The coming intersection of 5G and the public cloud

The coming intersection of 5G and the public cloud
February 23, 2021  |  BY

Most technologies, own their own, can help providers deliver exceptional service to their customers. But when two great technologies complement one another, customers can benefit even more. I bring this up because of the parallel paths being taken by cloud providers and 5G providers. Specifically, cloud operators continue to build the tools and services that host today’s mission-critical applications. Meanwhile, we’re seeing mobile operators increasingly deploy 5G access networks.

It seems that at some point, in the not too distant future, 5G and the cloud will come together to deliver an even richer, more robust experience for customers.

That can occur in a number of ways. To begin, let’s look at back-office systems. These days, the majority of network operators run their public websites in the cloud. Some operators are considering migrating their back office business support systems to the public cloud. This could be a wise decision, as these workloads are completely suited to the cloud. Overall, the migration allows operators to renew their business support systems applications, and can improve how operators deliver customer service.

5G and public cloud can also come together at the network edge. That could be defined as the public cloud infrastructure being deployed inside the operator data center. In theory, this architecture should be effective. Of course, operators will have to demonstrate better application performance from the edge cloud in real world conditions. In addition, they must enable applications that aren’t practical from a centralized data center.

Another way 5G and the public cloud can converge is within the private mobile network market. These networks have strict performance requirements, which call for the need to deploy equipment on-premises. They’ll need some type of edge cloud platform to run the core network and to host enterprise applications. And because operators have spectrum, radio expertise and wide area networks, they can easily collaborate with 5G providers, who have edge platforms and already host enterprise applications.

After extensive analysis over the years, operators understand that cloud networks are best when they run on a private Telco cloud. The thinking? This is how to attain the best possible performance, control and availability. Currently, telecom operators don’t feel the need to shift vital network functions to the public cloud. In fact, many executives reject the idea – they’re justifiably concerned about issues like reliability, control and costs. From their perspective, specialist telecom operators are the right people to run critical network infrastructures. However, we do see activity and interest in the public cloud for network functions. Smaller ISPs, IoT providers and private network operators see the appeal in running core network functions in the public cloud.

Operators are appealing collaborative partners for a number of reasons. For one, they already distribute public cloud services in the enterprise market. They also have unmatched access to customers.

No one can say for sure how the 5G provider-Cloud provider collaboration will take shape. As it stands, the partnership has operators retaining a share of the revenue from the cloud service. In addition, operators will be motivated by a number of incentives, including a share of revenues and marketing support.

Overall, one can clearly see the benefits of 5G network operators and public cloud providers working together. At this point it’s not a matter of “if”, but “when.”