Nokia and Google Cloud have put together a global strategic partnership aimed at supporting telecom providers’ compute needs for 5G in both the core and the network edge.
The two companies said that they will “work closely to validate, optimize and evolve cloud-native network functions” and “co-innovate” on solutions that support carriers in their efforts to deliver 5G networks and services at-scale.
“Communications service providers have a tremendous opportunity ahead of them to support businesses’ digital transformations at the network edge through both 5G connectivity and cloud-native applications and capabilities,” said George Nazi, VP of telco, media and entertainment industry solutions at Google Cloud, adding that doing so “requires modernized infrastructure, built for a cloud-native 5G core.”
As carriers build out their 5G networks and in particular as they seek to harness multi-access edge computing to support enterprise 5G use cases, they are turning to cloud computing providers as partners. Verizon, for instance, has been complementing its mmWave-based 5G with AWS Wavelength in specific cities in order to provide edge compute resources that complement 5G RAN availability; the carrier has also leaned on Microsoft to support MEC with integrated Azure services.
Nokia and Google Cloud said that they would create offerings that “bring together Nokia’s 5G operations services and networking capabilities with Google Cloud’s leading technologies in AI, ML, and analytics,” running on Google Cloud’s Anthos platform for managing applications at the edge for either public and private clouds. Nokia said that it is bringing its voice core, cloud packet core, network exposure function, data management, signaling, 5G core and Impact IoT platform to the partnership, as well as its converged charging solution for real-time rating and charging.
“We will start to see some of these things to get in the live environment by end of this year,” Amol Phadke, managing director at Google Cloud told Reuters.
“In the past five years, the telecom industry has evolved from physical appliances to virtual network functions and now cloud-native solutions,” said Ron Haberman, CTO of cloud and network services at Nokia. “Nokia is excited to work with Google Cloud in service of our customers, both CSPs and enterprise, to provide choice and freedom to run workloads on premise and in the public cloud. Cloud-native network functions and automation will enable new agility and use-cases in the 5G era.”
The two companies had announced a five-year partnership last October under which Nokia would move all of its own digital operations, including on-premise IT, servers and data centers around the globe, to Google Cloud as part of an effort to “transform Nokia’s digital infrastructure.” Now, Google Cloud will be part of Nokia’s services and network solutions for carriers as well.
The announcement included enthused support from carriers Deutsche Telekom and BT Group, both of which referenced their own work on deploying cloud-native technologies in their networks. Alex Choi, SVP of strategy and technology innovation at Deutsche Telekom, said that the carrier is “on a journey to transform to a new open, disaggregated and cloud-native infrastructure with an automated production model. We are therefore excited to see two innovative organizations like Nokia and Google Cloud joining forces to accelerate ecosystem innovation across critical areas like Open RAN and virtual RAN and the cloud-native 5G Core.”
Neil McRae, chief architect at BT Group, said that BT “is deploying cloud-native technologies across our platform, creating value for our customers and ensuring they get the best network experience in every aspect of their daily lives, whether at home, on the move or at work. The network and the services that our customers depend upon in their everyday lives can be further enhanced in terms of scalability, reliability, and experience with cloud-native technologies.”