Microsoft has entered the 5G race with the launch of a new cloud platform, aimed at enabling telecom operators to build networks faster, reduce costs and sell customised services to business clients.
Held on Azure, Microsoft’s flagship cloud computing business, the new platform will reduce infrastructure costs, give flexibility to add services on demand and use artificial intelligence to automate operations.
Yousef Khalidi, Corporate Vice President for Azure Networking, told Reuters that it could cut costs by 30%-40% in some cases.
This comes at the heels of a big push from the US government for big American companies such as Microsoft to get more involved with 5G technologies, after the ban on China’s Huawei from its telecom network.
Earlier this year, Microsoft entered the 5G arena through acquisition of cloud networking companies Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch.
“The telco DNA was obtained through those acquisitions and we went from a small number of engineers in this space to literally hundreds of engineers,” said Mr. Khalidi.
By harnessing the power of Microsoft Azure, on their edge, or in the cloud, operators are said to be able to transition to a more flexible and scalable model, drive down infrastructure cost, use AI and machine learning to automate operations and create service differentiation. Furthermore, hybrid and hyperscale infrastructures will provide operators with the agility they need to rapidly innovate and experiment with new 5G services on a programmable network.
“The foundational pieces, including edge compute, we have had in a pipeline for many years,” added Mr. Khalidi.
Microsoft has already partnered with companies ranging from telecom operators such as Verizon and AT&T to network equipment firms such as Samsung and Mavenir to either use or sell the new platform to clients.
Microsoft will further support operators as they evolve their infrastructure and operations using technologies such as software-defined networking, network function virtualisation, and service-based architectures by bringing a carrier-grade platform for edge and cloud to the market to support operator’s goals in future proofing their infrastructure with disaggregated, and containerised network architectures.
By recognising that not everything will move to the public cloud, Microsoft has committed to meeting operators at the enterprise edge, the network edge, or in the cloud.
CCS Insight analyst Nicholas McQuire predicts that the move by Microsoft will increase competition for existing 5G service vendors like Nokia and Ericsson.
Earlier this month, major South Korean mobile carrier, LG Uplus announced its partnership with Google Cloud to jointly develop 5G mobile edge computing technology, to enable the delivery of ultra-low latency data communication in 5G networks.
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