Microsoft is doubling down on its move of partnering with major telecom providers, and has just announced its ‘Azure for Operators’ initiative. The Redmond-based giant has defined the initiative as “a new chapter in our close collaboration with the telecommunications industry.” Under Azure for Operators, Microsoft is partnering with telecom providers to deliver a carrier-grade cloud and bring Microsoft’s cloud technology to operator’s edge.
The partnership initiative with telecom providers is not new for Microsoft Azure as major telcos such as NTT, Vodafone, T-Mobile, Verizon Business, Deutsche Telekom, and AT&T have already joined hands with Microsoft. Microsoft Azure and AT&T had already announced a partnership in 2019 to leverage AI and 5G using Azure’s platform and AT&T’s network. Microsoft had also recently acquired cloud-native network functions companies Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch.
In its blog post regarding the statement, Microsoft stated that Azure for Operators will help carriers roll out their 5G services at scale. Carriers can use Azure services to move to a “more flexible and scalable model, drive down infrastructure cost, use AI and machine learning (ML) to automate operations and create service differentiation.” Microsoft will also offer technologies like software-defined networking and service-base architectures to help carriers evolve their infrastructure and operations.
Using Microsoft Azure’s solutions will help carriers automate large parts of their operations. This automation will help in delivering services such as ultrareliable, low-latency connectivity, mixed-reality communications services, network slicing, and highly scalable Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Microsoft is aiming to provide a platform for development of new 5G-based applications, something that the telecom industry needs to deliver on the promise and hype around 5G technology.
Jason Zander, the Executive Vice President at Microsoft Azure, spoke about Azure for Operators and stated, “we’re building a carrier-grade cloud and bringing more Microsoft technology to the operator’s edge. This, in combination with our developer ecosystem, will help operators to future proof their networks, drive down costs, and create new services and business models.” He further added, “by bringing together hundreds of engineers with deep experience in the telecommunications space, we are ensuring that our product development process is catering to the most relevant networking needs of the operators. We will leverage the strengths of Microsoft to extend and enhance the current capabilities of industry-leading products such as Affirmed’s 5G core and Metaswitch’s UC portfolio.”
Lastly, the telecom operators have three options when it comes to partnering with Microsoft. The carriers can either choose Microsoft’s carrier cloud and add their layers on top of it, they can also create their own networks on top of Microsoft’s virtualized/containerized network functions, or used Microsoft’s end-to-end services.