Moving to a cloud-native architecture is mandatory, not optional for telcos, said Google Cloud’s Senior Director, Product Management of Telecom Gabriele Di Piazza, adding that telecom operators are facing lots of challenges right now due to declining revenue growth, exploding data consumption and increasing capital requirements for 5G.
Speaking during FierceTelecom’s Cloud Networking virtual event this week, Di Piazza said that he believes telecom operators are at a critical juncture because networks are becoming more complex, and automation and orchestration is necessary for handling that complexity.
Because of this, some operators have already moved in the direction of cloud-native by deploying a more virtualized network that runs on virtual machines and containers. However, Di Piazza said that operators must not only transform how their networks are built but also how they are managed and that means embracing cloud-native principals.
These principals include using open technologies and embracing open APIs. It also means operators have to support the open-source world as well.
But Di Piazza added that cloud-native networks do come with their own challenges. For example, there is a lack of standardization among the various open-source groups and there’s fragmentation among parts of the cloud-native ecosystem, particularly among OSS vendors, cloud providers and startups.
Nevertheless, Di Piazza said that Google Cloud’s approach is to leverage cloud-native technologies across the public, private and edge networks and target vertical industries that have use cases requiring a high-capacity, high-bandwidth, low-latency network.
And he believes that the cloud-native architecture will provide operators with some key differentiators. For example, it will reduce the cost of operating a network because it incorporates artificial intelligence and machine learning as well as real-time automation. In addition, because it is based on open-source software and off-the-shelf hardware it has a common platform that can be extended to the cloud and the edge. This eliminates many of the silos that operator networks have today.
However, when asked when he thought operators would move to a cloud-native architecture, Di Piazza said that it may be a few years before the industry sees cloud-native deployed in big telcos. He said that smaller cloud-native deployments are happening today but he expects to see more deployments later this year and into 2023, 2024 and 2025. “It’s a big change in operations,” he added. “And the sales and marketing teams have to be part of it, too.”
Some greenfield operators such as Rakuten and Dish Network are building their networks with cloud-native technology. Last year, Dish announced that it planned to use Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Compute Cloud to host its core and radio access network (RAN) for 5G.