Microsoft’s push into the telecoms market continues with the launch of a dedicated suite of cloud services called ‘Azure for Operators’, hoping to capitalise on increased demand from telcos in the 5G era.
Whereas previous generations of mobile technology have been powered by centralised, legacy core infrastructures, 5G is seeing operators rearchitect their networks around cloud-based cores and network function virtualisation (NFV).
These technologies allow operators to rollout new services more rapidly, dynamically allocate resources to where they are most needed, and bring processing capabilities closer to the point of collection. This will result in superior mobile data services and enable entirely new applications.
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Azure for Operators
Azure for Operators comprises both infrastructure and application elements and hopes to accelerate this shift even further and help telcos realise more of the benefits that businesses in other industries have realised from cloud adoption.
The cloud allows operators to reduce the total cost of ownership of infrastructure and provides the flexibility to react to changing customer behaviours. This agility also enables for the rapid deployment of new services and the ability to automate and virtualise more processes, driving further cost-efficiencies.
On the application side, customers receive access to Microsoft innovations in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) and bake these capabilities into new services. These include network slicing, mixed reality and industrial IoT applications that rely on ultra-low latency, the latter of which is further aided by Microsoft’s growing edge computing environment.
Recognising that operators might have some issues with ceding control of key parts of their network to a third party, Microsoft has stressed that customers can migrate as many or as few processes as they want and have complete control over where the workload resides on the Azure global network.
“Today starts a new chapter in our close collaboration with the telecommunications industry to unlock the power of 5G and bring cloud and edge closer than ever,” said Jason Zander, EVP, Microsoft Azure.
“We're building a carrier-grade cloud and bringing more Microsoft technology to the operator’s edge. This, in combination with our developer ecosystem, will help operators to future proof their networks, drive down costs, and create new services and business models.”
The launch is the latest move to strengthen Microsoft’s telecoms proposition. Late last year, it entered into a partnership with Nokia to create joint-products for enterprises and telcos, while it has also acquired Metaswitch Networks and Affirmed Networks.
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.