5G Operators Slog Through Multi-Cloud Complexities

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Multi-Cloud Complexities- Mobile operators view multi-cloud as a competitive imperative, a strategy to avoid vendor lock-in, but running a 5G network on multiple clouds also creates additional complexity.

Other factors pushing operators to embrace a multi-cloud framework include customers’ cloud preferences, mobile edge computing capabilities, and specialized features available on different clouds.

Myriad valuable outcomes are derived from multi-cloud, however it remains to be seen if wireless carriers will successfully blend these strengths in a cross-cloud fashion or operate them in effective silos. There are some, albeit not perfect, comparisons to be made to the radio access network (RAN) space where operators use equipment from multiple vendors but try to limit complexity by installing one vendor’s equipment in each market it serves.

Multi-cloud for operators today is a double-edged sword, according to Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst at ZK Research. “Customers certainly want multi-cloud, but it does come with a lot of technical complexity and overhead,” he said.

“Operationally scaling in a multi-cloud scenario to meet the needs and demands of a telco environment has an impact on speed and time to market for an operator to deploy its services,” Kerravala said.

Operators Must Weigh Multi-Cloud Costs Vs. Benefits

As such, operators need to weigh costs versus the technical and supplier-specific benefits when deploying cloud-based workloads or services, he explained.

The multi-cloud model is to “create a service architecture that brings to bear a capability that increases multiple cloud services to the customer but also internally in terms of how it migrates its internal network and IP stack to the cloud,” Nick McQuire, chief of enterprise research at CCS Insight, explained in a recent phone interview.

Operators are also effectively hedging their cloud investments by partnering with multiple clouds, and taking a methodical approach to vet the cloud providers — project by project, workload by workload, McQuire said.

Aspirations and reality aren’t fully aligned, though. “Because of the complexity and overhead, most telcos will start with a single cloud provider, most likely Amazon Web Services (AWS) and then look to move to multi-cloud later,” Kerravala said.

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