By Nicholas Ismail, Global Head of Brand Journalism, HCL Technologies Ltd.
The telecommunications (telco) industry is undergoing a dramatic transformation.
This is driven by several factors, including; the adoption of the emerging 5G mobile network, the radical change in enterprise and personal infrastructure traffic patterns, and the pandemic-accelerated demand for distributed services, such as highly interactive mobile applications, from consumers.
The advent of new technologies and ways of working, such as augmented and virtual reality, the metaverse and Industry 4.0 or NeXT, has also accelerated telco transformation. Communication service providers (CSPs) are driving the connectivity and real-time communication ability at the edge that will support this next era of work.
He adds: “To work in a highly distributed environment, you need a highly reliable, low-latency, and high throughput network that allows new and emerging technologies or services to converge. This convergence is only possible with 5G.”
To embrace and effectively deploy 5G services and respond to changing consumer demands, telco providers are prioritizing investments in the multi-cloud.
Multi-cloud at the edge
The term multi-cloud describes partnering with at least two public cloud providers or hyperscalers. It provides enterprises with the freedom to build and deploy any applications in any cloud, increasing their flexibility and portability.
As a result, enterprise cloud adoption through multiple hyperscalers is becoming much more common. In part, this is driven by the need for in-region sovereign clouds and localized hybrid cloud providers to ensure the delivery of security and data access, while meeting local laws and regulations on data privacy and security.
Telcos are relying on the multi-cloud, because they are regulated by the country or region they’re operating in. They need the flexibility the multi-cloud offers to deliver services and connectivity in compliance with these local laws.
“The need for a multi-cloud strategy at the network level is crucial, assisting with wired-fixed connectivity, limited mobility, and full mobility,” explains Kumar.
The shift to multi-cloud is happening via three ways for telcos and other large enterprises:
Partnering with multiple hyperscalers, such as AWS, Microsoft, Google, HCL Technologies, and VMware.
The hybrid multi-cloud scenario, where workloads are deployed across multiple computing environments, including public cloud and private cloud. Private clouds are usually an existing on-premise data center.
The edge, where ultra-low latency applications are deployed closer to where customer data is being generated, on or near internet-connected devices.
For telcos, a secure and resilient edge is central to the deployment of consistent 5G services that can help enterprise customers respond to changing customer needs and new ways of working. Going one step further, providing multi-access edge computing (MEC) can also enable the AI/ML tasks that provide greater intelligence on a network’s operations and ensure the delivery of high-bandwidth, low-latency applications on a distributed architecture.
These types of deployments place a significant demand on the network. To overcome the risk of downtime, a modern digital infrastructure deployed across a multi-cloud environment is needed to ensure services run effectively in this new distributed landscape.
“For customers, the challenge is deciding what route to take when implementing a multi-cloud strategy. IT service providers, like HCL Technologies, can help telcos choose the right pieces to ensure any deployment is a success,” says Kumar.
According to Kumar, there are three tangible benefits from adopting a multi-cloud and edge strategy from a telco standpoint.
The first benefit includes the telco’s ability to process data where it is being generated – at the edge. This increases accessibility and allows for the provisioning and tailoring of services in near real-time.
“From an IoT use case perspective, which requires an intense amount of processing at the edge – such as the intelligent monitoring of traffic in a smart city – this is very helpful,” adds Kumar.
Security and compliance
The second benefit is improved security. Even though the data is distributed across the edge and multi-cloud environment, this approach allows telcos to localize the way they want to secure that data and provides greater control of data governance and data sovereignty – ensuring local regulation and compliance standards are met.
The third benefit of a multi-cloud strategy is the flexibility it gives telcos and other enterprises. It allows them to have better choice and realize the benefits of different public cloud providers without being locked into a specific vendor.
Evolution of the telco
In the telco world, today, many parts of the network still run on 2G and 3G. Investments in those infrastructures exist, because it’s difficult to ‘rip and replace’ them.
As telcos evolve with the embrace of 5G, their aim is to reduce their reliance on legacy network infrastructure and simplify the network through virtualization.
“The virtualization or modernization of the telco is enabled by an effective multi-cloud strategy, which ensures the provision of connectivity services and the delivery of new incremental value,” continues Kumar.
He adds: “The whole transformation of the telco is happening both in operations and business services. It’s redefining how they operate their network and how they operate their business services through simplifying their own network.”
Kumar notes that there is also a convergence of the operating model in the telco world. “What we call the CTIO model,” he says.
This is explained by the convergence between the CTO, or the network, and the CIO, or the IT infrastructure, in the telco.
Along with simplifying operations, the operating model change means telco CTOs and CIOs are looking at virtualizing their infrastructure and network services and adopting a DevOps style delivery model to be more agile, to ensure the distributed network’s reliability isn’t compromised.
“In HCL Technologies’ software business we are creating next-generation operating platform products that have a single management stack, which can be managed from radio access network (RAN) to the packet core ability. This provides telcos with the ability to change their operating model and simplify commerce consumption,” says Kumar.