In March, Twimbit collaborated with F5 Networks, for the Asia Pacific Telecom Summit 2021: The Next Frontier. James Feger, General Manager – Service Providers, F5 Networks, discussed the impact of cloud, edge, and 5G on service provider innovation with regional thought leaders from Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Axiata Group, and Telekom Malaysia. Here is a quick summary of the key messages from Feger.
‘When the world shifted the way work got done, and people needed to stay home to be safe, the telcos were there. We largely didn’t miss a beat.’ -James Feger, General Manager- Service Providers, F5 Networks
In the telecom industry, the speed at which a company rolls out new services and offerings becomes the key differentiator in establishing its success. Cloud is that enabler for speed. Globally, telecom service providers are using the cloud to:
- Reduce operational costs
- Enable infrastructure scalability
- Improve speed to market or speed for service rollouts
- Launch scalable digital services
Cloud and cloud-native platforms are seen as prime technologies to help telecom operators with their internal digital transformations. These cloud-based solutions reflect the evolution of telecoms from traditional communications service providers to digital ones. Telecom operators now offer multiple digital services through various digital channels to their customers. Cloud migrations help telecom operators tap into numerous emerging opportunities in areas such as AR/VR, IoT, and managed services, among others.
These are four of the many cloudification benefits that will encourage telecom companies to shift their foothold to cloud and cloud-native platforms:
- Faster service, product deployment, or activation
- Higher resilience in operations
- Increased flexibility to test, run, and scale applications
- Cost savings with pooling, reusability, and modularity in resource utilisation
Five key takeaways from Feger:
1. Cloud is now on-par and at parity with on-premise deployments
Telco cloud is gaining traction across all major group operators globally. The year 2020 accelerated the concept of having a common infrastructure on the cloud platform. Cloud migration efforts of telecom operators are primarily driven by virtualisation of the mobile core network and infrastructure as they responded to the surge in mobile data traffic growth. Cloudification of networks has turned into a necessity with 5G.
2. Telecommunication providers must take a pragmatic approach with cloud-native technologies
The use of cloud-native technologies for telecom workloads is becoming more mature with the expectations that telecom operators will deploy certain technologies, such as containers, more aggressively in 2021. The move towards standalone 5G networks will largely drive this deployment, where the industry will benefit from the shift to cloud-native. While networks are modernising with cloud-native technologies such as containers, not everything can be containerised. The requirements of telecommunications networks are extreme, and the telecom operators must take a pragmatic approach as they introduce cloud-native, assessing its business case in doing so.
If you find yourself sacrificing too much just to say it’s in a container, it’s probably too soon. – James Feger, General Manager- Service Providers, F5 Networks
3. EDGE and private cloud are more critical for telecoms in today’s context
Two key objectives that telecom operators aim to achieve with cloud deployments are operational efficiencies and speed to service. Where public cloud infrastructure is fine for non-network workload, telecom operators usually seek more flexibility in terms of deployment location when it comes to network workload.
Telecom operators should leverage their footprint and existing infrastructure to evaluate the cloud, particularly for EDGE deployments. Their proximity to the user edge gives them an advantage as telecom operators build their EDGE platforms. Eventually, telecom operators should look at evolving the said edge platforms into multi-user or multi-tenant platforms as a source to strengthen future revenue streams.
4. Convergence of technologies are bringing IT and Network teams together, driving operational efficiencies
The convergence of technologies facilitates the partnership of the network and the IT team in every organisation by driving innovation around applications, security, API, and microservices. Leaderships of both teams are running parallel to achieve common goals, objectives, and provide unique solutions.
5. Compete and partner to win in the cloud
Telecom service providers earlier used to partner with companies and operators to share their network, data, voice, and messaging services through a wholesale agreement. However, in a modern era for sustainable operations of both 4G and adjacent services, and now the deployment of 5G, partnerships should develop by automating processes, bringing in operational and cost efficiencies and new product development.