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Telcos’ shift to multi-cloud models expected to drive alliances, competition among players

IDC believes that the telco cloud will develop in parallel with cloud hyperscalers, operations support systems or business support systems vendors, application providers, system integrators, open-source groups, and industry bodies.

IDC Asia Pacific’s latest report titled “Market Analysis Perspective: Elevating the Role of Telcos in a Multicloud Ecosystem, 2020,” examines how telco public cloud adoption (telcos partnering with hyperscalers to move enterprise workloads to the cloud) can be bridged to enterprise needs as communications service providers construct their next-gen network infrastructure.

“Telcos are keen on aligning their external partner-centric digital transformation approach (via public cloud adoption) with their internal digital transformation initiatives such as SD-WAN,” said Yash Jethani, Research Manager for Telecommunications at IDC Asia Pacific. “Moving forward, public cloud adoption not only defends telco connectivity revenues but also pivots telcos to a managed service provider or cloud-broker for enterprises.”

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IDC defines the multi-cloud telco environment as an external digital lever for telcos to provide enterprises with required key performance indicators (latency, bandwidth, jitter) via a public cloud or cloudified internal systems — to enable scalability, faster go to market, and improved customer experience.

Telcos as cloud network providers

The provision of this multi-cloud ecosystem with end-to-end orchestration, seamless life-cycle services, and secured and automated billing systems is the need of the hour for any enterprise. In the long term, this positions telcos to lay the foundation to become ubiquitous cloud network providers and provide an exchange of cloud interconnect services on their platform.

The entire stack of infrastructure, and applications (including middleware) needs to be cloud-enabled and cloud provisioned for enterprises to reap the true benefits of scalability and resiliency. The telco public cloud market is poised to reach US$ 2.6 billion by 2024, with storage, server, and CRM applications forming the bulk of that spend. Telcos have an opportunity to provide enterprises the required KPIs with cloud-enabled solutions.

Network functions virtualized infrastructure

The four ways telos can adopt a multi-cloud journey are via: cloud infrastructure (IaaS), cloud orchestration, cloud life-cycle services, and cloud interconnect solutions.

For an effective top-down and vice-versa implementation, the current network functions virtualized infrastructure (NFVi) resources need to morph into a cloud-based network functions – managed by a Kubernetes cluster – which can then prevent vendor lock-in to provide flexibility to enterprises. About 33% of APEJ organizations today use containers across on-premises private, hosted private, IaaS public, and PaaS public cloud resources.

The competition for telcos is predominantly from global cloud hyperscalers, managed service providers, and system integrators. Major tier-1 telcos in Asia/Pacific including Telstra, NTT, Singtel, Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Reliance JIO, Singtel, KT, LG Uplus, and others have invested in telco cloud capabilities and IoT ecosystems – although with varied strategic objectives, and competitive positioning in each geographic market.

In some cases, telcos will have to depend on their datacenter or IaaS offerings. Furthermore, IDC data shows there is a need to evolve datacenters with fluidic cloud infrastructure with multi-cloud and hybrid cloud capabilities. As telcos rely on the edge located typically near mobile cell sites and/or regional/local datacenters, the heterogeneous cloud network of far edge, near edge, and city data centers will be crucial.

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