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Going beyond 5G hype with the telco cloud
This year’s MWC was all about 5G. From 5G enabled devices, to potential early network rollouts to certain US cities in the coming month, it seemed there wasn’t a moment that didn’t have a next generation network angle to it. If last year’s event was about the theory, then this year definitely felt like it was the start of the practical application of the technology.
There is always a danger, of course, of the hype of a big event like MWC becoming anticlimactic as the dust settles. This can sometimes be the case where the technology that gets everyone excited is actually just the next step. That isn’t true for 5G. As Åsa Tamsons, the head of new businesses at Ericsson said in an article on CNN, said “It’s not another G.”
Communication service providers (CSPs) have long understood this. For them, it’s hugely exciting – from upgrading capacity to delivering new services and innovations. With the combination of 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Edge computing, they now have an amazing opportunity that was unimaginable just a couple of years ago. It’s all been made possible by what VMware’s Shekar Ayyar describes as “an underlying technology convergence that’s accelerating across multiple dimensions, including the unification of wireline and wireless, network and IT, private and public (hybrid), along with telco and edge clouds.”
However, to seize that chance requires a different approach from before. In a piece on LinkedIn, our CEO Pat Gelsinger talked about how CSPs “must become more responsive to evolving customer demands and market dynamics. At the same time, they must address key issues that arise with 5G including cost, security and manageability.”
How do they achieve that? By harnessing the cost, agility and scalability of cloud environments, using architecture designed specifically for CSPs. It’s something we’re calling the telco cloud, and it will allow CSPs to unite their networks and IT infrastructure to build and deliver new applications and services for both consumers and organisations.
This isn’t a theoretical approach, but one that’s already being put to use by the likes of Vodafone, which is using our telco cloud to become the world’s first operator to connect 5G-enabled smartphones to its 5G network.
It’s a move that has been applauded by analysts, with industry expert Scott Raynovich labelling VMware a winner in his recent Fierce Telecom round up of MWC’s winners and losers. He said “With its integration of software-defined wide-area-network player VeloCloud, which it acquired, VMware now has a strong story to tie together networks across clouds and across carrier networks, providing secure virtual infrastructure for 5G. This will be a story to watch.”
It’s true that much needs to happen before we see the full adoption of 5G, and like any new technology there are challenges to overcome. However, if the right foundations are in place, it really will, as Tamsons says “have the same impact as electricity, silicon and steam had in the previous industry revolutions.” A story to watch indeed.