunity for operators to rethink data management and increase the focus on use cases and application development.”

Raghav Sahgal, President of Cloud and Network Services, Nokia, said: “This first commercial deployment of Anomaly Detection Service with Vodafone on Google Cloud provides a great boost to customer service. It not only addresses the critical need to quickly detect and remedy anomalies impacting network performance using machine learning-based algorithms, but it also highlights Nokia’s technology leadership and the deep technical expertise of Nokia Bell Labs.”

Vodafone said it will convert its entire SAP environment to Google Cloud, including the migration of its core SAP workloads and key corporate SAP modules such as SAP Central Finance.

References:

Bell Canada Partners selects Google Cloud to Deliver Next-Generation Network Experiences

Another major national telco has forged a significant relationship with a public cloud service provider to tap into the latter’s functionality and distributed cloud platform.  Today, it’s Bell Canada and Google Cloud.

Bell Canad, Canada’s largest telecommunications company, and Google Cloud today announced a strategic partnership to power Bell’s company-wide digital transformation, enhance its network and IT infrastructure, and enable a more sustainable future. This new, multi-year partnership will combine Bell’s 5G network leadership with Google’s expertise in multi-cloud, data analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI), to deliver next-generation experiences for Bell customers across Canada.

As a strategic technology partner, Google Cloud will enable Bell to drive operational efficiencies, increase network automation, and deliver richer customer experiences through the following initiatives:

  • Shifting critical workloads to the cloud: By moving and modernizing IT infrastructure, network functions, and critical applications from on-premise to Google Cloud, Bell will be able to drive greater operational efficiencies and enable better application performance.
  • Unlocking multicloud, next-generation network technology: With the combined power of Bell’s 5G network and Anthos, Google Cloud’s multicloud solution, Bell will deliver a consistent customer experience with greater automation and enhanced flexibility that scales with customer demand. The increased speed and bandwidth capacity of the Bell 5G network will support applications that can respond faster and handle greater volumes of data than previous generations of wireless technology.
  • Leveraging the power of AI, data and analytics: Bell will leverage Google Cloud’s expertise in AI and big data to gain unique insights through real-time network data analytics that will enhance the customer experience, improve service assurance, and assist with network capacity planning.
  • Joining forces on a sustainable future: Bell and Google share a common goal to run more sustainable businesses. As the cleanest cloud in the industry, Google Cloud will contribute to Bell’s target of achieving carbon neutral operations by 2025, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.

“We’re excited to partner with Google Cloud as part of our ongoing digital transformation and take Bell’s 5G network leadership to the next level,” said Mirko Bibic, CEO, BCE Inc. and Bell Canada. “Supporting Bell’s goal to advance how Canadians connect with each other and the world, Google’s proven expertise in cloud and leadership in sustainability will provide our customers with even faster, more reliable access to the best broadband network and communications services in Canada.”

“The acceleration of 5G has created new opportunities for industry leaders like Bell to redefine their business and create richer customer experiences,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO, Google Cloud. “We’re proud to partner with Bell to support their transformational shift to the cloud, and power a better network experience for people and businesses across Canada.”

As demands on mobile networks evolve and increase, Bell and Google Cloud will collaborate throughout the next decade on new innovations, including cloud solutions for enterprise customers and consumers powered by Google edge solutions, and enhanced customer service through automation and AI. In addition, the two companies will look at new ways to expand Bell’s existing partnership with Google to evolve the network experience and introduction of next-generation services across residential, mobile, and more.

Bell Canada says its relationship with Google Cloud will enable it to “drive operational efficiencies, increase network automation, and deliver richer customer experiences” through a number of initiatives, namely: Shifting multiple workloads from private systems to its partner’s platforms; leveraging “Google Cloud’s expertise in AI and big data to gain unique insights through real-time network data analytics that will enhance the customer experience, improve service assurance, and assist with network capacity planning; and combining the operator’s 5G connectivity with Anthos-hosted applications for an experience that “can respond faster and handle greater volumes of data than previous generations of wireless technology.”

They even squeezed a sustainability angle from the relationship, boasting that the collaboration would help the operator hit its target of achieving carbon neutral operations by 2025.

And this is just the start: The partners say they will “collaborate throughout the next decade on new innovations, including cloud solutions for enterprise customers and consumers powered by Google edge solutions, and enhanced customer service through automation and AI. In addition, the two companies will look at new ways to expand Bell’s existing partnership with Google to evolve the network experience and introduction of next-generation services across residential, mobile, and more.”

Like many network operators, Bell Canada is not monogamous in its public cloud relationships: Only weeks ago it announced it is teaming up with Amazon Web Services (AWS) for telco edge service developments and will integrate AWS Wavelength Zones into its 5G network in an effort to encourage developers to create new services, particularly low-latency applications that can take advantage of edge compute assets and 5G connectivity.

Same is true for Google Cloud- they have many relationship with many telecom service providers. Earlier this year, Google Cloud signed a 10-year deal with the Canadian telco Telus. Additionally, the cloud company extended its partnership with AT&T to offer edge computing and software tools to create 5G applications. As the growth of 5G and edge computing open up new economic opportunities, the major public cloud providers have been busy inking deals with CSPs and other players in the 5G ecosystem.

In addition to its new telco deals, Google recently announced a partnership with Intel to develop reference architectures and technologies that will accelerate the deployment of 5G and edge network solutions.

References:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/bell-partners-with-google-cloud-to-deliver-next-generation-network-experiences-for-canadians-301334518.html

https://www.prnewswire.com/news/google-cloud/

https://www.telecomtv.com/content/digital-platforms-services/bell-canada-boards-the-google-cloud-train-41973/

https://www.zdnet.com/article/google-cloud-signs-multi-year-deal-with-bell-canada/

Related:

AT&T and Google Cloud Expand 5G and Edge Collaboration

AT&T 5G SA Core Network to run on Microsoft Azure cloud platform

 

NEC and Microsoft in MAJOR multi-year strategic partnership based on cloud computing

Microsoft  and NEC Corporation on Tuesday announced an expansion of their decades-long collaboration. Through a new multi-year strategic partnership, the companies will leverage Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, NEC’s network and IT expertise, including 5G technologies, and each other’s AI and IoT solutions to help enterprise customers and the public sector across multiple markets and industries further accelerate their cloud adoption and digital transformation initiatives. Microsoft and NEC have a history of strong collaboration spanning more than 40 years (since NEC introduced its PC running Microsoft software in 1979).

The partnership will have NEC adopt Microsoft Azure as its preferred cloud platform to deliver enhanced capabilities to drive sustained digitalization, help customers transform their business models, and build Digital Workplaces for the post-pandemic “new normal.”

To accelerate NEC’s Digital Workplace innovation and workforce transformation, the companies will work together to migrate NEC’s on-premises IT environment to Azure and deploy Azure Virtual Desktop and other Azure services among the NEC Group’s 110,000 employees worldwide. This modernization builds on NEC’s existing Microsoft 365 platform and will enable a highly sustainable environment that is more secure and robust, accelerating cloud migration for NEC and its customers throughout the commercial and public sector in Japan and around the world.

The companies will work together to help improve digital services for public sector and enterprise customers through workplace and workforce transformation. Greater speed and lower-latency data connections will provide high-performance network experiences to create more efficient workplaces and empower employees to realize more personalized work styles for public sector as well as private sector customers.

Leveraging the assets of both companies, including Microsoft’s Intelligent Edge solutions and NEC’s private 5G networking technologies (?), the companies will work together to help customers across industries transform. In retail, for example, the two companies will work together to analyze customer transaction data in real time using AI to better understand buying patterns, improve operational efficiency and identify new market opportunities.

The combination of Azure and both companies’ AI and IoT technologies and expertise will enhance NEC’s customer experience through advanced solutions and enable more secure maintenance and operation of stores. In addition, NEC and Microsoft plan to explore network innovation initiatives built on Microsoft Azure for enterprise domains and specific industries.

Through the partnership, the companies will work together to double the number of digital-focused engineers within the NEC Group who are specialized in Microsoft technologies. This investment in technical capabilities and the expertise of NEC’s employees will help ensure customers’ digital transformation success, benefiting the market and society.

“As we’ve seen over the past year, digital adoption curves are accelerating across every industry and business function,” said Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “Our strategic partnership with NEC brings together the power of Azure and Microsoft 365 with NEC’s services and infrastructure expertise to help public and private sector customers build resilience and transform during this era of rapid change.”

“NEC is pleased to enter into this strategic collaboration with Microsoft Corp.,” said Takayuki Morita, president and CEO of NEC Corporation. “With Microsoft’s trusted cloud and services, the experience that NEC has cultivated in its own systems, and both companies’ AI and IoT technologies, we will enable companies globally to use digital services that are safer and more secure than ever before as they progress with digital initiatives.”

“The need for sustainable transformation to ensure business resiliency and growth has never been more important in the world and especially Japan,” said Hitoshi Yoshida, president & CEO, Microsoft Japan. “Our partnership will help accelerate the industry’s cloud-based digital transformation and utilization of data migration and help Japan’s continued success globally, leading to greater economic and societal prosperity.”

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More on NEC:

NEC recently announced it had demonstrated its 4G and 5G Mobile Core Solution on Amazon Web Services for commercial offerings from “multiple” service providers in Japan. “Our core and its associated orchestration products allow us to provide sophisticated capabilities, such as end-to-end slicing, ultra-low latency and multi-cloud deployment options, which are key to realize the promises of 5G monetization,” claimed Patrick Lopez, NEC’s global VP of product management for 5G products.

Of course, NEC has partnered with Rakuten Mobile to develop the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP) and related 5G SA Cloud Native Core network software.

References:

https://news.microsoft.com/2021/07/12/microsoft-and-nec-expand-strategic-partnership-to-boost-business-resiliency-and-growth/

https://www.lightreading.com/5g/nec-sends-5g-to-cloud-with-microsoft/d/d-id/770831?

Rakuten Mobile, Inc. and NEC to jointly develop the containerized standalone (SA) 5G core network

Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP) defacto standard for 5G core and OpenRAN?

AWS deployed in Digital Realty Data Centers at 100Gbps & for Bell Canada’s 5G Edge Computing

I.  Digital Realty, the largest global provider of cloud- and carrier-neutral data center, colocation and interconnection solutions, announced today the deployment of Amazon Web Services (AWS) Direct Connect 100Gbps capability at the company’s Westin Building Exchange in Seattle, Washington and on its Interxion Dublin Campus in Ireland, bringing one of the fastest AWS Direct Connect [1.] capabilities to PlatformDIGITAL®.  Digital Realty’s platform connects 290 centers of data exchange with over 4,000 participants around the world, enabling enterprise customers to scale digital business and interconnect distributed workflows on a first of its kind global data center platform.

Note 1. AWS Direct Connect is a cloud service solution that makes it easy to establish a dedicated network connection from your premises to AWS. This can increase bandwidth throughput and provide a more consistent network experience than internet-based connections.

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As organizations bring on new technologies and solutions such as artificial intelligence (AI) and IoT at scale, the explosive growth of digital business is posing new challenges, as data takes on its own gravity, becoming heavier, denser, and more expensive to move.

The new AWS Direct Connect 100Gbps is tailored to providing easy access to larger data sets, enabling high availability, reliability and lower latency.  As a result, customers will be able to move bandwidth-heavy workloads seamlessly – and break through the barriers posed by data gravity.  Customers gain access to strategic IT infrastructure that can aggregate and maintain data with less design time and spend, enabling access to AWS with one of the fastest and highest quality AWS network connections available.

As an AWS Outposts Ready Partner, Digital Realty’s global platform is optimized to support the needs of data-intensive, secure hybrid IT deployments.  Digital Realty supports AWS Outposts deployments by enabling access to more than 40 AWS Direct Connect locations globally to address local processing, compliance, and storage requirements, while optimizing cost and performance. When coupled with the availability of AWS Direct Connect 100Gbps connections, the Westin Building Exchange and Interxion Dublin campuses become ideal meeting places for customers to tackle data gravity challenges and unlock new opportunities with their AWS Outposts deployments.

“As emerging technologies such as AI, VR and blockchain move from the margins to the mainstream, enterprises need new levels of performance from their hybrid solutions,” said Tom Sly, General Manager, AWS Direct Connect.  “Deploying AWS Direct Connect at 100Gbps at Digital Realty facilities in Seattle and Dublin is critical to our strategy of helping customers build more sophisticated applications with increased flexibility, scalability and reliability.  We’re excited to see the value Digital Realty’s PlatformDIGITAL® delivers for our mutual customers.”

The Westin Building Exchange serves as a primary interconnection hub for the Pacific Northwest, linking CanadaAlaska and Asia along the Pacific Rim.  The building is one of the most densely interconnected facilities in North America, and is home to leading global cloud, content and interconnection providers, housing over 150 carriers and more than 10,000 cross-connects, giving Amazon customers low-latency access to the largest companies and services representing the digital economy.  The 34-story tower is adjacent to Amazon’s existing 4.1 million square foot campus in Seattle.

Digital Realty offers six colocation data centers in the Irish capital, which forms a strategic bridge between Europe and the U.S.  Ireland has particular significance as a global trading hub and provides the headquarters location for several global multinationals within the software, finance and life science industries.  Multiple transatlantic cables also land in Ireland before continuing to the UK or continental Europe, making Interxion Dublin a prime location for the new AWS Direct Connect 100Gbps at the heart of a vibrant connected data community.

“Today’s announcement of the opening of AWS Direct Connect 100Gbps on-ramps significantly expands opportunities for customers to scale their digital transformation through our global PlatformDIGITAL®,” added Digital Realty Chief Technology Officer Chris Sharp.  “AWS serves some of the world’s most innovative and demanding customers, from start-up to enterprise, that are looking to drive the digital economy forward.  Our platform expands the coverage, capacity, and next-generation connectivity that AWS customers need to extend workloads to the cloud rapidly.  We are honored to open up next-generation access in collaboration with AWS and specifically at the heart of the rich digital communities at the Westin Building Exchange and on our Interxion Dublin campus.”

The new deployments create centers of data exchange in Network Hubs deployed on PlatformDIGITAL®, enabling distributed workflows to be rapidly scaled and securely interconnected – reducing operating costs, enhancing visibility, saving time and improving compliance.  The new capability also gives AWS customers instant access to a growing list of powerful AWS services such as Blockchain, Machine Learning, IoT and countless others – all over a direct, private connection optimized for high performance and security.

AIB, Inc., a leading data exchange and management firm with a software as a service platform deployed at over 1,600 automotive industry customers, recognized the value of deploying a physical Network Hub on PlatformDIGITAL® coupled with a virtual direct interconnection to AWS to enable flexibility in its hybrid IT environment.

“Our Texas-based operations required new cloud zone diversity solutions for our cloud native national vision.  Digital Realty provided an innovative and comprehensive solution for AWS cloud access through PlatformDIGITAL®,” said Kellen Dunham, CTO, AIB, Inc.

Digital Realty’s global platform enables low-latency access to both the nearest AWS Region as well as a wide array of options to connect edge deployments or devices.  Customers can securely connect to their desired AWS Region using both physical and virtual connectivity options.  Globally, PlatformDIGITAL® offers access to more than 40 AWS Direct Connect locations, including 11 in EMEA, providing secure, high-performance access to numerous AWS Outposts-Ready data centers around the world.  In addition, the Digital Realty Internet Exchange (DRIX) supports AWS Direct Peering capabilities and dedicated access to multiple third-party Internet Exchanges on PlatformDIGITAL®, providing a direct path from on-premise networks to AWS.  The solution is part of PlatformDIGITAL®’s robust and expanding partner community that solves hybrid IT challenges for the enterprise.

About Digital Realty:
Digital Realty supports the world’s leading enterprises and service providers by delivering the full spectrum of data center, colocation and interconnection solutions.  PlatformDIGITAL®, the company’s global data center platform, provides customers a trusted foundation and proven Pervasive Datacenter Architecture (PDx™) solution methodology for scaling digital business and efficiently managing data gravity challenges.  Digital Realty’s global data center footprint gives customers access to the connected communities that matter to them with 290 facilities in 47 metros across 24 countries on six continents.  To learn more about Digital Realty, please visit digitalrealty.com or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Additional Resources:

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II.  Bell Canada today announced it has entered into an agreement with Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) to modernize the digital experience for Bell customers and support 5G innovation across Canada. Bell will use the breadth and depth of AWS technologies to create and scale new consumer and business applications faster, as well as enhance how its voice, wireless, television and internet subscribers engage with Bell services and content such as streaming video. In addition, AWS and Bell are teaming up to bring AWS Wavelength to Canada, deploying it at the edge of Bell’s 5G network to allow developers to build ultra-low-latency applications for mobile devices and users. With this rollout, Bell will become the first Canadian communications company to offer AWS-powered multi-access edge computing (MEC) to business and government users.

“Bell’s partnership with AWS further heightens both our 5G network leadership and the Bell customer experience with greater automation, enhanced agility and streamlined service options. Together, we’ll provide the next-generation service innovations for consumers and business customers that will support Canada’s growth and prosperity in the years ahead,” said Mirko Bibic, President and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada. “With this first in Canada partnership to deploy AWS Wavelength at the network edge, where 5G’s high capacity, unprecedented speed and ultra low latency are crucial for next-generation applications, Bell and AWS are opening up all-new opportunities for developers to enhance our customers’ digital experiences. As Canada recovers from COVID-19 and looks forward to the economic, social and sustainability advantages of 5G, Bell is moving rapidly to expand the country’s next-generation network infrastructure capabilities. Bell’s accelerated capital investment plan, supported by government and regulatory policies that encourage significant investment and innovation in network facilities, will double our 5G coverage this year while growing the high-capacity fibre connections linking our national network footprint.”

The speed and increased bandwidth capacity of the Bell 5G network support applications that can respond much more quickly and handle greater volumes of data than previous generations of wireless technology. Through its relationship with AWS, Bell will leverage AWS Wavelength to embed AWS compute and storage services at the edge of its 5G telco networks so that applications developers can serve edge computing workloads like machine learning, IoT, and content streaming. Bell and AWS will move 5G data processing to the network edge to minimize latency and power customer-led 5G use cases such as immersive gaming, ultra-high-definition video streaming, self-driving vehicles, smart manufacturing, augmented reality, machine learning inference and distance learning throughout Canada. Developers will also have direct access to AWS’s full portfolio of cloud services to enhance and scale their 5G applications.

Optimized for MEC applications, AWS Wavelength minimizes the latency involved in sending data to and from a mobile device. AWS delivers the service through Wavelength Zones, which are AWS infrastructure deployments that embed AWS compute and storage services within a telecommunications provider’s datacenters at the edge of the 5G network so that data traffic can reach application servers within the zones without leaving the mobile provider’s network. Application data need only travel from the device to a cell tower to an AWS Wavelength Zone running in a metro aggregation site. This results in increased performance by avoiding the multiple hops between regional aggregation sites and across the internet that traditional mobile architectures require.

Outside of the AWS Wavelength deployment, Bell is also continuing to evolve its offerings to enhance its customers’ digital experiences. From streaming media to network performance to customer service, Bell will leverage AWS’s extensive portfolio of cloud capabilities to better serve its tens of millions of customers coast to coast. This work will allow Bell’s product innovation teams to streamline and automate processes as well as adapt more quickly to changing market conditions and customer preferences.

“As the first telecommunications company in Canada to provide access to AWS Wavelength, Bell is opening the door for businesses and organizations throughout the country to combine the speed of its 5G network with the power and versatility of the world’s leading cloud. Together, Bell and AWS are bringing the transformative power of cloud and 5G to users all across Canada,” said Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services, Inc. “Cloud and 5G are changing the business models for telecommunications companies worldwide, and AWS’s unmatched infrastructure capabilities in areas like machine learning and IoT will enable leaders like Bell to deliver new digital experiences that will enhance their customers’ lives.”

Launched in June 2020, Bell’s 5G network is now available to approximately 35% of the Canadian population. On February 4, Bell announced it was accelerating its typical annual capital investment of $4 billion by an additional $1 billion to $1.2 billion over the next 2 years to rapidly expand its fibre, rural Wireless Home Internet and 5G networks, followed May 31 by the announcement of a further up to $500 million increase in capital spending. With this accelerated capital investment plan, Bell’s 5G network is on track to reach approximately 70% of the Canadian population by year end.

5G will support a wide range of new consumer and business applications in coming years, including virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence and machine learning, connected vehicles, remote workforces, telehealth and Smart Cities, with unprecedented IoT opportunities for business and government. 5G is also accelerating the positive environmental impact of Bell’s networks. The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association estimates 5G technology can support 1000x the traffic at half of current energy consumption over the next decade, enhancing the potential of IoT and other next-generation technologies to support sustainable economic growth, and supporting Bell’s own objective to be carbon neutral across its operations in 2025.

About Bell Canada:
The Bell team builds world-leading broadband wireless and fiber networks, provides innovative mobile, TV, Internet and business communications services and delivers the most compelling content with premier television, radio, out of home and digital media brands. With a goal to advance how Canadians connect with each other and the world, Bell serves more than 22 million consumer and business customer connections across every province and territory. Founded in Montréal in 1880, Bell is wholly owned by BCE Inc. (TSX, NYSE: BCE). To learn more, please visit Bell.ca or BCE.ca.

Bell supports the social and economic prosperity of our communities with a commitment to the highest environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards. We measure our progress in increasing environmental sustainability, achieving a diverse and inclusive workplace, leading data governance and protection, and building stronger and healthier communities. This includes confronting the challenge of mental illness with the Bell Let’s Talk initiative, which drives mental health awareness and action with programs like the annual Bell Let’s Talk Day and Bell funding for community care, research and workplace programs nationwide all year round.

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Comment and Analysis:

AWS already has an edge compute footprint that covers parts of Asia, Europe and North America. AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure increasingly (unsurprisingly) look like the real power brokers and empire builders in multi-access/mobile edge computing.  Rogers and Telus, Bell’s two main rivals. will likely contract with one of the three big cloud service providers for their 5G edge computing needs.

References:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/digital-realty-announces-availability-of-aws-direct-connect-100g-dedicated-connections-on-platformdigital-in-seattle-and-dublin-301304923.htmlA

https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/bell-transforms-customer-experiences-and-extends-5g-leadership-by-collaborating-with-aws-for-cloud-and-5g-multi-access-edge-computing-836251021.html

 

Cloud Service Providers Increase Telecom Revenue; Telcos Move to Cloud Native

MTN Consulting publishes quarterly vendor share in the telecom vertical, covering more than 100 suppliers of hardware, software and services. Many of them are starting to call out the cloud service providers as among their key competitors. VMware is an obvious one. It notes that “providers of public cloud infrastructure and SaaS-based offerings, such as Amazon AWS, Google GCP, Oracle Cloud and Microsoft Azure” are direct competitors.

Nearly a decade ago, as cloud services began gaining popularity, many telcos hoped to be direct beneficiaries on the revenue side. The cloud market went a much different direction, though, with large internet-based providers proving to have the global scale and deep pockets able to develop the market effectively. From 2011-2020 webscale operators invested over $700 billion in capex, a big portion of it devoted to building out their cloud infrastructure.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) made the earliest strides in telecom, in 2015 (with Verizon), but Azure and GCP were serious about the market by 2017.

By 2020, cloud service providers had made significant progress in the telecom sector. The figure below, courtesy of MTN Consulting, provides an estimate of cloud revenues in the telecom vertical for the three top U.S. based cloud service providers as well as China-based Alibaba and Tencent.

Here is how cloud computing helps telecom operators thrive and provide better services:

  • Ensure high scalability: telcos who have made their journey to the cloud can easily scale up for today and scale back down once the demand for telecommunication services returns to its normal.
  • Guarantee resilience: cloud computing helps telecom companies quickly recover from stressful situations such as sporadic high loads, hacker attacks, hardware failures, etc. It is based on a well-architected approach that allows the self-healing of a system in time. Anomaly detection, automation, and adaptiveness are the key concepts of it.
  • Offer quick disaster recovery: anything from a power outage at a data center to a security breach may cause data loss. If you have backups of databases stored in the cloud, you can quickly restore all the data.
  • Improve time-to-market: with cloud computing, telecom companies can deliver their products and services faster, because they no longer have to procure individual pieces of hardware for each function in the network. They can now develop network functions from the outset as software and run them on servers hosted in a cloud environment.
  • Cut expenses: in terms of cost economics, cloud reduces the operating expense of a company setting up and managing its own data center. This includes various costs associated with hardware, software, servers, energy bills, IT experts, etc. With cloud infrastructure, a telecom company simply pays only for services it uses.
  • Enhance customer experience: cloud computing helps telecom operators minimize latency, strengthen security, provide automated customer support, predict customer preferences, and offer new omnichannel digital experiences.
  • Enable network automation: cloud helps automate today’s manual processes regarding designing and testing new network components; deploying, orchestrating, and monitoring networks. This becomes possible thanks to continuous integration, continuous testing, and continuous deployment. Modern networks are able to analyze their performance and respond to issues in real-time that only boosts customer satisfaction.
  • Make use of data: telecom companies process huge volumes of customer data. And cloud enables operators to drive valuable insights from this data with the help of data science and data analytics. As a result, telcos can use these insights to further improve their operations. For example, during the pandemic, telecom operators provide data to monitor how people and crowds are spreading the virus.
  • Generate new revenue streams: telecom operators can monetize their physical infrastructures by partnering with cloud service providers. Until recently, operators and hyperscalers were seen as competitors. But partnerships between telecommunications companies and cloud providers will only support further market growth. Telcos can offer their infrastructures to cloud providers to help them get closer to customers at the edge by launching platform solutions dedicated to telecoms infrastructure and integrate directly with 5G networks.
  • The latest of such solutions include: Wavelength from AWS, Azure Edge Zones from Microsoft and Anthos for Telecom from Google Cloud.

Several new telco-cloud collaboration announcements in the last few weeks:

  • Telefonica signed a collaboration agreement with Microsoft for Azure Private Edge Zone, combining private 5G connections from Telefonica with Azure edge computing capabilities on the customer premise. (May 11)
  • Vodafone expanded on existing work with Google Cloud to create a six-year partnership to jointly build a new integrated data platform to help Vodafone “more quickly offer its customers new, personalized products and services across multiple markets” (May 3)
  • Dish Network, a greenfield open RAN-based operator in the U.S., agreed to build its 5G core network on AWS: Local Zones to support low latency, Outposts to extend capabilities to customer premises, Graviton2-based instances for compute workloads, and EKS to run containerized workloads. (April 21)
  • Google Cloud and AT&T announced a collaboration to help enterprises take advantage of Google Cloud’s technologies and capabilities using AT&T network connectivity at the edge, including 5G. Additionally, AT&T and Google Cloud intend to deliver a portfolio of 5G edge computing solutions that bring together AT&T’s network, Google Cloud’s leading technologies, and edge computing to help enterprises address real business challenges.

The cloud service providers are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to go after business in the telecom vertical. Moreover, they are also partnering with the traditional vendors to the telecom vertical to develop joint offerings. Nokia announced three such deals last quarter, one each with AWS, Azure and GCP. There are many other examples. NEC and AWS teamed up in 2019 on a mobile core solution, for instance, and Amdocs has collaborations in place with each of the big three. Just last month Amdocs won a digital transformation deal at Singapore’s M1 which leverages their Azure relationship.

Matt Walker, founder and Chief Analyst of MTN Consulting LLC wrote in a Fierce Telecom article: “Whether the cloud players are competitors, partners, suppliers or all of those, they’re going to continue to reshape telecom’s landscape for years to come.”

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Telco’s Move from Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) to Cloud Native Core Networks:

With VNFs, many network operators (e.g. AT&T) have automated portions of their infrastructures. But to satisfy new performance demands and meet the needs of modern customers, telcos are now migrating to fully cloud-native infrastructures.

Cloud-native network functions (CNFs) are a new way of providing a required network functionality using containers.

CNFs are dynamic, flexible, and easily scaled, making them a favored solution in the transition to 5G. While a VM with its own operating system may consume several gigabytes of storage space, a container might only be tens of megabytes in size. Therefore, a single server can host more containers than VMs, significantly boosting data-center efficiency while reducing equipment, maintenance, power, and other costs.

In the near future, it is expected that many of the deployments on the road to 5G will consist of a mix of CNFs and VNFs as we are now at the transition stage of moving to fully cloud-native architectures.

Image courtesy of N-iX  (a Ukraine and Poland based provider of software development outsourcing and professional services)

Here are some suggestions to facilitate telco’s move to cloud native core networks from N-iX:

  1. Decide on the cloud strategy: choose the best deployment model: public, private, or hybrid clouds, select the most suitable approach: single cloud or multi-cloud, settle on the cloud provider (s).
  2. Create a clear migration plan: it should include your goals, costs estimates, timelines, services and technology to use, etc.
  3. Choose a VNF migration strategy: define which network functions need to remain as VMs and which can be re-architected as cloud-native microservices.
  4. Assess and prioritize your apps, processes, and operations: understand app dependencies; categorize your apps into mission-critical applications, business-critical applications, customer-facing applications, and other non-critical apps; define operations that can be automated; simplify processes so that they consist of fewer steps.
  5. Adopt microservices architecture: transform your monolith architecture into a number of loosely coupled microservices to be able to quickly develop, test, and deploy new features and fixes without impacting other components of the application.
  6. Make use of containers: Containers make it easy to move applications between environments while retaining full functionality. They also make it possible to build and run scalable applications across public, private, and hybrid clouds.
  7. Leverage edge computing: edge computing is among the top telecom trends. Telcos should make use of edge networks to reduce latency and improve network performance by bringing workloads closer to the users who need to access them. As opposed to the content delivery network (CDN), which is considered to be the predecessor of edge computing and only stores cached data, edge networks, by contrast, can accommodate a wider array of functionality (they can store and process data in real-time) and device types.

Nokia is a strong supporter of Cloud Native. Here’s what they say:

For 5G, service providers need more from cloud. Cloud must be re-architected to cloud-native so that they can get breakthrough business agility in rapidly onboarding new apps and deploying & operating new services.

The scale of 5G brings many more devices and a very diverse mix of services, there’s no way legacy operations can keep up, they need much more automation, especially for slicing. 5G brings new performance demands, so the cloud needs to move towards the edge, for the sake of low-latency, localized reliability, and traffic steering; for that CSP need cloud-native’s efficiency.

The journey to cloud-native

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References:

https://www.fiercetelecom.com/telecom/cloud-players-reshape-telecom-s-landscape-industry-voices-walker

https://www.n-ix.com/cloud-computing-telecom/

Analysis of Dish Network – AWS partnership to build 5G Open RAN cloud native network

Vodafone and Google Cloud to Develop Integrated Data Platform

Gartner: Global public cloud spending to reach $332.3 billion in 2021; 23.1% YoY increase

IDC: Microsoft Azure now tied with AWS as top global cloud services provider

IDC: Global Telecoms Market at $1.53T in 2020; Meager Growth Forecast

https://www.nokia.com/networks/portfolio/cloud-native-solutions/

 

 

IDC: Microsoft Azure now tied with AWS as top global cloud services provider

The public cloud services market grew over 24% year-on-year in 2020 to $312 billion, according to the latest study from IDC [1.]. The cloud services market includes Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), System Infrastructure Software as a Service (SISaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).
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Note 1.  IDC’s Worldwide Semiannual Public Cloud Services Tracker® monitors the evolving and shifting competitive dynamics of the public cloud services market. It tracks and measures the individual public cloud services providers’ historical business performance and forecasts five years into the future — across 53 geographies and up to 80 discrete market segments. This extensive coverage of vendor share information enables both global and local players to benchmark themselves in terms of business growth and market penetration. Software vendors, systems integrators, value-added resellers, distributors, investors, and other users will be able to keep track of the market performance of main competitors such as Salesforce, Oracle, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon Web Services as well as identify the newcomers to the market and measure the impact and potential of those new players on the competitive landscape.
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Spending continued to consolidate in 2020 with the combined revenue of the top five public cloud service providers (Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft (Azure), Salesforce.com, Google, and Oracle) increased their spending by 32% and captured 38% of the worldwide total market.

Thanks to an expanding portfolio of SaaS and SISaaS offerings, Microsoft now shares the top position with Amazon Web Services in the whole public cloud services market with both companies holding 12.8% revenue share for the year.

“Access to shared infrastructure, data, and application resources in public clouds played a critical role in helping organizations and individuals navigate the disruptions of the past year,” said Rick Villars, group vice president, Worldwide Research at IDC. “In the coming years, enterprises’ ability to govern a growing portfolio of cloud services will be the foundation for introducing greater automation into business and IT processes while also becoming more digitally resilient.”

While the overall public cloud services market grew 24.1% in 2020, consistent with the past four years, the IaaS and PaaS segments have consistently grown at much faster rates. This highlights the increasing reliance of enterprises on a cloud foundation built on cloud infrastructure, software defined data, compute and governance solutions as a Service, and cloud-native platforms for application deployment for enterprise IT internal applications. IDC expects spending on foundational cloud services (especially IaaS and PaaS) to continue growing at a higher rate than the overall cloud market as resilience, flexibility, and agility guide IT platform decisions.

“Cloud service providers are rapidly expanding their portfolio of infrastructure and platform services to address confidential computing, performance intensive computing, and hybrid deployment scenarios,” said Dave McCarthy, vice president, Cloud and Edge Infrastructure Services. “Extending these foundational cloud services to customer premises and communications networks enables a broader set of use cases than previously possible.”

“The high pace of growth in PaaS, IaaS, and SISaaS, which combined account for about half of the public cloud services market, reflects the demand for solutions that accelerate and automate the development and delivery of modern applications” said Lara Greden, research director, Platform as a Service. “As organizations adopt DevOps approaches and align according to value streams, we are seeing PaaS, IaaS, and SISaaS solutions become increasingly adopted and, at the same time, grow in the range of services and thus value they provide. Innovations in edge and IoT use cases are also contributing to the faster rates of growth in these markets.”

“SaaS applications are the largest and most mature segment of public cloud with 2020 revenues of $148 billion. Organizations across industries hastened the replacement of legacy business applications with a new breed of SaaS applications that is data-driven, intuitive, composable, and ideally suited for more distributed cloud architectures. Organizations looking for industry-specific applications can choose from a growing assortment of vertical applications. The SaaS apps market is dominated by a longtail of providers that account for 65% of the total market,” said Frank Della Rosa, research director, SaaS and Cloud Software.

Worldwide Public Cloud Services Revenue and Year-over-Year Growth, Calendar Year 2020 (revenues in US$ billions)

Segment 2020 Revenue Market Share 2019 Revenue Market Share Year-over-Year Growth
IaaS $67.2 21.5% $50.2 19.9% 33.9%
SaaS – System Infrastructure Software $49.2 15.7% $40.2 16.0% 22.4%
PaaS $47.6 15.2% $36.1 14.4% 31.8%
SaaS – Applications $148.4 47.5% $125.2 49.7% 18.6%
Total $312.4 100% $251.7 100% 24.1%
Source: IDC Worldwide Semiannual Public Cloud Services Tracker, 2H20

Looking at the segment results, a combined view of IaaS, SISaaS, and PaaS spending is relevant because it represents the foundational set of services that end customers and SaaS companies consume when running, modernizing, building, and governing applications on shared public clouds. In the combined IaaS, SISaaS and PaaS market, the top 5 companies (Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Google, Alibaba, and IBM) captured over 51% of global revenues. But there continues to be a healthy long tail, representing nearly half the market total. These are companies with targeted use case-specific PaaS services or cross-cloud compute, data, or network governance services. The long tail is even more pronounced in SaaS, where customers growing focus on specific outcomes ensures that over two thirds of the spending is captured outside the top five.

For more information about IDC’s Worldwide Semiannual Public Cloud Services Tracker, please contact Kathy Nagamine at 650-350-6423 or knagamine@idc.com
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References:

Gartner: Global public cloud spending to reach $332.3 billion in 2021; 23.1% YoY increase

According to Gartner, global public cloud spending is forecast to reach $332.3 billion in 2021, increasing by 23.1% from $270 billion in 2020.  Growth in cloud spending can be attributed to increased adoption in technologies such as virtualization, edge computing and containerization.

“The events of last year allowed CIOs to overcome any reluctance of moving mission critical workloads from on-premises to the cloud,” said Sid Nag, research vice president at Gartner. “Even absent the pandemic there would still be a loss of appetite for data centers.

Table 1. Worldwide Public Cloud Services End-User Spending Forecast (Millions of U.S. Dollars)

  2020 2021 2022
Cloud Business Process Services (BPaaS) 46,131 50,165 53,121
Cloud Application Infrastructure Services (PaaS) 46,335 59,451 71,525
Cloud Application Services (SaaS) 102,798 122,633 145,377
Cloud Management and Security Services 14,323 16,029 18,006
Cloud System Infrastructure Services (IaaS) 59,225 82,023 106,800
Desktop as a Service (DaaS) 1,220 2,046 2,667
Total Market 270,033 332,349 397,496

BPaaS = business process as a service; IaaS = infrastructure as a service; PaaS = platform as a service; SaaS = software as a service     Note: Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Source: Gartner (April 2021)

As organizations mobilize for a massive global effort to produce and distribute COVID-19 vaccinations, SaaS based applications that enable essential tasks such as automation and supply chain is critical. Such applications continue to demonstrate reliability in scaling vaccine management, which in turn will help CIOs further validate the ongoing shift to cloud.

“It’s important to note that the usage and adoption of cloud that served enterprises well during the ongoing crisis will not look the same in the coming years,” said Mr. Nag. “It will further evolve from serving pedestrian use cases such as infrastructure and application migration, to those that combine cloud with technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, 5G and more.

“In other words, cloud will serve as the glue between many other technologies that CIOs want to use more of, allowing them to leapfrog into the next century as they address more complex and emerging use cases. It will be a disruptive market, to say the least.”

Driven by demand for composable applications, software-as-a-service (SaaS) will account for the largest market segment to reach $122.6 billion in 2021. Gartner cited that SaaS-based applications will be instrumental in countries’ efforts to produce and distribute COVID-19 vaccinations, in areas such as automation and supply chain. These applications will help CIOs validate the shift to cloud.Desktop-as-a-service will experience the highest growth at 67.7% to reach $2 billion, while infrastructure-as-a-service will grow by 38.5% this year to reach $82 billion. In 2022, growth in these areas is expected to slow down.
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Cloud Computing Fuels Revenues and Profits for Big 3 Cloud Companies: 

Amazon’s market-leading AWS cloud business grew revenue 32% in the first quarter, a faster pace than analysts had expected and accelerating from 28% growth in the fourth quarter.  Microsoft’s revenue has skyrocketed since it invested billions of dollars to build a massive, interconnected cloud computing platform.  Revenues for its Azure cloud offering were up 50% in the quarter. Meanwhile, revenues at Google’s Cloud business grew 46% this past quarter.  However, Google continues to be a distant third to Amazon and Microsoft in the cloud business.

All three cloud providers are making a big push into edge computing and 5G “cloud native” core networks.   That effectively makes them leaders in those new tech markets, with the traditional network providers playing a subservient role.  For example, Dish Network will build its 5G core network using the AWS cloud infrastructure and services.

These big three cloud businesses are in reality massive cloud (i.e. Internet) resident data centers with high-speed interconnections (Data Center Interconnects). There’s no reason to think growth will slow any time soon. Were they stand-alone businesses, they would be the three largest enterprise-software entities in the world.  And they design their own compute servers, making them the world’s largest global computer companies too!

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While cloud services boomed in the past year, Gartner suggests that spending on cloud might take a different note in 2021 and 2022 as enterprises shift away from infrastructure and application migration towards advanced applications integrating AI and IoT and 5G.

In the first quarter of 2021, research and analytics firm Canalys reported that global cloud services infrastructure spending grew to $41.8 billion to represent a 35% year-on-year increment and 5% quarter-on-quarter growth.

References:

https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2021-04-21-gartner-forecasts-worldwide-public-cloud-end-user-spending-to-grow-23-percent-in-2021

https://www.telecomreviewasia.com/index.php/news/industry-news/2325-global-public-cloud-spending-to-reach-332-3-billion-in-2021

Curmudgeon/Sperandeo: Technology Fab Five Biggest Winners from Covid-19 Pandemic

 

Vodafone and Google Cloud to Develop Integrated Data Platform

Vodafone and Google Cloud today announced a new, six-year strategic partnership to drive the use of reliable and secure data analytics, insights, and learnings to support the introduction of new digital products and services for Vodafone customers simultaneously worldwide.

In a significant expansion of their existing agreement, Vodafone and Google Cloud will jointly build a powerful new integrated data platform with the added capability of processing and moving huge volumes of data globally from multiple systems into the cloud.

The platform, called ‘Nucleus‘, will house a new system – ‘Dynamo‘ – which will drive data throughout Vodafone to enable it to more quickly offer its customers new, personalized products and services across multiple markets. Dynamo will allow Vodafone to tailor new connectivity services for homes and businesses through the release of smart network features, such as providing a sudden broadband speed boost.

Capable of processing around 50 terabytes of data per day, equivalent to 25,000 hours of HD film (and growing), both Nucleus and Dynamo, which are industry firsts, are being built in-house by Vodafone and Google Cloud specialist teams. Up to 1,000 employees of both companies located in Spain, the UK, and the United States are collaborating on the project.

Vodafone has already identified more than 700 use-cases to deliver new products and services quickly across Vodafone’s markets, support fact-based decision-making, reduce costs, remove duplication of data sources, and simplify and centralize operations.  The speed and ease with which Vodafone’s operating companies in multiple countries can access its data analytics, intelligence, and machine-learning capabilities will also be vastly improved.

By generating more detailed insight and data-driven analysis across the organization and with its partners, Vodafone customers around the world can have a better and more enriched experience. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Enhancing Vodafone’s mobile, fixed, and TV content and connectivity services through the instantaneous availability of highly personalized rewards, content, and applications. For example, a consumer might receive a sudden broadband speed boost based on personalized individual needs.
  • Increasing the number of smart network services in its Google Cloud footprint from eight markets to the entire Vodafone footprint. This allows Vodafone to precisely match network roll-out to consumer demand, increase capacity at critical times, and use machine learning to predict, detect, and fix issues before customers are aware of them.
  • Empowering data scientists to collaborate on key environmental and health issues in 11 countries using automated machine learning tools. Vodafone is already assisting governments and aid organisations, upon their request, with secure, anonymised, and aggregated movement data to tackle COVID-19. This partnership will further improve Vodafone’s ability to provide deeper insights, in accordance with local laws and regulations, into the spread of disease through intelligent analytics across a wider geographical area.
  • Providing a complete digital replica of many of Vodafone’s internal support functions using artificial intelligence and advanced analytics. Called a digital twin, it enables analytic models on Google Cloud to improve response times to enquiries and predict future demand. The system will also support a digital twin of Vodafone’s vast digital infrastructure worldwide.
  • In addition, Vodafone will re-platform its entire SAP environment to Google Cloud, including the migration of its core SAP workloads and key corporate SAP modules such as SAP Central Finance.

Johan Wibergh, Chief Technology Officer for Vodafone, said: “Vodafone is building a powerful foundation for a digital future. We have vast amounts of data which, when securely processed and made available across our footprint using the collective power of Vodafone and Google Cloud’s engineering expertise, will transform our services, to our customers and governments, and the societies where they live and serve.”

Thomas Kurian, CEO at Google Cloud, commented: “Telecommunications firms are increasingly differentiating their customer experiences through the use of data and analytics, and this has never been more important than during the current pandemic. We are thrilled to be selected as Vodafone’s global strategic cloud partner for analytics and SAP, and to co-innovate on new products that will accelerate the industry’s digital transformation.”

Revenues at Google’s Cloud business grew 46% this past quarter.  However, Google continues to be a distant third to Amazon and Microsoft in the cloud business.

Technical Notes:

All data generated by Vodafone in the markets in which it operates is stored and processed in the required Google Cloud facilities as per local jurisdiction requirements and in accordance with local laws and regulations. Customer permissions and Vodafone’s own rigorous security and privacy by design processes also apply.

On the back of their collaborative work, Vodafone and Google Cloud will also explore opportunities to provide consultancy services, offered either jointly or independently, to other multi-national organizations and businesses.

The platform is being built using the latest hybrid cloud technologies from Google Cloud to facilitate the rapid standardization and movement of data in both Vodafone’s physical data centers and onto Google Cloud. Dynamo will direct all of Vodafone’s worldwide data, extracting, encrypting, and anonymizing the data from source to cloud and back again, enabling intelligent data analysis and generating efficiencies and insight.

References:

https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/news-releases/vodafone-and-google-cloud-to-develop-industry-first-global-data-platform-301281936.html

https://cloud.google.com/press-releases/2021/0503/vodafone-google-cloud (video)

 

Cisco Plus: Network as a Service includes computing and storage too

Cisco Systems is extending the concept of software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology with the introduction of Cisco Plus, which is a network-as-a-service (NaaS) offering focused on cybersecurity and hybrid cloud services. The new service offering can also provide computing-as-a-service and data-storage-as-a-service.

  • Cisco announcing plans to lead the industry with new Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) solutions to deliver simpler IT and flexible procurement for customers looking for greater speed, agility and scale
  • Cisco also reveals plans to help customers build a SASE foundation today (with Cisco SD-WAN and security) with as-a-service offer coming soon
  • Cisco Plus offers include flexible consumption for data center networking, compute and storage now, and commits to delivering the majority of its portfolio as-a-service over time

“I believe every organization would benefit from simplifying powerful technology,” said Todd Nightingale, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Enterprise Networking and Cloud, Cisco. “Network-as-a-service is a great option for businesses wanting to shift to a cloud operating model without a heavy lift. Cisco is leading the industry in its approach with Cisco Plus. Together with our partners, we intend to offer the majority of our technology portfolio in the simplest, most flexible way: cloud-driven, cloud-delivered, cloud-managed and as-a-service.”

“Network-as-a-service delivery is a great option for businesses wanting to shift to a cloud operating model that makes its easy and simple to buy and consume the necessary components to improve and grow their businesses,” said James Mobley, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Network Services Business Unit.

Cisco Plus NaaS solutions will provide:

  • Seamless and secure onramps to applications and cloud providers
  • Flexible delivery models, including pay-per-use or pay-as-you-grow options
  • End-to-end visibility from the client to the application to the ISP
  • Unified policy engine to ensure the right users have access
  • Security across everything, not bolted on as another point solution
  • Real-time analytics providing AI/ML-driven insights for cost and performance tracking
  • API extensibility across the technology stack
  • Partners layering additional value and delivering their services faster

The NaaS rollout will first focus on a cloud-based solution as-a-service for secure access service edge (SASE). The Cisco SASE offer currently available enables customers to easily leverage future services with investment protection. Cisco is planning limited release NaaS solutions later this calendar year that will unify networking, security and visibility services across access, WAN and cloud domains.

While Cisco plans in the next few years to introduce what will likely be many service options under Cisco Plus, for now it is introducing two flavors. The first, Cisco Plus Hybrid Cloud, includes the company’s data-center compute, networking, and storage portfolio in addition to third-party software and storage components all controlled by the company’s Intersight cloud management package.  Customers can choose the level of services they want for planning, design and installation Mobley said.

Cisco Plus Hybrid Cloud, which will be available mid-year, offers pay-as-you-go with delivery of orders within 14 days, Mobley said.

“As enterprises recommit to their digital transformation strategies, they are increasingly looking for more cloud-like, flexible consumption models for procuring and managing their IT, cloud and network infrastructure. These “as-a-service” deployment options provide much needed flexibility and scalability, along with a simplification of network deployments and ongoing operations. Cisco’s transition to as-a-service via Cisco Plus shows the company is committed to meeting customer needs for predictable costs, cloud-like agility, first-class security, and more.

“With Cisco Plus, it’s taking NaaS and its hybrid cloud offerings to the next level by including hardware and the full portfolio into this as-a-service offer, that provides cloud-like simplicity and flexibility of consumption on one end, and on the other, it provides a rich set of intelligent operational enhancements that go a long way to deliver enhanced IT experiences and outcomes. This has also been made possible by increased embedded intelligence now available in network and IT hardware and software, coupled with advanced telemetry options in many of these platforms.”

— Rohit Mehra, Vice President of Network Infrastructure, IDC.

“With Cisco Plus, we couldn’t be more excited that Cisco is diving deeper into the as-a-service era, helping us in our transformation to deliver IT as a service to our customers. In this way, we are better equipped to help our customers simplify their IT operations, and free up resources to invest in innovation of their core business.” — Jeffrey den Oudsten, CTO Office Solutions Director, Conscia Nederland

“There’s always been a push and pull in how to operationalize and finance IT infrastructure. Cisco Plus is the matching pair to a cloud operating model. Delivering Cisco Plus across the majority of Cisco’s portfolio helps us at Insight to further deliver the transformation to a cloud operating model our clients want. With Cisco Plus, organizations can not only operate their infrastructure as a cloud, but also consume it in a similar fashion, enabling a true hybrid, multi-cloud.”  — Juan Orlandini, Chief Architect Cloud + Data Center Transformation, Insight

“At Presidio, we have seen this shift coming for a long time. Our customers are very clear: They want to consume reliable, best of breed infrastructure with consumption-based financial models. And with the launch of Cisco Plus, Presidio and Cisco in partnership are doing just that.”  — Raphael Meyerowitz, Engineering VP, Office of the CTO, Data Center, Presidio

The second Cisco Plus service, which did not have an availability timeframe, will feature the company’s secure access services edge (SASE) components, such as Cisco’s SD-WAN and cloud-based Umbrella security software.

Security-as-a-service models offer many advantages for organizations including offloading the maintenance of hundreds or thousands of firewalls and other security appliances, said Neil Anderson, senior director of network solutions at World Wide Technology, a technology and supply-chain services provider.

“With SASE, enterprises can consume that from the cloud and let someone else take care of the toil, which frees up their security team to focus on threat vectors and prevention,” he said.

While the strategy behind delivering network components as a cloud-based service has been around for a few years, it is not a widely used enterprise-customer strategy. Cisco’s entry into NaaS is likely to change that notion significantly.

“Cisco has been on this journey for a few years now—starting with providing subscription-based offers for many of its software solutions—while working on simplifying and enriching the licensing and consumption experience,” Mehra said. “Customers understand and have embraced cloud-like IT-consumption models that are typically subscription-based and provide scalability and other on-demand capabilities,” Mehra said.

 Terms such as NaaS are still largely new in an enterprise context to most IT practitioners, although they do understand that operational simplicity and flexibility will be crucial to their success in digital transformation, Mehra said.

While NaaS might be relatively new to some customers, others are already utilizing it, other experts said. For remote-access, customers are more than ready, and it’s starting to go mainstream, Anderson said.

“For connectivity to the cloud edge, it’s coming very soon, and the adoption of SASE models for security will accelerate the demand for NaaS services,” he said. “NaaS in the campus will probably take a bit longer, but we see that coming. Some customer segments, like retail, are probably ready today, while others like global financials will take longer to adopt.”

Networking is no longer just about connecting things within private networks because there is a world of networking to and between clouds to account for, Anderson said.  “For example, with private WANsI typically networked my sites to my other sites like a private data center. Now, I need to network my sites to cloud services, and I may be doing so with public-internet services,” Anderson said.

NaaS for the campus network is another use case on the horizon, he said. “To build campus networks in the past, we had access, distribution, and core layers, and the core spanned my campus and sometimes private data center. It was designed to aggregate traffic from users into my private data center,” Anderson said. “Today, much of the traffic is heading to the cloud—Office 365 is the tipping point for many organizations—so building a core network may not be necessary. I see a new architecture emerging where the goal is to tie each site, including each building of a campus, to the internet directly to connect users to cloud and enable traffic to [reach] the cloud sooner, ultimately improving the user experience.”

Naas is by no means a slam dunk, and there will be challenges for enterprises that use it. “For medium to large organizations with significant investments in existing remote, branch, campus and data-center networking network-security infrastructure, migrating to NaaS will be difficult and time consuming. Multi-vendor environments will further complicate the matter,” stated principal analyst at Doyle Research, Lee Doyle.

Widespread adoption of enterprise NaaS will occur slowly over the next five to 10 years Doyle stated. The best fits for adoption now are greenfield sites, temporary locations, and small branch offices. NaaS offerings will also be attractive to network remote, home and mobile workers who need secure, reliable application performance. Enterprise networks with the requirement to move traffic at high speeds on-site would be more difficult to deliver as a service, Doyle stated.

Key challenges, besides understanding of what NaaS will help deliver, face IT practitioners who are the potential customers as well as vendors and service providers, Mehra said.

“On the customer aspects, what we’ll need to watch will be the changing role of IT and how it can optimally consume these technologies as a service while retaining overall control of its IT environment,” Mehra said. “On the provider side, visibility across issues such as operational flexibility and simplicity will be one area to consider, while another will be the direction the industry takes on what metered-service options it makes available for its clients.”

The challenges depend on the industry and security requirements, WWT’s Anderson said. “If the organization is in a heavily regulated industry like financial, healthcare, or federal [government], one challenge will be trusting the integrated security needed,” Anderson said. “For example, there would be fewer challenges to enable everyone to connect to the internet, akin to a giant hotspot, but to adopt more of a zero-trust model, where you may need to securely isolate sessions and devices from one another, will require building trust in some integrated security technologies.”

“What Cisco is doing is very interesting because what NaaS is out there has been limited to mostly the WAN world but once you start targeting the enterprise that’s where the challenges are because customers still have to move bits and everything can’t be in the cloud,” Doyle said. “Instead of being in the first inning of a game we are really just now defining the rules of the game, so there’s a long way to go.”

References:

https://newsroom.cisco.com/press-release-content?type=webcontent&articleId=2150489?dtid=oblgzzz001087

https://www.networkworld.com/article/3613180/cisco-puts-network-as-a-service-options-on-enterprise-menu.html

https://www.zdnet.com/article/cisco-launches-cisco-plus-a-step-toward-network-as-a-service/

Key Findings from Flexera’s 2021 State of the Cloud report

Cloud computing adoption was expanding rapidly even before the COVID-19.  The urgent changes to business operations and procedure caused organization plans and adoption to increase at an even greater rate.

According to Flexera’s 2021 State of the Cloud report, organizations are rapidly progressing their journey to cloud.  The report found that public cloud spending is now a significant line item in IT budgets, especially among enterprise organizations (31%) that said they spent more than $12 million a year on public cloud services.

The survey polled 750 “cloud decision-makers and users” from organizations ranging from 100 employees to more than 10,000 employees around the world and across a cross-section of organizations. It specifically asked about services run on AWS, Microsoft Azure, GCP, VMware Cloud on AWS, IBM Public Cloud, Oracle Infrastructure Cloud, and Alibaba Cloud.

AWS continues to be the leading cloud service provider with 79% of enterprise respondents saying they use the platform and 9% saying they are “experimenting” with AWS. Microsoft’s Azure was used by 76% of respondents. 11% of respondents said they are experimenting with Azure.

Azure adoption increased among all respondents in 2020. It increased from 63% last year to 73% this year. By comparison, AWS’ year-over-year growth was just 1 percentage point to 77%.

While AWS and Azure are compete for the #1 cloud service provider, GCP saw the strongest growth among the top three, growing from 34% usage last year to 49% usage this year. Additionally, GCP and VMware Cloud on AWS reported the highest number of respondents experimenting on their platforms, which the Flexera report says could drive future cloud adoption.

The following are some of the responses of interest:

Enterprises embrace multi-cloud:

• 92 percent of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy; 80 percent have a hybrid cloud strategy

• 49 percent silo workloads by cloud, with 45 percent integrating data between clouds

• Only 42 percent of all participating organizations use multi-cloud management tools

• Respondents use an average of 2.6 public and 2.7 private clouds

Public cloud adoption continues to accelerate:
• 36 percent of enterprises spend more than $12 million per year on public clouds
• 55 percent of enterprise workloads are expected to be in a public cloud within twelve months

• 90 percent of respondents who answered a question about COVID-19 expect cloud use to exceed plans due to the pandemic
• The top challenge in cloud migration is understanding application dependencies

Understanding cloud initiatives and metrics:
• 61 percent of organizations plan to optimize cloud costs in 2021, making it the top initiative for the fifth year in a row
• 59 percent of organizations plan to focus on cloud migration
• 76 percent of organizations use cost efficiency and savings to measure cloud progress

Organizations are taking a centralized approach to cloud:
• 77 percent of enterprises have a central cloud team or cloud center of excellence (CoE)
• 54 percent of cloud teams are responsible for governing infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)/ platform-as-a-service (PaaS) usage and costs
• 63 percent of enterprises reported using cloud managed service providers (MSPs) to manage public cloud use

The Flexera survey found that it remains difficult to map all of the relationships across applications, hardware, and networking devices for each service, especially in a rapidly evolving environment. Just over half of respondents reported understanding application dependencies as the top cloud migration challenge.

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Selected Charts from the Flexera 2021 Cloud Report:

References:

https://info.flexera.com/CM-REPORT-State-of-the-Cloud

https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/news/amazon-microsoft-top-enterprise-public-cloud-spend-flexera-says/2021/03/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2021/02/11/u-s-government-multi-cloud-competition-telus-selects-google-cloud/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2021/02/10/oracele-expands-cloud-portfolio-key-themes-for-cloud-in-2021/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2021/03/01/ibms-cloud-satellite-service-in-generally-available-orbit/