Telcos the target for VMware's Edge and IoT upgrades

VMware has expanded its telco and Edge cloud portfolio to enable better connectivity in the world of 5G.

As 5G arrives, let's recap some key facts about 4G Sweden was first to roll out 4G but the nation's mobile speeds have now been eclipsed by countries that import their network gear. Read more: https://zd.net/31tSlPu

As 5G is now more than just a future proposition, VMware is making its presence known in the telecommunications world, on Tuesday announcing an expanded Telco and Edge Cloud portfolio it says will drive real-time intelligence for telco networks, as well as improved automation and security for telco, edge, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

VMware is already serving as an infrastructure provider for most communications service providers, and according to Rajiv Ramaswami, VMware COO of Products and Cloud Services, the telco space is a huge opportunity for the company.

"There's a big trigger happening in telcos which is they're at the early stages of deploying 5G, which is a massive capex investment that comes about every generation, every seven-eight years ... like the previous generation of 4G with LTE," Ramaswami told media.

"Now, as they do this, they're also looking to modernise their infrastructure, and go with a much more virtualised platform that they can run their virtual network functions on, as opposed to going and building dedicated boxes, like they have done in the past, for every application that they need to run.

"So this is obviously a huge opportunity."

Ramaswami said VMware looks at its value in much the same way as what server virtualisation was to the data centre 15-20 years ago, in terms of what the telco opportunity is for the next 10 years.

See also: How 5G can save lives by aiding first responders (CNET)

Pointing specifically to a partnership with Verizon, VMware chief operating officer Sanjay Poonen said the emergence of 5G has seen CEOs of telcos show a great amount of interest.

"The type of dialogue we're having with the CEO -- not often you'll see a CEO dialoguing at in tech conference like this -- it's because of 5G and the power and punch of what VMware can provide a customer like Verizon goes all the way from the traditional IT data centre to the network cloud to the hybrid cloud, including their public cloud strategy, all the way to the device and some elements like SD-WAN," Poonen told media.

"So that proposition in a software-defined world, which is fundamentally what changed with 5G, we think this is a great option for VMware to step in."

Specifically announced on Tuesday was an "expanded set of use cases targeting enterprise customers", including the next release of its OpenStack solution, VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO) 6.0, and the on-premises version of Pulse IoT Center.

According to VMware, a major element in customer retention in the telco market will be, if it's not already, customer service.

"With the rollout of 5G applications, service quality is becoming a key differentiator in the ability for CSPs to meet competitive pressures and reduce churn of consumer and enterprise customers," the company said in a statement. "This imperative will be even more important with the increasing virtualisation of RANs and core networks through technologies like network functions virtualisation (NFV), SD-WAN, and the adoption of e-SIMs on mobile and IoT devices."

Alongside this, VMware also announced the closure of its acquisition of Uhana, an AI-based solution for tuning radio access networks (RANs). The company said Uhana has built a real-time deep learning engine to optimise the quality of telco network experience.

With the promise of 5G spurring innovation, and as the number of connected devices and IoT use cases in enterprise environments continues to increase exponentially, Poonen said organisations are looking to Edge deployment options.

Pulse IoT Center has been out for around 18 months, and was last year extended to a SaaS offering with 2.0 that could scale up to a half a billion devices. Tuesday's upgrade will complement the previously released SaaS version, and VMware said it would provide customers with flexibility and choice of deployment options.

"Customers looking to scale and manage their IoT deployments securely across their enterprise now have the option for control of their on-premises deployment," the company said in a statement.

Also on Tuesday, VMware launched the VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO) 6.0, touted as providing CSPs with a common platform that has consistent policies in a multi-cloud environment.

According to VMware CTO of Global Field and Industry Chris Wolf, the company is still experiencing a lot of interest and adoption for VIO among telco provider partners, specifically.

He said that as 5G networks are being built under the premise of being cloud native, the latest release of VIO includes support for Kubernetes, giving CSPs a cloud native platform for container-based applications and services. 

See also: VMware's Kubernetes portfolio Tanzu 'a really big deal'

"As communication service providers transform their network architectures from 4G to 5G, build out Edge data centers, and manage multi-cloud deployments, many are discovering that their prior bets on legacy OpenStack software providers are leading them to siloed environments with cost overruns," the company explained.

"With the launch of VIO 6.0, VMware is continuing to invest in OpenStack-managed virtualised telco clouds with a focus on making them operationally deployable, container capable, and multi-cloud ready."

Disclosure: Asha Barbaschow travelled as a guest of VMware to VMworld in San Francisco.

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