Microsoft is firing on all cylinders when it comes to 5G offerings. The IT giant is putting together a wide array of telco cloud stack exchanges after it acquired AT&T’s Network Cloud.
Azure for Operators will be harnessing AT&T’s network virtualization, which gives Microsoft the required leverage to prop its 5G offerings. Along with 60 cloud-native networks functions (CNF) and virtual network functions (VNF) from 15 vendors, Microsoft’s Azure for Operator has been six months in waiting, explained Microsoft’s VP of 5G strategy Shawn Hakl.
Along with the sale, AT&T is moving its 5G network core, workloads, and services to the Azure for Operators platform. The telecom organization stated that deploying its 5G standalone core will be its first order of business, and it plans to shift its existing network cloud to Azure by 2024.
Microsoft’s Enterprise Support to Operators
“Many of the benefits that Microsoft delivered in the enterprise space are directly applicable in the network space,” said Hakl. However, he opined that these tools and services of Microsoft should be modified in the first place to meet the unique requirements of the carriers.
“Our efforts are aimed at getting workloads on the network to function on a carrier-grade cloud, which is a hybrid cloud, spanning both public and dedicated on-premises cloud infrastructure.”
Along with AT&T’s technology, Microsoft also assimilated about 100 engineers from the telecom giant. These engineers will focus on integrating AT&T Network Cloud with Microsoft’s hybrid-cloud offering and with a platform that is AT&T-centric. In addition, the engineers will also be utilizing this acquired AT&T tech to dole out offerings to other operators.
AT&T and Microsoft’s integration is unique as it is “the first time that a tier-one operator has embraced commercial hybrid cloud technology to run mobility network workloads,” wrote Hakl.
Azure for Operators will integrate with Microsoft’s edge and hybrid platforms, and the growing equipment and hardware ecosystem will fuel it, Kahl said.
“We believe the result will be better resiliency across the network, cost advantages when it comes to scaling existing services, and a more effective introduction of new services resulting in continuous improvements to the customer experience,” he elaborated.
Microsoft’s Stance Regarding Data Management
Microsoft has been bullish with 5G, and it has acquired Affirmed Networks and acquired CNFs’ after it brought out Metaswitch Networks. However, AT&T and other operators, who are customers of Azure, will continue to manage their CNFs’ and VNF’s, Hakl said.
“In terms of security, it’s important to note that Microsoft does not access AT&T customer data — AT&T continues to hold access to that data, and Microsoft cannot see it,” he said.
The sale of AT&T tech also indicates that the telecom company realized that it was no match for cloud hyperscalers such as Azure. This acquisition may bring other telecom companies to Azure as a giant such as AT&T, acknowledged that cloud management was not everyone’s cup of tea.
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