by Jean-Pierre Brulard, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
5G has become the talk of the town, with new uses being trialled and demonstrated seemingly every day.
It might be surgeons conducting surgery on a patient they’re not even in the same town as, never mind the same room. It could be using drones for delivering purchases to people, or foldable phones. Whatever it is, it’s always thrilling to see how people are deploying technology to potentially change our lives. And 5G heralds a seismic shift in everyday life.
Communication service providers (CSPs), the industry making this a reality for enterprises, are at an inflection point. 5G offers huge opportunities; it also requires significant investment, with the likes of Morgan Stanley and McKinsey expecting it to take longer to reach maturity than previous spectrum upgrades.
Delivering differentiated, valuable experiences
So why do it? Because customers want it. If they don’t get it fast and in a manner that suits them, they’ll go somewhere else – either to another operator, or to build their own, as the likes of Volkswagen, Dailmer and BMW have suggested they’ll do.
That’s the crux of the digital era – it doesn’t matter if you’re an enterprise, vendor, CSP, partner or something else; we are all aspiring to deliver new, differentiated and valuable user experiences. It’s the only way any of us will prosper in our sectors, because if we don’t, our customers will walk to a competitor.
How, therefore, do CSPs get around the challenges they face and seize the opportunities of 5G?
Changing the economics of 5G
To quote our CEO, Pat Gelsinger, “What’s needed is a software-driven ‘telco cloud’ architecture, one that can enable CSPs to develop and deploy new services more rapidly while reducing costs…Using a common telco-cloud architecture as the foundation for deploying new services, CSPs are seizing the opportunity to change the economics of 5G by simplifying their infrastructure.”
Telco clouds deliver the cost, agility and scalability benefits of a cloud, tailored to CSP needs. Using a telco cloud foundation, CSPs can connect their existing environments with private, edge and public clouds, giving them a platform to build the next generation applications and services both consumers and enterprises are crying out for.
Who are these CSPs Pat mentions? We’re working with Vodafone to implement a telco cloud globally; live in 15 countries, in more than 50 sites, carrying increasing amounts of subscriber traffic on more than 300 core network functions. It is all part of Vodafone’s strategy to build a network cloud infrastructure that can deliver both current 4G services and be prepared for 5G.
That’s the key – being able to provide for the demands of the day, while laying the groundwork for tomorrow. It’s exactly the same approach that we take with our enterprise cloud offerings. End-users, whether customers or employees, won’t wait for next generation experiences, so any solution needs to be able to be both ready to go and future-proofed.
Our work with the likes of Vodafone is a great achievement. We are demonstrating how we have transformed into a major player in the telecom infrastructure market in just a few years and can help CSPs really make headway as they prepare for 5G.
It’s a position supported by both the media and analysts. A recent Light Reading article said, “VMware’s increasing momentum in the telco cloud runs parallel with increased momentum in the NFV market as a whole, as telcos need to limber up their networks to be 5G-ready.”
Elsewhere, analyst Scott Raynovich hailed VMware as one of the winners of MWC, saying “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.”
More than just a telco issue?
It’s a fantastic endorsement of our strategy, and testament to the work of our telco teams and our vision to provide different sectors with a tailored foundation to support their demands.
But is 5G just a CSP issue? Obviously as end-users we all stand to benefit from 5G rollout, but do we simply wait until that happens? Or is there an opportunity for enterprises to embrace 5G and ready themselves?
It’s a topic I’ll be looking at in greater detail next time. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the impact of 5G and where you think the opportunities lie.