At a time when Microsoft Azure’s closest rival – AWS – is widely publicising its involvement in 5G projects with the likes of Verizon and AT&T, Microsoft has reiterated its edge and cloud capabilities to operators, in a blog post from the executive vice president of Azure, Jason Zander.
“Today starts a new chapter in our close collaboration with the telecommunications industry to unlock the power of 5G and bring cloud and edge closer than ever,” said Jason Zander, executive vice president at Microsoft Azure, in a recent blog post. “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.”
Discussions with operators
Citing early engagement with partners such as Telstra and Etisalat, and the fact the company joined the 5G Open Innovation Lab as the founding public cloud partner in May, Microsoft is pushing its credibility in the 5G arena.
“We joined the 5G Open Innovation Lab as the founding public cloud partner to accelerate enterprise start-ups and launch new innovations to foster new 5G use cases with even greater access to leading-edge networks,” said Zander. “The Lab will create long-term, sustainable developer and commercial ecosystems that will accelerate the delivery of exciting new capabilities at the edge, including pervasive IoT intelligence and immersive mixed reality. And this is just the beginning.”
Having engaged in a series of discussions with operators in the mobile networking sector, Microsoft has identified points of control that are important to them, with the key ones being:
- Control over where a slice, network API, or function is presented to the customer
- Definition of where and how traffic enters and exits their network
- Visibility and control over where key functions are executed for a given customer scenario
- Configuration and performance parameters of core network functions
“As we build out Azure for Operators, we recognize the importance of ensuring operators have the control and visibility they require to manage their unique industry requirements,” Zander said.
Built on the acquisitions
Microsoft hopes that it can attract operators to its edge and cloud products, which, the company says, will drive down infrastructure cost, and use Microsoft’s AI and machine learning (ML) tools to automate operations and create service differentiation.
“Our approach is built on the acquisitions of industry leaders in cloud-native network functions—Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch and on the development of Azure Edge Zones,” Zander explained. “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. These capabilities, combined with Microsoft’s broad developer ecosystem and deep business to business partnership programs, provide Microsoft with a unique ability to support the operators as they seek to monetize the capabilities of their networks,” Zander concluded.