Nokia and Ericsson releases offer needed cloud opportunities for operators

Telco cloud: two words that can strike fear into many in the industry. Yet a couple of new initiatives from Nokia and Ericsson will aim to help operators in their projects.

Nokia has officially opened its Cloud Collaboration Hub in Singapore. The hub ‘enables operators to visualise, develop and execute cloud offerings’, in the company’s words, and joins the facilities already available in Texas and the UK.

The hub will aim to resolve the dreaded cloud skills gap, cited by Nokia as a key reason why operators struggle in creating cloud services. Last year, research from Robert Half Technology found three quarters of CIOs and IT directors polled said they frequently encountered IT professionals who were not up to the task.

As the company puts it: “The strong partner ecosystem linked to the hubs enables Nokia to provide best in class, open source cloud solutions and instant cloud development skillsets to meet digital service provider needs.”

Alongside this, at the end of last month Ericsson pushed its Network Management as a Service offering, ‘supporting operators in their journeys to virtualisation, software-defined networking and, potentially, 5G network transformation’, as the company puts it.

Operators in the US who have already gone ahead for this service are Carolina West Wireless, Cellcom, Chariton Valley, and East Kentucky Networks. “Ericsson’s Network Management as a Service allows regional operators to focus on their core business while offering their customers the services they expect,” said Amy McCune, head of customer unit regional carriers for Ericsson North America in a statement.

It’s two different scenarios in two different continents, but the rise of technologies such as SDN and network functions virtualisation NFV means operators will either move of their own accord or be pushed into a software-defined virtualised world. Writing for Telco Transformation Gong Yuqing, marketing director at Huawei, noted the importance of flexible orchestration in data centre resources, network slicing, as well as distributed and mobile edge computing as key in providing a 5G service.

On a slightly different theme, Igor Babic, research analyst at Analysys Mason, wrote in December how the continued growth in cloud-related services has forced operators’ hands – even if they are very unlikely to get a slice of the pie from Amazon, Microsoft and Google, the leaders in cloud infrastructure services.

“Operators need not be marginalised in the cloud market,” wrote Babic. “They need to play on their strengths of local presence, existing relationships and having a good understanding of customer requirements, as well as connectivity provision, to innovate and partner with IT specialists rather than try to imitate their service offerings.”

“Telecoms firms play an important role in the development of cloud services, data centres and regular communications,” Suren Arustamyan, COO at JeraSoft, recently wrote for this publication. “Today, operators want to build more hybrid clouds where businesses can mix private and public cloud services; a social Internet of Things scenario. Any ideas related to improving the performance of data centres and saving energy are also welcome.”

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