Microsoft Azure expands its telecommunications solutions

Microsoft Azure expands its telecommunications solutions

Microsoft Azure expands its telecommunications solutions

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New smartphones may grab headlines at MWC, but at its core, the annual show is still a telecommunications event. So it’s perhaps no surprise that the big cloud providers, all vying for the lucrative telecom market, also made a few announcements ahead of the event. AWS edged out its competition by announcing its news a week earlier and today it’s Microsoft’s turn. The new features the company announced today for telcos using its Azure cloud services focus on four areas: network transformation, automation and AI, network-enabled applications, and what Microsoft calls “pervasive computing from the cloud to the edge”.


“The future hyperscale cloud will be very different from the cloud we have today,” Jason Zander, Microsoft’s executive vice president for strategic missions and technology, told me. “Our expectation is that he will develop; it will be a highly distributed tissue; this will extend from 5G to space. That future — that smart cloud, that smart edge — must be powered by a modern network infrastructure. And that’s going to enable a new kind of application and we need a new connectivity paradigm for that. We call it modern connected apps. Basically, we are on the right track to bring you apps that can be connected anywhere, anytime across the planet. This is where we are headed and we want to make sure we are part of that future. And it’s a natural extension of the cloud and also an opportunity for us to partner with the telecom industry.

As he noted, Microsoft believes that a modern network infrastructure will result in a lower total cost of ownership for its telecommunications partners while helping them modernize and monetize their existing infrastructure. To do this, Microsoft is today launching Azure Operator Nexus, its next-generation hybrid cloud platform for communications service providers. It enables these enterprises to run their carrier-grade workloads both on-premises and on Azure.

“AT&T made the decision to adopt the Azure Operator Nexus platform over time in hopes of lowering total cost of ownership, leveraging the power of AI to simplify operations, improving time to market and focus on our core competency of creating the best 5G service in the world,” said Igal Elbaz, senior vice president, network technical director, AT&T.

It’s not just about software, though. Zander explained that when Microsoft first approached this space, the company thought it could just take the same technology it had built for Azure and apply it to the telecommunications space. But it didn’t work. “It’s a combination of hardware, hardware acceleration, and the software to go with it,” Zander explained. “It’s important because Microsoft has a set of edge cloud hardware, but it’s not designed for that. When you see vendors talking about using the same thing to run an IT workload when ‘they plan to run a telecommunications network, it’s not working and that’s exactly why we made this multi-year investment.

As part of today’s announcements, Microsoft is also making Azure Communications Gateway, its service for connecting fixed and mobile networks to Teams, generally available and launching Azure Operator Voicemail, a service that allows operators to migrate their services from voicemail (remember voicemail?) to Azure as a fully managed service.

On the AI ​​front, Microsoft is launching two new “AIOps” services – Azure Operator Insights and Azure Operator Service Manager. Operator Insights uses machine learning to help operators analyze the massive amounts of data they collect from their network operations and troubleshoot potential issues, while Service Manager helps operators generate insights into their network configurations .

With this announcement, Microsoft is also emphasizing the creation of network-compatible applications. Essentially, it’s about managing the quality of service for specific applications. It could be 5G data from self-driving cars or connecting next-generation flying vehicles like the Volocopter, a company Microsoft has partnered with for a while, to the cloud. As Zander noted, this requires back and forth between operators and developers – and since no developer is going to create a service that only works on one network, there has to be some interoperability here. With the Linux Foundation’s Camara Project, Microsoft, Google Cloud, IBM, Ericsson, Intel and others worked with carriers like AT&T, Deutsche Telecom, Orange, T-Mobile US, Telefonica, TELUS and Vodafone to create a standard open API for some of this work. ” They understand. They know they want to differentiate themselves, but they also know that if there’s a shard in the app ecosystem, it’s just going to stall one way or another,” Zander said.

Also new today is the general availability of Azure Private 5G Core and Microsoft’s Multiple Access Edge Compute (MEC) service.


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