Verizon starts private 5G mobile edge services with Microsoft Azure cloud

Verizon announced the availability of an on-premises, private edge compute service with Microsoft Azure, building on their collaboration formed last year. Verizon 5G Edge with Microsoft Azure Stack Edge is a cloud computing platform that brings compute and storage services to the edge of the network at the customer premises. This should provide enterprises with increased efficiencies, higher levels of security, and the low lag and high bandwidth needed for applications involving computer vision, augmented and virtual reality, and machine learning, Verizon said.  Here are the highlights:

  • Through its relationship with Microsoft, Verizon is now offering businesses an on-premises, private edge compute solution that enables the ultra-low latency needed to deploy real-time enterprise applications.
  • Solution leverages Verizon 5G Edge with Microsoft Azure Stack Edge to bring compute and storage services to the edge of the network at the customer premises, providing increased efficiencies, higher levels of security, and the low lag and high bandwidth needed for applications involving computer vision, augmented and virtual reality, and machine learning. 
  • Ice Mobility has used Verizon 5G Edge with Microsoft Azure to help with computer vision-assisted product packing to improve on-site quality assurance. The company is now exploring additional 5G Edge applications that provide tangible, material automation enhancements to its business, such as near real-time activity-based costing.

Some of the applications possible with the on-site 5G and edge computing include in-shop information processing in near real time to help retailers manage inventory, or factory data processing and analytics to minimize downtime and gain visibility across manufacturing processes.

Logistics company Ice Mobility has used Verizon 5G Edge with Azure Stack Edge to help with computer vision-assisted product packing to improve on-site quality assurance. The company is exploring additional 5G applications that leverage initial computer vision and 5G edge investments to provide automation enhancements, such as near real-time activity-based costing. This would allow the company to assign overhead and indirect costs to specific customer accounts, pick and pack lines, and warehouse activities to enhance efficiencies and improve competitiveness.

“This announcement aligns with IDC’s view that an on-premises, private 5G edge compute deployment model will spur the growth of compelling 4th generation industrial use cases,” said Ghassan Abdo, Research VP at IDC. “This partnership is a positive development as it leverages the technology and communications leadership of both companies.”

“Our partnership with Microsoft brings 5G Edge to enterprises, dropping latency at the edge, helping critical, performance-impacting applications respond more quickly and efficiently,” said Sampath Sowmyanarayan, Chief Revenue Officer of Verizon Business. “5G is ushering in next-generation business applications, from core connectivity to real-time edge compute and new applications and solutions that take advantage of AI transforming nearly every industry.”

“Business innovation demands powerful technology solutions and central to this is the intersection between the network and edge” said Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president Azure for Operators at Microsoft. “Through our partnership with Verizon, we are providing customers with powerful compute and storage service capabilities at the edge of customers’ networks, enabling robust application experiences with increased security.”

Verizon offers a similar service with Amazon Web Services (AWS which provides private multi-access edge computing (Private MEC) for enterprises. Private MEC integrates edge computing infrastructure with private networks deployed on or near the customer’s premises.

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References:

https://www.verizon.com/about/node/921923

Watch this video to learn more about how Ice Mobility is using Verizon 5G Edge. Learn more information about Verizon 5G Edge and Verizon’s 5G technology

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/verizon-starts-on-site-5g-edge-services-for-azure-private-cloud–1395486

Amazon AWS and Verizon Business Expand 5G Collaboration with Private MEC Solution

Google Cloud revenues up 54% YoY; Cloud native security is a top priority

Google Cloud revenues increased 54% year over year to $4.62 billion during the second quarter of 2021, parent company Alphabet reported today. Google Cloud’s operating loss shrunk 59%, from $1.42 billion a year ago to $591 million last quarter.

Google Cloud includes both Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and its Workspace (formerly G Suite) cloud computing services and collaboration tools.

Like previous quarters, “GCPs revenue growth was, again, above cloud overall, reflecting significant growth in both infrastructure and platform services,” the company said in a statement.

“As for Google Cloud, we remain focused on revenue growth, and are pleased with the trends we’re seeing across cloud,” Google CFO Ruth Porat said on the company’s 2Q-2021 earnings call today. Porat added that growth in its Google Cloud Platform segment again surpassed overall cloud gains “reflecting significant growth in both infrastructure and platform services.”

“We will continue to invest aggressively, including expanding our go-to-market organization, our channel expansion, our product offerings, and our compute capacity,” she said.

Also on today’s earnings call, Google CEO Sundar Pichai cited security as a competitive differentiator and “our strongest product portfolio.”  Google will continue to invest in security and continue its work to integrate its various security products such as Beyond Corp and Chronicle, he added.

“Cyber threats increasingly are on the mind of not just CIOs but CEOs across our partners. So it’s definitely an area where we are seeing a lot of conversations, a lot of interest…so a definite source of strength and you’ll see us continue to invest here,” he said.

“We are cloud native, we pioneered … zero trust and built the architecture out from a security-first perspective.  Particularly, over the course of the last couple of years, with the recent attacks, [companies] really started thinking deeply about vulnerabilities, supply chain security has been a major source of consensus, cyber threats are increasingly on the mind of, not just CIOs, but CEOs across our partners. So it’s definitely an area where we are seeing a lot of conversations, a lot of interest.”

Google Cloud, along with its other business units, boosted  Alphabet’s revenue 62% year over year, to $61.9 billion. As usual, Google ad revenue represented the biggest piece of the pie. It grew 69% to $50.44 billion.  Retail was the biggest contributor to advertising growth.

Google Cloud holds around 7% market share in the cloud services segment, according to a Canalys report released in April 2021. It trails Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, which hold 32% and 19% market share, respectively.

Microsoft posted financial results Tuesday, its Intelligent Cloud revenue increased 30% to $17.4 billion. The company stated Azure revenue grew of 51%, but did not break out a dollar figure. Amazon is set to report earnings on Thursday.

Along with their hyper-scale cloud competitors Google Cloud is partnering with telecom companies all over the world to help them drive transformation and accelerate 5G adoption and monetization.

Here are a few of their telco partners:

 

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References:

https://abc.xyz/investor/static/pdf/2021Q2_alphabet_earnings_release.pdf?cache=4db52a1

https://abc.xyz/investor/

https://www.fiercetelecom.com/financial/google-cloud-revenue-climbs-54-q2

https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/news/google-cloud-losses-shrink-59-revenue-hits-4-6b/2021/07/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/tag/google-cloud/

https://cloud.google.com/solutions/telecommunications

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?

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

AT&T will run its 5G SA Core network on Microsoft’s Azure public cloud computing platform.  Microsoft AZURE, which is the second largest cloud computing provider by revenue behind rival Amazon Web Services, has been building out specific cloud computing offering to attract carriers.  AT&T is Microsoft’s first major deal in the 5G SA Core network space.

The two giant companies said that Microsoft will purchase software and intellectual property developed by AT&T to help build out its offerings for carriers. The companies did not disclose the terms of the deals, but said that Microsoft will make job offers to several hundred AT&T Network Cloud engineers.

Microsoft will use AT&T’s software and IP to grow its telecom flagship offering, Azure for Operators. Microsoft is acquiring AT&T’s carrier-grade Network Cloud platform technology, which AT&T’s 5G core network (when completed) will run on.

The companies disclosed a few key details about their new deal, but did not provide any firm numbers or any financial arrangements/guidance:

  • Microsoft will “assume responsibility for both software development and deployment of AT&T’s Network Cloud immediately,” according to the companies, and will transition AT&T’s existing network cloud operations into Azure over the next three years. Eventually, all of AT&T’s mobile network traffic will run over Microsoft’s Azure.
  • The effort will start with AT&T’s 5G core, but will eventually include virtually all of the company’s network operations, including its 4G core.
  • Microsoft will be the company to certify all of AT&T’s software-powered network operations for inclusion in the AT&T network. That will include software from other vendors. AT&T has not yet named its 5G core network vendors.
  • Microsoft will acquire AT&T’s Network Cloud technology – including its AT&T engineering and lifecycle management software – and its cloud-network operations team. The companies did not disclose exactly how many AT&T employees that transaction might cover, but an AT&T official suggested it will be in the “low hundreds.” Microsoft will then incorporate AT&T’s intellectual property into its Azure for Operators offering, which is for sale to other 5G network operators.
  • Microsoft and AT&T did not provide the logistics of their deal, including exactly how many Azure computing locations might be necessary to power AT&T’s network. It’s an important issue considering AT&T’s cellular network spans an estimated 70,000 cell towers across the country, and the operation of the radios on top of those towers might eventually be handled by programs running inside of Microsoft’s cloud. A top Microsoft executive involved in the deal told Light Reading that Microsoft’s Azure software will be installed into some of AT&T’s existing computing locations. Several of those compute server locations are staffed by AT&T technicians.
  • AT&T said the company plans to continue to run its network workloads inside of its own data centers and facilities. However, AT&T added that the deal today is focused on AT&T’s 5G core network and that the companies might explore additional elements of the network such as Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) technology over the course of the agreement.

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Sidebar5G SA Core networks to run on cloud service provider platforms:

  • In late April, Dish Network made a similar deal to have Amazon run its 5G core network on AWS.
  • In late May, Telefónica said it had validated AWS Outposts as option for 5G SA core deployment in Brazil.
  • Earlier this week, TIM said it was building its 5G SA Core network on “Google’s cloud solutions” (whatever that means?)

Do you think the cloud service providers will essentially take over the implementation, operations, and maintenance of 5G SA Core networks, especially since they will likely all be “cloud native.”  Please post a comment in the box below this article to express your opinion and why.  Thanks!

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“This deal is not exclusive, so I fully expect Azure will try to assert itself as the telecom cloud provider for many carriers around the world,” said Roger Entner of Recon Analytics LLC.

“It’s the first time a Tier One operator has trusted their existing consumer subscriber base to hyper-scaler technology,” Microsoft’s Shawn Hakl, VP of the company’s 5G strategy, told Light Reading. Before joining Microsoft in 2020, Hakl was a longtime Verizon executive.

The deal follows a $2 billion agreement in 2019 in which AT&T said it would start using Microsoft’s cloud for software development and other tasks. At that time, AT&T said it would continue to run its core networking functions in its own private data centers.

Andre Fuetsch, AT&T’s chief technology officer, said that shifting to a public cloud vendor will let AT&T take advantage of a larger ecosystem of software developers who are working on technologies such as wringing more use out of pricey 5G spectrum or creating new features for users.  “That’s what we at AT&T want to do, and we think working with Microsoft gives us that advantage,” Fuetsch told Reuters in an interview.

“AT&T has one of the world’s most powerful global backbone networks serving hundreds of millions of subscribers. Our Network Cloud team has proved that running a network in the cloud drives speed, security, cost improvements and innovation. Microsoft’s decision to acquire these assets is a testament to AT&T’s leadership in network virtualization, culture of innovation, and realization of a telco-grade cloud stack,” said Andre Fuetsch, executive vice president and chief technology officer, AT&T. “The next step is making this capability accessible to operators around the world and ensuring it has the resources behind it to continue to evolve and improve. And do it securely. Microsoft’s cloud expertise and global reach make them the perfect fit for this next phase.”

Microsoft intends to use the newly acquired technology – plus the experience gained helping AT&T run the network – to build out a product it calls Azure for Operators, which it will use to pursue 5G core network business from telecommunications companies in the 60 regions of the world where it operates.

“I think we’re going to have operators around the planet that are quite interested in that,” Jason Zander, executive vice president of Microsoft Azure, said in an interview.  On the AT&T website, Zander said: “With Azure, operators can provide a more flexible and scalable service model, save infrastructure cost, and use AI to automate operations and differentiate customer offerings.  Through our collaboration with AT&T, Microsoft will expand its telecom portfolio to support operators with a carrier-grade cloud that provides seamless experiences across Microsoft’s cloud and the operator’s network.”
According to the GSMA, operators are expected to spend $900 billion worldwide between 2021 and 2025 in mobile capital expenditures (CapEx), roughly 80% of which will be in 5G and much of it could run on cloud infrastructure. Operators moving to the cloud can save on hardware and development, benefit from cloud-enabled automation and data analytics, and manage real-time responses and peak traffic on demand. The delivery of new services can be accelerated through cloud-driven AI and IoT.
Post MWC comment by Iain Morris of Light Reading:
“AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud muscled into the sector, promising innovation and cost savings for their debt-ridden (telco) clients.”
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AT&T’s Cost Cutting Continues:
In 2020, AT&T announced a cost-cutting program aimed at trimming $6 billion from its budget by 2023. Part of that effort includes an “IT rationalization” that involves eliminating unneeded applications and moving other applications into the cloud.  With its new Microsoft Azure deal, AT&T said it hopes to “substantially reduce engineering and development costs.” However, the companies haven’t provided a firm cost-savings estimate for AT&T’s 5G SA Core network running on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.  One would think that would have financial implications for both companies.
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Addendum —  Cloud Service Providers led by Amazon and Microsoft:
John Dinsdale, a Chief Analyst at Synergy Research Group, said: “Amazon and Microsoft tend to overshadow the market, with Amazon share staying at well over 30% and Microsoft growing its share from 10% to 20% over 16 quarters. However, after excluding those two, the rest of the market is still growing by over 30% per year, pointing to growth opportunities for many of the smaller cloud providers.”
“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in computer capabilities, increasingly sophisticated enterprise applications and an explosion in the amount of data being generated and processed,” he added.
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References:

https://news.microsoft.com/2021/06/30/att-to-run-its-mobility-network-on-microsofts-azure-for-operators-cloud-delivering-cost-efficient-5g-services-at-scale/

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/industries/telecommunications/

https://about.att.com/story/2021/att_microsoft_azure.html

https://www.reuters.com/business/media-telecom/att-run-core-5g-network-microsofts-cloud-2021-06-30/

https://www.lightreading.com/the-core/atandt-to-offload-5g-into-microsofts-cloud/d/d-id/770600?

https://www.lightreading.com/service-provider-cloud/atandt-has-locked-itself-into-risky-affair-with-microsoft/a/d-id/770608?

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-30/at-t-agrees-to-outsource-its-5g-network-to-microsoft-s-azure

O2 UK and Microsoft to test MEC in a Private 5G Network

UK mobile network operator O2 (Telefónica UK)  has partnered with Microsoft to test the benefits of on-premise Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) within a Private 5G network, with a focus on low latency and security.

The MEC Proof of Concept (PoC) involves technology running on Microsoft Azure, which will be the first Azure deployment using a UK Private 5G network. It is  designed to support secure data management, with all confidential data staying on premises at all times.

O2 (Telefónica UK) will provide Secure 5G Network capabilities and various Industry 4.0 applications. The computing service will be delivered via Azure Private Edge Zones, bringing compute, intelligence and storage to the edge where data is created. O2 and Microsoft will also support start-ups in developing new 5G solutions through the ‘Microsoft for Startups’ program.

O2 recently announced it had launched a Private 5G Network initiative with Leonardo, a global high technology company in the Aerospace, Defence & Security sector. This trial with Microsoft will be similar, however will involve MEC to broaden the use cases and benefits.

Jo Bertram, MD of Business at O2, said, “We’re incredibly proud of our track record of supporting business partners with innovative network solutions. This particular trial with the Microsoft Azure platform will provide secure and superfast capabilities that will maximise productivity and efficiency, as well as peace of mind. We pride ourselves on having a secure 5G network and being champions of coverage and reliability, as recognised in industry awards.”

Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president, Azure for Operators at Microsoft, said: “Through our collaboration with O2, we will enable enterprises to leverage 5G to unlock new scenarios that accelerate digital transformation within their own private, on-premises environments. Combining Azure technology with O2 services is critical to bringing MEC to the enterprise edge, and we look forward to seeing customers leverage this platform to drive innovation across a broad range of information and operational technology applications.”

Key Deliverables:

  • O2 partners with Microsoft to trial the benefits of on premise Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) within a Private 5G Network, focusing on security and low latency
  • The Proof of Concept (PoC) aims to pave the way for secure data management, enabling confidential information to stay on premises at all times
  • Technology will be run via the Microsoft Azure platform, its first deployment utilizing a UK Private 5G Network

References:

O2 partners with Microsoft to develop Mobile Edge Computing capability within a Private 5G Network

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/o2-uk-microsoft-partner-to-test-mec-in-a-private-5g-network–1383718