There is no doubt that the cloud providers are all vying for a piece of the telco market. With QuickTake: Mobile World Congress coming up, it was interesting to see how each company is trying to capture this market. AWS jumped ahead by announcing its news a week early, while Microsoft detailed its new features for telco’s using Azure cloud services. All of these offerings focus on four areas: network transformation, automation and AI, network-aware applications and ubiquity from cloud to edge. Clearly, these companies think that telco’s are ripe for disruption and they will do whatever it takes to grab hold of this growing market.
Microsoft is looking to partner with the telecommunications industry to bring modern connected applications to a wider audience. The company believes that the future hyperscale cloud will look a lot different than the cloud we have today and that it will be powered by a modern network infrastructure. This intelligent cloud, this intelligent edge, has the potential to unleash innovations in many fields, including business and transportation.
Azure Operator Nexus is designed to help telcos modernize and monetize their existing infrastructure, something that Microsoft believes will drive a lower total cost of ownership for its partners. By running carrier-grade workloads both on-premises and on Azure, Nexus offers promise for transforming how these companies do business.
The adoption of the Azure Operator Nexus platform by AT&T signals a significant shift in the way that network operators will build and operate their networks. By leveraging the power of AI, network operators can simplify operations and improve efficiency, which will ultimately help them lower costs and faster deploy new technologies.
In many ways, Microsoft’s Azure long-term cloud strategy bears similarities to its past ventures into the telecom space. Like its attempts to bring Windows NT and Office to the enterprise and consumer markets outside of established competitors, Microsoft is now looking to provide a comprehensive platform for applications across many industries. Azure also represents a concerted effort by Microsoft to extend its reach beyond customers who are already invested in the company’s products and services, attempting to attract new businesses as well as gain market share from incumbents.
Azure Communications Gateway allows Teams users to connect to mobile and fixed networks, making it easier for them to stay connected. Azure Operator Voicemail allows operators to migrate their voicemail services from on-premises infrastructure into Azure, which will provide them with increased manageability and reliability.
Microsoft is serious about providing its customers with actionable insights about their networks, so it has launched two new AI-based services aimed at helping operators diagnose and troubleshoot issues. Azure Operator Insights uses machine learning to help operators analyze the massive amounts of data they gather from their network operations, while Azure Operator Service Manager helps operators generate insights about their network configurations. These tools could be incredibly helpful for both large and small organizations who rely on networks to function effectively.
Microsoft is spearheading a movement to build network-aware applications, in order to manage quality of service for autonomous cars and other Next Generation Flying Vehicles. This requires collaboration between carriers and developers, as no developer will create a service that only works on one network. Project Camara, spearheaded by the Linux Foundation and involving Microsoft, Google Cloud, IBM, Ericsson, Intel and others aims to create an open API standard so that developers can easily integrate support for different networks.
Azure’s Private 5G Core is a scalable, multi-tenant edge computing platform that supports the latest 5G technologies and mobile deployments. Azure MEC is Microsoft’s offering for connecting and orchestrating devices in the edge environment for increased performance, security, and autonomy. With these services available, businesses can start to build their own private networks for accelerated deployment of 5G applications.