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Microsoft Azure Cloud Ramps for 5G Telecom Service Provider Partners

Microsoft Azure has gained new cloud features for 5G wireless network service providers. The offering, called Azure for Operators, surfaced this week at the Microsoft Telecommunications Executive Forum.

The Azure for Operators push includes new telecommunications partnerships and technology to help telecommunications service providers (TSPs) roll out 5G networks and deliver new cloud-based services, Microsoft said in a blog post.

Microsoft Azure for Telecom Service Providers

Jason Zander, EVP, Azure, Microsoft

New partnerships with telecom vendors, Microsoft partners and Microsoft’s developer ecosystem will “help operators to future-proof their networks, drive down costs and create new services and business models,” Microsoft’s Executive VP, Azure Jason Zander said in the post. Key focus areas include ultra-reliable low-latency connectivity, mixed reality communications services, network slicing, and highly scalable IoT applications.

Microsoft’s acquisitions of Affirmed Networks’ cloud-native 5G mobile platform and Metaswitch’s virtualized UC network software earlier this year brought new technologies and hundreds of engineers with telecom experience, according to the statement. These acquisitions, and the development of Azure Edge Zones, are aimed at meeting the technology and platform needs of telecom operators, Microsoft said.

The Azure for Operators push will also allow Microsoft to combine these services with other capabilities like Azure Cognitive Services, Azure Machine Learning, and Azure IoT, Microsoft said.

Azure for Operators Enables 5G Services

“By harnessing the power of Microsoft Azure, on their edge, or in the cloud, operators can transition to a more flexible and scalable model, drive down infrastructure cost, use AI and machine learning (ML) to automate operations and create service differentiation,” Zander said in the blog. “Furthermore, a hybrid and hyper-scale infrastructure will provide operators with the agility they need to rapidly innovate and experiment with new 5G services on a programmable network,” he said.

Zander went on to say that Microsoft’s Azure for Operators would further support operators through the use of technologies such as software-defined networking, network function virtualization, and service-based architectures.

“We are bringing to market a carrier-grade platform for edge and cloud to support the operator’s goals to future-proof their infrastructure with disaggregated and containerized network architectures. Recognizing that not everything will move to the public cloud, we will meet operators where they are—whether at the enterprise edge, the network edge, or in the cloud,” Zander said.

5G Cloud Services: VMware, Amazon Web Services Options

Meanwhile, multiple technology and cloud service providers (CSPs) are ramping up their own 5G wireless networking initiatives. For instance, VMware launched a 5G Telco Cloud Platform in early September 2020. Also, Amazon is promoting its own AWS Wavelength 5G mobile edge compute service.

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