5G cloud

5G cloud, let’s demystify it: Part I

What do we mean by the cloud? What are the different types of cloud environments? What parts of a telco business and network can be moved to the cloud today, and what are the possibilities for the future? VIAVI demystifies the cloud…

Q: What links an online bookseller, a search engine and a software vendor?

A: They’ve all gone on to make billions from the cloud.

Amazon, Google and Microsoft all went from humble beginnings to recently reporting earnings which showed the staggering success of their cloud businesses: AWS, Google Cloud and Azure, respectively. Enterprises have been making the most of these tools for years, however, telco has been relatively slow to embrace the cloud.

The start may have been slow and tentative – though let’s not forget that many telco players have been around for years, serve millions of subscribers, have multifaceted businesses and oversee extensive physical and virtual infrastructures – but today, cloud has grown into one of the biggest trends in telco.

Digital-first brands

Digital-first brands as well as incumbents have started to move infrastructure and workloads into cloud environments. DISH, in its partnership with AWS, has also shown that it’s possible to use cloud infrastructure and services to build entirely new cloud-based, 5G O-RAN architectures.

This news, an industry first, is arguably one of the biggest stories of the year so far, and will set the tone for future moves. But it’s by no means the only telco-cloud tie-in. Microsoft launched Azure for Operators back in 2020, Bell Canada has recently teamed up with Google Cloud, and IBM has agreed hybrid cloud deals with both Verizon and Spain’s Telefonica.

Yet despite this cloud activity and the interest from telcos and the media alike, the subject of the cloud is still too, well, cloudy. Moving infrastructure to the cloud has its benefits, but it also adds complexity to networks and introduces a new environment which must be tested. This is a challenge which many in the telco sector still know relatively little about. So, in in the first of this two-part blog we’ll define what the different types of cloud platform are. Keep an eye out for part two, where we’ll examine the different networks elements that can and are being moved to the cloud.

What are the different types of 5G cloud model?

  1. Private cloud

This is telecoms service providers bread and butter – it’s what they’ve been doing for years – hosting cloud services within their own data centers. The cloud services are closed, tailored to the telcos’ specific needs and are not available to any other company.

Some service providers have built their own cloud services over the years, using companies such as HPE, Red Hat, Dell, IBM, Microsoft, and VMWare to provide the infrastructure and services. The benefits include complete control over resources, control over scalability, and an ability to meet regulatory requirements. However, building your own private cloud can be expensive, with further costs associated with upgrades and maintenance further down the line.

  1. Public cloud

Public cloud involves outsourcing cloud services to a third party, with workloads and applications hosted away from the telcos on premises. The three major public cloud providers are Amazon (with its cloud service, AWS), Google (Google Cloud) Microsoft (Azure), as well as companies such as IBM and Oracle.

Telcos benefit from a wide range of additional services that these providers can offer (such as data analytics), and the expertise and heavy investment these providers have made in the cloud areas of their business. This arguably gives telcos greater scalability, better security and lower capex than if they were running and operating their own data centers. Finally, Amazon et al have teams of people highly skilled in cloud migration, saving telcos time and money needed to acquire and retain in-house talent.

  1. Hybrid cloud

Also referred to as multi-cloud, this involves a telco using a mixture of both public and private cloud, with services hosted both on-premise and at the data centers of public cloud providers.

This might make sense for a telco that manages huge volumes of different data types. The telco might prefer to store critical data and apps in a private cloud environment while less sensitive data can be stored in a public cloud. There are also cost benefits, as a hybrid approach allows a telco to augment existing capabilities and capacity without having to invest in new servers and hardware themselves. They also have the flexibility of using public cloud services as and when they need them.

However, the approach may mean an additional element of complexity, as telcos have to combine two different environments: their own on-premise system has to interface and be compatible with that of the third-party provider.

The above gives a quick overview the types of cloud, but how are these environments supporting the next generation of telco networks? Read more in Part II.


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TeraVM Marketing

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