Cloud native is a ‘must do’ for both vendors and telcos

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Franz Seiser, Vice President Core Network & PaaS and Infrastructure Cloud, Deutsche Telekom AG

Cloud native is essential going forward, says Franz Seiser in conversation with Martyn Warwick. The question is how do we get there, what are the timelines and where can it best be applied. He says Edge is still loosely defined - it can involve existing telco central offices and it could also be on the customer premises. So Franz thinks the most promising area for telcos in Europe involves industrial use cases where telcos are in a good position to offer services which blend the telco and customer edges.

Low latency is always talked about, he points out, but actually European countries are not that expansive geographically, which means that as light goes back and forth at 100 kilometres a millisecond, you don’t require 50 data centres to be close enough to support low latency applications. Given that constraint (or lack of constraint) telcos can play a role by offering services that utilise industrial customers’ existing network infrastructure, not come in saying we have to deploy our own infrastructure. When you have portable cloud native software that can run on customers’ infrastructure, then you can set up your network control entities on their premises, he points out. So the telco edge compute facility can work with customers’ on-premises infrastructure and provide a coherent cloud native environment.

So what stops telcos from exploiting cloud native in this way? Culture and skillset have always hindered us and stopped us from moving as fast as we would like, says Franz. We don’t have a technology or investment problem, we have a problem in adopting and using technology quickly enough. Vendors are a part of this problem and the key to its solution.

Today you still see a lot of ‘heritage’ from hardware-inspired business models. Some vendors are busy adjusting, he says, some may still need to lose a couple of projects before they see that it doesn’t work any more. They have to become more software centric and there have to be new procurement models that fit in with the continuous software change way of working, Franz maintains. He says NFV was an important learning exercise where the industry learned a lot about what did not work - which is most of the time if you stick to your legacy way of doing things. The question now is, how do you get to cloud native as a telco? Do you introduce it in major segments (like a 5G core network), or do you do it bit by bit across the piece. Franz favours the major segments approach and says that DT is introducing a full cloud native 5G core.

Filmed at: Great Telco Debate 2019

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