Most readers are probably too young to remember the Rolling Stones song from 1965 “Hey you, Get off of my cloud”. Nowadays, if June's Mobile World Congress 2021 (MWC 2021) is anything to go by, everyone is being called in to the cloudification of public networks. But even if Cloud definitions have changed, this is not a new story for 5G networks.
The Cloud, at least in a networking sense, can be traced back to 2005 and General Magic (an Apple Spin out) and Compaq (eventually part of HP) in 2007, with their distributed computing vision. In terms of growth, innovation and capability in Cloud technology, it has come a long way in 15 years.
But it is not really a new story for mobile. Voices from MWC 2021 highlighted opportunities for lower capital costs, shared investment and new business models, faster time to market, higher levels of resilience, and better access to talent. But do these advantages work for mobile immediately?
The prospects look good, and some solutions exist already – whether for Cloud RAN (radio access), edge computing, core networks, customer data storage, collaborative working and the enterprise, private network solutions, subscriber and identity management, fraud management, internet based services and IoT. Leading market vendors, such as Microsoft (Azure), Amazon (AWS) and Google Cloud, all had major announcements including operator partnerships and case studies. Many of these examples are focused on the above prospects and benefits as described above.
This leaves open a few questions: How do we integrate Cloud into Standards and 21st century public networks? What measures of resilience can be offered to be truly operational twenty-four seven? When is the right time to transition to cloud based infrastructure? When, and how, will you get into the cloud – satisfaction guaranteed?