According to market research firm Canalys, cloud infrastructure services continued to be in high demand in Q2 2022. Worldwide cloud spending increased 33% year on year to US$62.3 billion, driven by a range of factors, including demand for data analytics and machine learning, data center consolidation, application migration, cloud-native development and service delivery. The growing use of industry-specific cloud applications also contributed to the broader horizontal use cases seen across IT transformation. The latest Canalys data shows expenditure was over US$6 billion more than in the previous quarter and US$15 billion more than in Q2 2021.
The top three vendors in Q2 2022, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, together accounted for 63% of global spending in Q2 2022 and collectively grew 42%. The key to increasing global market share is continually growing and upgrading cloud data center infrastructure, which all big three cloud service providers are working on.
- AWS accounted for 31% of total cloud infrastructure services spend in Q2 2022, making it the leading cloud service provider. It grew 33% on an annual basis.
- Microsoft Azure was the second largest cloud service provider in Q2, with a 24% market share after growing 40% annually.
- Google Cloud grew 45% in the latest quarter and accounted for an 8% market share.
In the next year, AWS plans to launch 24 new availability zones in eight regions, and Microsoft plans to launch 10 new cloud regions. Google Cloud, which accounted for 8% of Q2 cloud spend, recently announced Latin America expansion plans.
The hyperscale battle between leader AWS and challenger Microsoft Azure continues to intensify, with Azure closing the gap on its rival. Fueling this growth, Microsoft had a record number of larger multi-year deals in both the US$100 million-plus and US$1 billion-plus segments. Microsoft also said it plans to increase the efficiency of its server and network equipment by extending the depreciable useful life from four years to six.
A diverse go-to-market ecosystem, combined with a broad portfolio and wide range of software partnerships is enabling Microsoft to stay hot on the heels of AWS in the race to be #1 in cloud services.
“Cloud remains the strong growth segment in tech,” said Canalys VP Alex Smith. “While opportunities abound for providers large and small, the interesting battle remains right at the top between AWS and Microsoft. The race to invest in infrastructure to keep pace with demand will be intense and test the nerves of the companies’ CFOs as both inflation and rising interest rates create cost headwinds.”
Both AWS and Microsoft are continuing to roll out infrastructure. AWS has plans to launch 24 availability zones across eight regions, while Microsoft plans to launch 10 new regions over the next year. In both cases, the providers are increasing investment outside of the US as they look to capture global demand and ensure they can provide low-latency and high data sovereignty solutions.
Beyond the capacity investments, software capabilities and partnerships will be vital to meet customers’ cloud demands, especially when considering the compute needs of highly specialized services across different verticals.
“Most companies have gone beyond the initial step of moving a portion of their workloads to the cloud and are looking at migrating key services,” said Canalys Research Analyst Yi Zhang. “The top cloud vendors are accelerating their partnerships with a variety of software companies to demonstrate a differentiated value proposition. Recently, Microsoft pointed to expanded services to migrate more Oracle workloads to Azure, which in turn are connected to databases running in Oracle Cloud.”
Canalys defines cloud infrastructure services as those that provide infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service, either on dedicated hosted private infrastructure or shared public infrastructure. This excludes software-as-a-service expenditure directly, but includes revenue generated from the infrastructure services being consumed to host and operate them.
New data from Synergy Research Group shows that Q1 enterprise spending on cloud infrastructure services was approaching $53 billion. That is up 34% from the first quarter of 2021, making it the eleventh time in twelve quarters that the year-on-year growth rate has been in the 34-40% range.
To the surprise of no one, Amazon AWS continues to lead with its worldwide market share remaining at 33%. For the third consecutive quarter its annual growth came in above the growth of the overall market.
Microsoft Azure continues to gain almost two percentage points of market share per year while Google Cloud’s annual market share gain is approaching one percentage point.
In aggregate all other cloud providers have grown their revenues by over 150% since the first quarter of 2018, though their collective market share has plunged from 48% to 36% as their growth rates remain far below the market leaders.
Synergy estimates that quarterly cloud infrastructure service revenues (including IaaS, PaaS and hosted private cloud services) were $52.7 billion, with trailing twelve-month revenues reaching $191 billion. Public IaaS and PaaS services account for the bulk of the market and those grew by 37% in Q1. The dominance of the major cloud providers is even more pronounced in public cloud, where the top three control 71% of the market. Geographically, the cloud market continues to grow strongly in all regions of the world.
“While the level of competition remains high, the huge and rapidly growing cloud market continues to coalesce around Amazon, Microsoft and Google,” said John Dinsdale, a Chief Analyst at Synergy Research Group. “Aside from the Chinese market, which remains totally dominated by local Chinese companies, other cloud providers simply cannot match the scale and geographic reach of the big three market leaders. As Amazon, Microsoft and Google continue to grow at 35-50% per year, other non-Chinese cloud providers are typically growing in the 10-20% range. That can still be an attractive proposition for those smaller providers, as long as they focus on regional or service niches where they can differentiate themselves from the big three.”
Separately, Canalys estimates global cloud infrastructure services spending increased 34% to US$55.9 billion in Q1 2022, as organizations prioritized digitalization strategies to meet market challenges. That was over US$2 billion more than in the previous quarter and US$14 billion more than in Q1 2021.
The top three cloud service providers have benefited from increased adoption and scale, collectively growing 42% year on year and accounting for 62% of global customer spend.
Cloud-enabled business transformation has become a priority as organizations face global supply chain issues, cybersecurity threats and geopolitical instability. Organizations of all sizes and vertical markets are turning to cloud to ensure flexibility and resilience in the face of these challenges.
SMBs, in particular, have driven investment in cloud infrastructure services to support workload migration, data storage services and cloud-native application development. At the same time, infrastructure hardware shortages and the threat of further price inflation has spurred many large enterprises to invest in large-scale, multi-year cloud contracts to lock in upfront discounts with the hyperscalers.
All the major cloud providers have seen a significant increase in order backlogs as a result, which now total several hundred billion dollars worldwide. This in turn is driving the importance of cloud marketplaces as a sales channel for third-party software and security, as businesses seek to burn down these cloud commitments, further fueling infrastructure consumption.
“Cloud has continued to be a hot market and transformation strategies are emphasizing digital resiliency to face the market challenges of today and tomorrow,” said Canalys Research Analyst Blake Murray. “To be effective in resiliency planning, customers are turning to channel partners with the technical and consulting skills to help them effectively embrace hyper-scaler cloud services.”
Top cloud partners are doubling down on certification efforts and skills recruitment around hyper-scaler cloud services.
Global systems integrators, including Accenture, Atos, Deloitte, HCL Technologies, TCS, Kyndryl, Tech Mahindra and Wipro, are building practices with tens of thousands of cloud engineers and consultants. This has also included acquisitions of cloud application development and migration specialists, as well as the launch of new dedicated cloud services brands.
Smaller consultants, resellers, service providers and distributors are pursuing similar strategies as mid-market and SMB customers also demand support with cloud adoption.
“As the use cases for cloud infrastructure services expand so does the potential complexity, and we see that hybrid and multi-cloud deployments are commonplace in the market,” said Canalys Research Analyst Yi Zhang. “The hyperscalers are investing in rapid channel development and partners are responding as the opportunities grow.”
About Synergy Research Group:
Synergy provides quarterly market tracking and segmentation data on IT and Cloud related markets, including vendor revenues by segment and by region. Market shares and forecasts are provided via Synergy’s uniquely designed online database SIA ™, which enables easy access to complex data sets. Synergy’s Competitive Matrix ™ and CustomView ™ take this research capability one step further, enabling our clients to receive on-going quantitative market research that matches their internal, executive view of the market segments they compete in.
Canalys is an independent analyst company that strives to guide clients on the future of the technology industry and to think beyond the business models of the past. We deliver smart market insights to IT, channel and service provider professionals around the world. We stake our reputation on the quality of our data, our innovative use of technology and our high level of customer service.
May 6, 2022 Update from Light Counting:
ICPs (Internet Cloud Providers) have grown spending by double digit rates (year-over-year) for many quarters and Q1 2022 looks like it will be no exception, as the combined spending of Alphabet, Amazon, Meta, and Microsoft increased 29% versus Q1 2021. What is surprising though is that Alphabet, not Meta, showed the fastest growth, with a 65% increase to more than $9.5 billion, a new record. And Alphabet’s big increase was not fueled by spending on infrastructure however, but by the closing of purchases of office facilities in New York, London, and Poland, which the company said added $4 billion to total spending in the quarter. We expect Alphabet’s Q2 capex will return from the stratosphere to the $5 billion range it has been running at. If Alphabet’s real estate spending is removed, Q1 capex for the group of four was up only 15% compared to Q1 2021, at the low end of the typical range for the Top 15 ICPs.
While ICP spending appears on track to continue growing at double-digit rates this year, Q1 revenues were decidedly ‘off’ for the four majors that have reported, with no records set, and two of the four (Amazon and Meta) growing sales by only single-digit growth rates y-o-y.
The Cloud services revenues of Alphabet, Amazon, and Microsoft continued to grow faster than overall company sales, increasing 44%, 37%, and 17% respectively.
Network equipment makers sales growth in Q1 2022 declined by 1% y-o-y in aggregate among the reported companies, but this figure belies the fact that individual company growth rates ranged from strong double-digits (Adtran, ADVA), middling single-digits (Ericsson Networks, Infinera, ZTE), to sales declines (Nokia Networks, Ribbon Communications).
Five Chinese optical transceiver vendors have reported Q1 results, and four of them showed strong growth: HG Tech, Innolight, Accelink, and Eoptolink. CIG was negatively impacted by shutdowns in both Shanghai and Shenzhen, which affected its ability to fulfill orders.
Among U.S.-based optical component makers, Neophotonics reported Q1 2022 revenue of $89 million, up 47% year-over-year, with 400G and above products growing 70% y-o-y to $54 million. The company is now shipping production volumes of 400ZR modules to cloud and data center customers.
Two years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of the COVID mitigation measures continue to disrupt manufacturing, shipping, and sales in the optical industry. Several companies warned that shortages and higher component and shipping costs would persist or even worsen as 2022 progresses. And finally, costs from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and subsequent withdrawals from the Russian telecoms market are starting to become known, ranging from $5 million (Infinera) to 900 million Euro (Ericsson).
Microsoft and Telefonica Tech, Telefonica’s digital business unit, has signed a new deal with Microsoft, to supply confidential hybrid cloud services to public administrations and companies in regulated sectors. The focus will be on monitoring and encryption services to ensure the security and privacy of data in Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Dynamics 365.
- The joint solutions of both companies will enable Spanish public administrations and companies in regulated sectors to respond to the needs of digital sovereignty.
- Telefónica Tech and Microsoft meet the most demanding legal and technical requirements for cloud trust principles, guaranteeing them with Microsoft’s Confidential Computing technology and Telefónica Tech’s cyber threat monitoring and management capabilities.
- Telefónica Tech will provide professional and managed advisory, implementation, and operational services to deploy and operate the cloud services, which will be marketed through Telefónica Empresas.
Under the latest agreement, Microsoft will deliver its privacy safeguards, technologies and certifications. The company has high-level National Security Scheme certification for Azure, Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365 and has made a contractual commitment to legally oppose access to its enterprise and public sector customer data by any government. Microsoft has also announced the EU Data Boundary initiative to allow customers to store and process their personal data within the EU. This commitment applies to Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365 cloud services.
Telefonica Tech will provide consultancy, implementation and operation services that will enable the deployment of maximum security cloud services, guaranteeing compliance with information privacy, quality of service and regulatory compliance requirements at all times. The company will also deliver value-added services, such as the intelligent management of communications and infrastructures or the monitoring and management of cyber threats from its Cybersecurity Operations Centre, with the aim of guaranteeing a rapid and secure adoption of cloud services by the different organisations and institutions. It will in addition offer specialised consulting services for the design, deployment and operation of Big Data platforms on Microsoft Azure Cloud capabilities. Finally, specific services will be supplied to the Defence sector. These will include 5G connectivity services offered by Telefonica with Microsoft cloud services.
All of the services will be implemented in Microsoft’s current cloud environments and will be complemented by the upcoming availability of the new Cloud Region that Microsoft will open in Spain.
Telefonica joined Microsoft and Repsol in June to create an artificial intelligence consortium focused on the industrial sector in Spain.
Telefonica and Microsoft partnered in May to jointly develop private 5G connectivity and on-premises edge computing services for the industrial sector. The partners will now provide public sector organizations, including Defense, with cloud computing and infrastructure services to advance their digital transformation plans, while complying with data protection provisions and recommendations defined by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB).
José Cerdán, CEO of Telefónica Tech, assures: “We believe that the alliance between Microsoft and Telefónica represents a giant step forward in enabling the digital transformation of the public sector and, in general, of the country. The combination of Microsoft’s technology with Telefónica’s service, management and control capabilities guarantees sovereignty and privacy as well as scalability and evolution of infrastructure and citizen services, all with the highest level of quality“.
Alberto Granados, president of Microsoft Spain, remarks: “We at Microsoft have long demonstrated our commitment to meeting and exceeding the data protection requirements of the European Union. This joint value proposition with Telefónica to provide confidential hybrid cloud solutions responds to the needs of digital sovereignty and is evidence that we continue to advance this commitment.”
Regarding this alliance, Carme Artigas, Secretary of State for Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence, points out: “The proposal of confidential public cloud solutions together with hybrid cloud designed specifically for public administrations and companies in regulated sectors in Spain, responds to the important objective of digital sovereignty and constitutes a very relevant advance to accelerate the digitalization of our economy.”
Microsoft was the first hyperscale cloud provider to achieve certification for compliance with the high level of the National Security Scheme in 2016, demonstrating the company’s commitment to delivering cloud products with the highest security requirements. This certification is available for all three Microsoft public clouds: Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365. It has also been the first to provide Confidential Computing services working with Intel and AMD. These Microsoft cloud services add in-use protection to existing protections for data in transit and at rest, ensuring maximum privacy. In addition, the company offers advanced encryption services that complement the base encryption measures, allowing the implementation of encryption systems using keys provided and managed by the customer or a third party, in this case Telefónica, and managed and dedicated hardware security module (HSM) services.
Telefónica Tech, through its capabilities and experience, accelerates the implementation of technology through its Cybersecurity, Cloud, IoT, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain services. It has 12 specialized Digital Operations Centers (DOC) with 24×7 services from where more than 30,000 servers are managed and more than 100 million cybersecurity events per year are monitored. It also has more than 3,000 expert professionals with the highest certifications in cloud services and cybersecurity who serve the Telefónica Group’s 5.5 million B2B customers in 175 countries.
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.
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:
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.”
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.
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.
Sidebar: 5G 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!
“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.
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.
Image credit: Microsoft Azure for Operators
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.”
- 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