Telecom technology integrator Telefónica Tech has signed an agreement with IBM/Red Hat to integrate Red Hat’s OpenShift platform into a new cloud service marketed at enterprises across Telefónica’s footprint in Europe and Latin America.
The integration will be marketed as the Telefónica Red Hat OpenShift Service (TROS), which will tap into the use of containers to help organizations modernize their cloud applications and drive their digital transformation. It will allow those organizations to migrate applications to hybrid cloud or multi-cloud environments using either private or public clouds from hyperscalers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
OpenShift is based on the Kubernetes container orchestration project that allows for the migration of applications across different cloud and on-premises environments. A recent report from TBR Senior Analyst Catie Merrill noted that Red Hat’s OpenShift platform has four-times as many customers as it did before IBM acquired the company for $34 billion in mid-2019.
Red Hat OpenShift differentiates itself by combining multiple hardened open source technologies to provide a more complete modern application platform, enabling organizations to use it as the foundation for current and future IT strategies. Additionally, the use of Red Hat OpenShift allows for use in any type of cloud, facilitating the creation of this Multi-Cloud service for Telefónica Tech.
This new, open hybrid, multi-cloud approach will allow Telefonica Tech to strengthen and differentiate its value proposition, and provide more flexibility to its customers in their digital transformation and application modernization in the markets where Telefónica Tech is present.
The complementary nature of cloud technologies integrated in TROS will enable Telefónica Tech, Red Hat and IBM to jointly define innovative use cases and provide high value-added professional services to customers to help them make the process more efficient, cost-effective and cost-optimal.
The strategic agreement also enables Telefónica Tech to develop additional services on TROS based on Red Hat technologies and IBM Cloud Paks so that customers can accelerate their transformation to cloud-native applications, enabling a more consistent user experience both in their own cloud and on the hyperscalers.
María Jesús Almazor, CEO of Cybersecurity and Cloud at Telefónica Tech, said: “This strategic agreement allows us to strengthen our differential multicloud offer by integrating world class technologies from Red Hat and IBM and consolidate our position as a leading partner for the digital transformation of businesses. We continue to evolve our ecosystem of alliances to enhance the digital capabilities of our professionals and to include in our portfolio the most innovative proposals in the market, fundamental aspects to continue offering the best service to our customers.”
Horacio Morell, IBM General Manager for Spain, Portugal, Greece and Israel: “This alliance enables us to take a quantum leap in our business collaboration with Telefonica Tech to continue co-creating enterprise multi-cloud and cybersecurity solutions that will enable companies around the world, across all industries, to implement their technology transformation strategies with greater speed, consistency and agility, while ensuring data control, privacy and reliability and increasing decision-making efficiency through the unique capabilities of IBM’s technologies.”
Julia Bernal, Country Manager for Spain and Portugal at Red Hat, said: “Red Hat is fully committed to helping our customers and partners optimize their business with open hybrid cloud and focus on innovation rather than simply managing their IT infrastructure. Our mission is to mitigate the complexities of modern cloud-scale IT environments and with managed cloud services they can do just that. Telefónica Red Hat OpenShift Service enables customers to free resources to create and manage applications more quickly across multiple clouds, streamlining time to market and accelerating growth opportunities.”
“It is going to be the way forward and what many customers who want to evolve their business models,” said Santiago Madruga, VP for ecosystem success in EMEA at Red Hat, in an interview with SDxCentral. “When going digital, it’s not just putting workloads on the cloud but really transforming businesses.” Madruga added that the use of OpenShift also allows for the micro-segmentation of application components that will open the door for edge distributed cloud work.
I. Cloud Native Computing Foundation:
Are the ITU, ETSI, IETF SDO’s obsolete with the move to “cloud native” telecom? Maybe so. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation® (CNCF®), which builds sustainable ecosystems for cloud native software, recently announced the addition of 68 new Silver and end user members and end user supporters. These new members will work side by side with over 775 other members to build and use the cloud native technology that is enabling organizations across the world to respond to the challenges of 5G, edge, massive scale, and more.
For sure, “cloud native,” which is recommended by 3GPP for 5G SA core networks, has replaced and knocked out the previously highly touted NFV and SDN which never realized critical market mass, despite outrageous claims that they would usher in a new era/ new epoch and replace all conventional hardware based telecom equipment.
According to the CNCF Annual Survey, 2021 was the year that Kubernetes crossed the chasm, with 96% of organizations who participated in the survey either using or evaluating Kubernetes. Adoption has also increased measurably across CNCF projects, notably by 500% for containerd, 53% for Fluentd, and 43% for Prometheus.
“We have seen an acceleration in new member growth which we can attribute to the maturation and ubiquity of Kubernetes and container technology,” said Priyanka Sharma, executive director of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. “CNCF’s projects have been integral in helping end users like Allianz Direct, Fidelity Investments, and Vodafone respond to pressing and evolving infrastructure challenges. We are thrilled to have so many new members on board to continue our mission to make cloud native computing ubiquitous.”
About the newest Silver Members:
- Airlock covers all functions of modern application security, combining web application and API protection (WAAP) with customer identity management (cIAM) deployable on-premises, in the cloud, or as lightweight security micro gateway, designed specifically for use in container environments.
- Akuity was founded by Argo co-creators Hong Wang and Jesse Suen and is on a mission to help companies modernize their Kubernetes tooling by leveraging Argo, the leading open-source suite of Kubernetes-native application delivery tools.
- Amido is the cloud-native consultancy for better business outcomes.
- Argonaut is the first cloud platform that enables engineers to manage infrastructure and application deployments in one place, focusing on developer experience.
- Automat-IT delivers exceptional CI, CT, CD, DevOps, Cloud services, and 24×7 support, to large enterprises, startups and everything in between, to untangle IT complexities and deploy ‘time to market’ technologies.
- Avisi is a Software Development and Cloud Services Company that offers Managed Services using the Change-mindset, allowing their customers to continuously innovate their mission-critical software.
- Axcelinno is an IT Technology Consultancy and Professional Services company that helps organizations define and implement their DevSecOps adoption and cloud migration.
- Baolande is a listed high-tech corporation founded in 2008, it focuses on providing infrastructure software, intelligent operation and maintenance products and solutions for innovational digitalized business.
- Clastix is a tech company providing a unique blend of products and services to accelerate the Cloud Native revolution, delivered from 100% upstream open-source components.
- CloudCasa by Catalogic is a powerful, cyber-resilient, backup service for protecting Kubernetes workloads, cloud databases, and cloud native applications, that is free to start using.
- Cloud Kinetics (CK) is a leading cloud MSP (managed services provider) with operations in Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Malaysia, Thailand, USA and Germany.
- CloudMatos, pioneering the world of self-governed cloud infrastructure, our solution provides self-healing, awareness, resilience, security, and intelligent remediation to your cloud infrastructure by deploying policy driven governance, security controls, networking controls, and more using IAC or PAC.
- CodeZero allows developers to work on software in a Kubernetes cluster creating parity between their local machine and production.
- Cortex gives organizations visibility into the status and quality of their microservices and helps teams drive adoption of best practices so they can deliver higher quality software.
- CrafterCMS is an open-source, Git-based headless CMS for enterprises that seek faster and easier development of large-scale, content–rich digital experiences such as global personalized websites, customer portals, employee intranets, OTT video, e-commerce, consumer mobile apps, AR/VR, and more.
- Cribl is an observability pipeline company built to reduce, normalize, enrich, and route observability data to where it has the most value.
- DataCore Software delivers the industry’s most flexible, intelligent, and powerful software-defined storage solutions for block, file, object, and container storage, helping more than 10,000 customers worldwide modernize how they store, protect, and access data.
- Daugherty Business Solutions is an advisory services and technology consulting firm delivering results through innovation and technology.
- Era Software observability data management offers modern IT and security organizations the ability to route, ingest, store, and analyze massive amounts of data to get actionable insights in seconds.
- Expert Thinking is a team of industry-certified cloud experts who will partner with your organisation, supporting every stage of your cloud journey – rapidly optimising your use of the ever-changing cloud technology landscape at scale to maximise value and benefit for your organisation.
- Finout‘s cost management platform combines your AWS, K8s, Datadog & Snowflake invoices into one mega bill, enabling an unparalleled view of your cloud spend in minutes with no heavy lifting.
- Fournine is a leading multi-cloud solution provider empowering enterprises’ digital transformation with key cloud native development solutions such as Kubernetes, DevOps, and building and delivering container based applications.
- GienTech is a leading financial digital consulting and software provider based on full stack information technology in the world, moreover, an expert in digital transformation services in key industries.
- Helios is a production-readiness platform that leverages OpenTelemetry to give developers the power to understand, troubleshoot, and test distributed applications, so they can deliver production-ready code faster – and with more confidence.
- Innogrid is Korea’s leading cloud computing solution and service company that supports successful digital transformation based on cloud native environments.
- itopia makes hybrid work easy for software teams by delivering containerized developer environments in a browser, enabling companies to onboard developers fast and prevent exfiltration with precise security controls, and devs to launch spaces with all their tools pre-installed and start coding in seconds.
- KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services with 227,000 outstanding professionals working together to deliver value in 146 countries and territories.
- KSOC is an event-driven SaaS platform built to automatically remediate Kubernetes security risks and enforce least privilege access control across distributed cluster infrastructures.
- Lightlytics empowers teams of all sizes to code and deploy configurations with speed and confidence.
- Lightrun is the world’s first IDE-native developer observability platform, that enables engineering teams to continuously identify and tackle critical issues in live applications without hotfixes, redeployments, or restarts by securely adding read-only logs, metrics, and traces in real-time and on-demand
- mogenius is a code to cloud platform that deploys and runs any application on a fully automated cloud infrastructure by simply connecting to a code repository.
- Mondoo is an easy to use security platform for DevOps and Security practitioners who want to automate manual security processes, find misconfigurations, and improve their security posture.
- Mycelial is the Edge Native platform for distributed, local-first applications.
- NHN Cloud is a leading cloud service provider based in South Korea, offering public, private, and hybrid cloud in various industries with reliable, flexible, and secure services.
- Okteto enables organizations to instantly spin up pre-configured environments in the cloud and start developing within seconds.
- OnGres (“ON postGRES”) is a highly specialized Postgres startup, creators of the Open Source project StackGres, the most advanced platform for running Enterprise Postgres on Kubernetes.
- Orca Security provides instant-on security and compliance for public cloud platforms such as AWS, Azure, and GCP － without the gaps in coverage, alert fatigue, and operational costs of agents or sidecars.
- Oxeye.io delivers an application security testing platform designed for cloud-native apps and modern architectures, offering a contextual, effortless, and comprehensive solution to ensure no vulnerable code ever reaches production.
- Polar Signals is an observability company focusing on continuous profiling, empowering every developer to understand performance measurements down to the source code line number across their entire infrastructure to safe cost on cloud bills, improve performance, and improve the reliability of software.
- Posedio, based in Austria, specialises in the cloud-native journey of enterprise customers in the DACH region, providing deep technical knowledge and hands-on experience in running applications at scale.
- ProfiSea is an Israeli DevOps and Cloud boutique company that implements best practices of GitOps, DevSecOps, Kubernetes-based Cloud environments deployment automation and provides FinOps premium services using a unique AI-based Cloud management platform.
- RNG Technology is a leading cloud native digital acceleration technology partner that provides fully managed & engineered multi-cloud IaaS, BaaS, DRaaS, BCaaS, Kubernetes and DevOps solutions enabling enterprises to rapidly accelerate the delivery of innovative solutions.
- ScaleFlash is a software-defined, cloud native storage for Kubernetes, providing persistent storage for stateful Kubernete under Bare Metal DPU Servers connected with low latency RDMA network to achieve multi-milllion of IOPS performance.
- Scribe makes software trustworthy, by allowing software producers to attest to it and consumers to validate.
- Seekret is an API-first platform that empowers developers with revolutionary eBPF-powered APIOps through automation, governance, and observability.
- Spyderbat provides Linux runtime security, protecting dynamic environments by proactively tracking all user activities by their causal connections to detect and resolve external attacks, misconfigurations, and insider threats.
- Successive Technologies is an Enterprise Cloud Consulting Company that helps you leverage most popular container orchestration with their enterprise-class managed Kubernetes services to make cluster management and integration workflows easy and effective.
- True is an Amsterdam-based Managed Service Provider with 20+ years of experience in hosting scalable SaaS applications.
- Uffizzi is an open-source full-stack preview engine that provides on-demand cloud environments powered by Kubernetes and configured with Docker Compose.
- VNET Group, a leading carrier- and cloud-neutral Internet data center services provider in China, provides hosting and related services, including IDC services, cloud services, and business VPN services.
- Webera has the vision to help innovators build their own platforms by providing DevOps services breaking down silos, improving workflows, and using cloud-native technologies. See what happens when technology gets out of the way.
- Whitestack is delivering unprecedented value to the IT and Telecom industries, changing the existing paradigms by deploying open-source solutions that help Data Centers, Telcos and Corporations to implement hyper-scalable clouds, for mission-critical workloads.
- Wowjoy Technology is dedicated to providing healthcare digital platform construction and data services to governments and medical institutions. All products and applications are developed and served upon cloud native architecture.
- Zoi is a cloud-native IT consulting company that bridges the gap between hidden champions and the latest cloud technology – born in “THE LÄND”, made in the Cloud.
About the newest End User Members:
- Bancolombia: Colombian financial group with 147 years of history that provides financial and non-financial services to more than 20 million clients in Colombia, Panama, El Salvador and Guatemala.
- BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified financial services provider – North America’s 8th largest bank by assets, providing a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers globally.
- Fannie Mae advances equitable and sustainable access to homeownership and quality, affordable rental housing for millions of people across America.
- Lockheed Martin Corporation, headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 114,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products, and services.
- LSEG: Your trusted global financial markets infrastructure and data provider.
- ZenHub helps scaling teams get ship done, with enhanced visibility for software projects, automated agile experiences, and real-team productivity insights.
About the newest End User Supporters:
- BitMEX, founded in 2014, is one of the world’s leading cryptocurrency derivatives exchanges with a fully verified user base and the creator of the Perpetual Swap.
- FATMAP is the leading app for the mountains, featuring thousands of routes and guidebooks, professional terrain tools, national TOPO maps (including a 3D IGN map), and downloadable maps for offline use – it’s everything you need for your next adventure.
- MasterClass‘s mission is to unlock human potential by inspiring a learning lifestyle in everyone.
- TomTom is a geolocation company that provides maps, navigation software, real-time traffic information, and APIs.
- Vermiculus delivers innovative, modern, and high-quality solutions for clearing houses and exchanges all around the world. Leading the way with cloud-based and AI powered microservices.
About the newest Non-Profit Members:
- Cispi‘s goal is to promote cloud computing and open source in Israel.
- The Open Compute Project Foundation (OCP) was initiated in 2011 with a mission to apply the benefits of open source collaboration to hardware and rapidly increase the pace of innovation in, near and around the data center’s networking equipment, general purpose and GPU servers, storage devices and appliances, and scalable rack designs, and now being applied to advance the telecom industry & EDGE infrastructure.
- CNCF Newsletter
- CNCF Twitter
- CNCF Blog
- Learn About CNCF Membership
- Learn About CNCF End User Supporters
- Join the CNCF conversation on Slack
About Cloud Native Computing Foundation
Cloud native computing empowers organizations to build and run scalable applications with an open source software stack in public, private, and hybrid clouds. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) hosts critical components of the global technology infrastructure, including Kubernetes, Prometheus, and Envoy. CNCF brings together the industry’s top developers, end users, and vendors, and runs the largest open source developer conferences in the world. Supported by more than 500 members, including the world’s largest cloud computing and software companies, as well as over 200 innovative startups, CNCF is part of the nonprofit Linux Foundation. For more information, please visit www.cncf.io.
II. ABI Research did an in-depth and objective evaluation of the telco cloud platforms offered by eleven 5G Telco Cloud-Native Platform players. The companies are evaluated in the following order of ranking:
- Market Leaders: VMware, Red Hat
- Mainstream: Nokia, ZTE, Canonical, Huawei, Google, Ericsson, Wind River
- Followers: AWS, Microsoft Azure
“CSPs are looking to enable cloud-native 5G capabilities through the deployment of a horizontal platform that can span their entire network from the core to RAN to edge. Some of the key criteria that CSPs are looking for include the ability to build a multi-vendor network and avoid vendor lock-in. As the 5G SBA value proposition revolves around providing services on-demand through microservices and cloud-native principles, flexibility, agility, and scalability become major factors CSPs look out for when choosing a platform,” says Kangrui Ling, Industry Analyst at ABI Research.
VMware and Red Hat are assessed as leaders in the market, with VMware coming out on top due to their strong multi-vendor Network Function (NF) partnership program supporting more than 220 NFs. Red Hat follows closely behind with their Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform and hybrid cloud and multi-cloud capabilities. Both providers are also top innovators, with VMware offering a variety of telco-specific features, including RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC), SD-WAN, and orchestrators, while Red Hat offers auto-scaling of clusters and zero-touch provisioning through solutions such as Red Hat Advanced Cluster Management for Kubernetes, Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform, and Operator Lifecycle Manager (OLM).
“Cloud native is critical for telco applications in 5G, and is crucial in bringing automation, scale, performance, efficient operations, faster time to market, an improved CI/CD pipeline, and the easy introduction of new software and features. Newer trends are also emerging which include multi-vendor capabilities and hybrid cloud/multi cloud support as networks become more open and disaggregated,” concludes Ling.
These findings are from ABI Research’s 5G Telco Cloud-Native Platforms competitive ranking report. This report is part of the company’s 5G Core & Edge Networks research service, which includes research, data, and ABI Insights. Competitive Ranking reports offer comprehensive analysis of implementation strategies and innovation, coupled with market share analysis, to offer unparalleled insight into a company’s performance and standing in comparison to its competitors.
About ABI Research:
ABI Research is a global technology intelligence firm delivering actionable research and strategic guidance to technology leaders, innovators, and decision makers around the world. Our research focuses on the transformative technologies that are dramatically reshaping industries, economies, and workforces today.
NEC Corp. expanded its collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in areas that include global 5G, digital government, and hybrid cloud in support of accelerating digital transformation for business customers.
In November 2020, NEC and AWS concluded a corporate-level strategic collaboration agreement and have been developing offerings and strengthening delivery functionalities since then. NEC will now expand this collaboration and strengthen efforts in the following areas: global 5G, digital government, and hybrid cloud as follows:
1. Global 5G
NEC aims to develop an end-to-end 5G offering and to provide it globally by combining NEC’s high-performance cloud-native open 5G mobile core, OSS/BSS solutions, local 5G use cases etc., and AWS cloud and edge solutions. NEC will accelerate telecom carriers’ cloudification of network workloads and enhance digital transformation for enterprises by deploying 5G-based infrastructure and applications at the network edge. This combined solution stack will be supported by NEC’s system integration services to enable customers to efficiently deploy and scale 5G networks, enhance automation and drive significant improvement in operational economics.
2. Digital government
NEC has been certified as an AWS Government Competency Partner based on the strategic collaboration that started last year and its achievements for governments to date. Going forward, NEC will further strengthen its relationship with AWS and focus on developing and providing a menu of offerings to accelerate the digital transformation for government activities in Japan.
3. Hybrid cloud
By collaborating with AWS, NEC aims to develop and provide a menu of offerings that connects on-premises and cloud environments securely, at high speed, and with low latency. This will contribute to the acceleration of digital transformation through modernization that utilizes the customer’s existing information technology (IT) assets.
To accelerate these initiatives, the NEC Group has increased the number of AWS-certified engineers to 2,000 at present, aiming for 3,000, double the number from the start of collaboration in 2020, and firmly maintains one of Japan’s largest delivery capabilities for cloud projects. Going forward, NEC will continue to strengthen these positions and to ensure that it responds to customers’ digital transformation demands.
NEC also intends to enhance its hybrid cloud offering with support from AWS, providing services that connect both on-premises and cloud environments in order to support enterprise digital transformation strategies. NEC has already been building up expertise in this field. The Japanese IT vendor has increased the number of AWS-certified engineers to 2,000, up from 1,500 in November 2020, and is aiming for 3,000 in three years. Furthermore, NEC has been certified as an AWS Government Competency Partner and said it will focus on “developing and providing a menu of offerings to accelerate the digital transformation for government activities in Japan.”
Comments from both companies on this collaboration are as follows:
“NEC is pleased to announce the expansion of its strategic collaboration with AWS. Last year, NEC announced this global collaboration as the first of its kind between AWS and a Japanese company. It has been a great year, seeing many successes in the areas of government, modernization and in the skill enhancement of NEC engineers. NEC is now expanding the collaboration with AWS in the areas of global 5G, digital government and in enhanced hybrid cloud offerings. With the strong global support from AWS, NEC will help drive digital transformation in the government sector and across industries as part of orchestrating a brighter world,” says Toshifumi Yoshizaki, Executive Vice President at NEC Corporation.
“We are delighted to deepen our relationship with NEC. AWS welcomes NEC’s commitment and delivery of solutions built on AWS to deliver high-quality solutions that accelerate customers’ digital transformations. We look forward to NEC’s continued expansion of offerings and further expansion of delivery capabilities to optimize these transformations,” says Doug Yeum, Global Head of Alliances & Channels at Amazon Web Services, Inc.
NEC and its Netcracker subsidiary have already deployed their 5G core and full stack digital BSS/OSS on AWS cloud infrastructure to orchestrate and automate 5G digital services. The service was demonstrated at Mobile World Congress 2021, when NEC deployed its 5G core control plane on an AWS Region and its 5G UPF on an AWS Outposts’ edge location.
Other NEC cloud related partnerships:
- NEC’s collaboration with Rakuten Mobile, Japan’s disruptive open RAN and cloud-native 4G/5G wireless service provider, has certainly raised its open RAN and 5G Core profile. In May, Rakuten Mobile signed MoUs with Fujitsu and NEC to try and accelerate “global expansion” of Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP).
- In June, NEC and Rakuten Mobile said they would jointly develop the containerized standalone (SA) 5G core network (5GC) to be utilized in Rakuten Mobile’s fully virtualized cloud native 5G network.
- Later in June, Rakuten Mobile, NEC and Intel announced that they have achieved a performance of 640 Gbps per server for the containerized User Plane Function (UPF) on the containerized 5G SA core network jointly developed by Rakuten Mobile and NEC running on the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP).
- In July, NEC expanded its “multi-year strategic partnership” with Microsoft whereby NEC adopted Microsoft Azure as its preferred cloud platform provider. (But now it’s in bed with AWS?)
- In August, NEC announced a collaboration with Fujitsu on interoperability testing for 5G base stations that conform to specifications from the O-RAN Alliance.
About NEC Corporation:
NEC Corporation has established itself as a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies while promoting the brand statement of “Orchestrating a brighter world.” NEC enables businesses and communities to adapt to rapid changes taking place in both society and the market as it provides for the social values of safety, security, fairness and efficiency to promote a more sustainable world where everyone has the chance to reach their full potential. For more information, visit NEC at https://www.nec.com.
To view and hear the comments from Toshifumi Yoshizaki, Executive Vice President at NEC Corporation and Matt Garman, Senior Vice President at Amazon Web Services Inc (pictured above), please visit: https://www.nec.com/en/press/202109/global_20210908_01.html
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.”
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:
- 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).
- Create a clear migration plan: it should include your goals, costs estimates, timelines, services and technology to use, etc.
- Choose a VNF migration strategy: define which network functions need to remain as VMs and which can be re-architected as cloud-native microservices.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.