By offering low latency and higher capacity on the network, 5G is obviously a new innovation that embraces many new technologies such as autonomous vehicles, augmented and virtual reality. With 5G, telecom network workloads are moved to the cloud for the first time, resulting in a service-based architecture (SBA) in which the network is used to push services to subscribers. Edge clouds are now being developed, which would expand 5G capabilities and provide quicker, more secure services by physically bringing processing and storage power closer to the end-user.
Telcos and hyperscalers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud are reportedly looking to capitalise on the opportunities presented by 5G cloud and edge cloud. For telcos who are used to providing last-mile connectivity across the continent or region, the idea of cloud-based 5G is completely new. Hyperscalers excel at delivering mobility, availability, and creative software, as well as operating a smooth global operation. Hyperscalers came up with new solutions to tap the edge possibilities – Outposts and Wavelength, Azure Edge Zones, Google Anthos – to remain in the search to bring services from the cloud to the edges.
Furthermore, the Open RAN movement, not just at the edge, allows telcos and hyperscalers to strategize business models because more vendors would be involved in RAN innovation.
Despite their extensive experience operating services and operations for large networks, telecom networks cannot expand their network requirements due to cloud adoption for 5G, such as software enhancements, network equipment, and purpose-built hardware resources. To deliver agility in application implementations, telecom networks must develop and expand their cloud-based platforms, as well as effectively orchestrate their network functions. Hyperscalers may assist in this case by rapidly deploying infrastructure and platforms, as well as monitoring and scaling or upgrading those components as required.
The key justification for getting the edge cloud closer to the end user is so that data can be processed and distributed as easily as possible. This method also keeps track of data state, which is critical for edge applications. In this scenario, telcos will need hyperscalers in order to handle and distribute data across multiple edges and to end-users.
The deployment of NFV infrastructures that shape the edge cloud at different data centre locations will continue to be time-consuming for telcos, and further interconnection will be needed to manage and orchestrate from a single pane of glass. In this situation, hyperscalers can assist by delivering services focused on containers and orchestration systems such as Kubernetes, which can help to streamline service operations at the NFV infrastructure level. In this case, Wavelength Zones and Azure Zones, for example, may be useful. Hyper scalers gain more control over the network’s software and services in this way, while also addressing the issues of faster implementation and better control.
Recent advancements in telecom networks include capabilities such as zero-touch operations and network-as-a-service, which give operators more power to control large networks. However, when contemplating this ‘cloudification,’ it is necessary to remember the 5G services that will be offered to consumers, as well as the customised services that will be delivered by edge cloud. Various vendors, including startups, OTT providers, and existing tech vendors, will be participating in edge cloud to deploy their applications in various regions.
According to a KPMG report (pdf), by 2023, the five target industries (industrial manufacturing, connected healthcare, intelligent transportation, gaming, and environmental monitoring) are projected to generate US$500 billion in annual revenue across the entire ecosystem, including connectivity, hardware, software, and services, thanks to increased adoption of 5G and edge computing.
Given this, it’s important for telcos and hyperscalers to work together, given the proliferation of edge-based networks. Both would benefit from new revenue sources as a result of this.
Hyper scalers are also strong in terms of finances and capabilities when it comes to software applications (automation, reliability, security). Hyper scalers, on the other hand, lack last-mile coverage and would prefer to use telcos’ comprehensive and vast network connectivity power to remain in the 5G and edge game. Telcos are transitioning to a software-based model at different stages – from cloud to edge and far edge – and hyper scalers can assist them in providing consumers with high-quality, low-latency applications.
Telcos also have a leg up on local governments when it comes to acquiring spectrum to deploy their networks and securing the requisite licences and permits to offer telecom services. Hyperscalers would potentially eliminate the need for such licences to offer cloud services by collaborating with telcos.
To offer high-performance 5G, hyperscalers and telcos each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Telecoms have advanced due to network automation and network-as-a-service capabilities, while hyper scalers excel at data analytics, AI/ML, security, and software component and service lifecycle management. However, each has its own set of limitations when it comes to 5G. Following an increase in internet use due to Covid-19 last year, it is clear that all parties must cooperate and adapt in order to address potential challenges in service delivery.