IBM unveils its Cloud for Telecoms and an impressive posse of partners

Ray Le Maistre
By Ray Le Maistre

Nov 5, 2020

  • IBM targets telcos with hybrid cloud architecture
  • Red Hat technology underpins the platform
  • 35 partners sign up to be part of the associated ‘ecosystem’
  • IBM offers access to a money pot for partner development

IBM has upped the ante in the telco cloud partnership world with the launch of IBM Cloud for Telecommunications, which the tech giant describes as “an open, hybrid cloud architecture designed to help telecommunications providers address the specific challenges of the highly-regulated industry: accelerating business transformation, enhancing digital client engagement and improving agility as they modernize their enterprise applications and infrastructure to unlock the power of 5G and edge.”

The announcement marks IBM’s big move to use the cloud savvy of Red Hat, which it acquired in July 2019 for $34 billion, to address the cloud native, distributed platform needs of wide area network operators (fixed line and wireless/mobile telcos, cable operators), which need to revamp their entire underlying platforms and operations to be able to address the needs of their customers (particularly enterprise users) in a cloud-oriented, 5G world.  

And IBM didn’t want to leave it any later, because the telco community has been gettin’ jiggy with the public cloud giants (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud) during the past year. And while telcos will not want to commit to develop their future with just one major hyperscaler, dance cards are being marked right now and IBM will not want to miss out on the telco cloud tango.   

The platform is built on IBM Cloud Satellite, a distributed cloud architecture that can run on public or private (on premises) cloud platforms and which is based on Red Hat’s cloud native OpenShift containerization software modules. IBM recently announced it had teamed up with AT&T to combine the capabilities of IBM Cloud Satellite with the operator’s 5G access services in order to help enterprises managed their applications in hybrid edge environments.   

And in true cloud sector style, IBM isn’t trying to do this on its own – it has attracted a very impressive partner ecosystem comprising (currently) a wide variety of technology vendors and developers, neutral connectivity and platform hosts (Equinix) and two key industry associations (O-RAN Alliance and TM Forum). The list of partners is below and also in the graphic above, and is a very interesting mix of major telecoms technology and infrastructure names – such as ADVA, Cisco, Dell, HPE, Intel, Juniper, Nokia, Samsung – and highly-regarded specialists, including Altiostar, Affirmed Networks and Metaswicth (now both owned by Microsoft, which makes their inclusion even more interesting), F5 Networks, MATTRIX Software, Mavenir, Palo Alto and many more, including a few lesser-known but very interesting outfits such as Travelping and Zerto.

IBM is also working with systems integrators such as Wipro, which is developing enterprise solutions based around edge and 5G capabilities based on IBM Edge Application Manager, and HCL, which is working with companies in the telecoms sector to “develop digital and cloud-native solutions” using the AI capabilities of IBM Cloud Paks.

And here’s something to get the R&D juices flowing… IBM is also opening up its Cloud Engagement Fund (value unspecified, other than it is “part” of a $1 billion cash pile) to its ecosystem partners for “funding, technical enablement, and creating proofs of concept.” Form an orderly queue, please!

So now the gloves are off. IBM has already brokered cloud relationships with AT&T, Vodafone Business, Verizon Business and Bharti Airtel… let’s see which others it can court.

The partners

Here’s the roll call of IBM Cloud for Telecommunications partners and a brief line about why each one is relevant (all in IBM’s words, it should be noted…but interesting all the same!):

  • ADVA Optical Networking SE is contributing low latency 5G access and transport solutions, optical backbones, Network Function Virtualization (NFV), synch & timing and disaggregated cell site gateways.
  • Affirmed Networks, Inc. enables operators to transform the economics of deploying and scaling mobile networks with its complete portfolio of open, cloud-native, 5G solutions.
  • Altiostar will provide 4G and 5G open virtualized RAN (Open vRAN) software that supports open interfaces and virtualizes the radio access baseband functions to build a disaggregated multi-vendor, web-scale, cloud-based mobile network.
  • Altran, Part of Capgemini, provides 5G solutions (vRAN, Core, Transport, Edge platform & marketplace), advanced Edge applications for industries and deep 5G System Integration & Network Engineering expertise.
  • Assima delivers powerful applications training at scale, leveraging its patented cloning technology to create immersive learner experiences.
  • Cisco is providing security, compute and Service Provider solutions.
  • Dell Technologies. An essential technology company in the data era, Dell Technologies is enabling Telecom network operators to extend their capabilities, moving beyond today's connectivity to offer new enterprise services that will ignite broad industry innovations and create new revenue streams.
  • Dubber's Voice Intelligence Cloud plans to integrate and be interoperable with IBM Cloud for Telecommunications, to help enable providers to deliver next generation Unified Call Recording and Voice AI Services on one cloud platform.
  • Enghouse Networks. Through IBM Cloud, Enghouse Networks offers Telecommunications service providers the ability to Plan, Design, Engineer, Provision, Operate, Monitor, Protect and simplify network complexity in a vendor-agnostic, hybrid cloud network environment. 
  • Equinix, Inc. plans to host the IBM Cloud for Telecommunications solution on its globally distributed automated bare metal platform.
  • F5 Networks Inc. contributes traffic management, security for layers 2-7 and Kubernetes ingress control along with other virtual infrastructure solutions to enhance and support application services in the telco network cloud.
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise delivers a leading, comprehensive portfolio of cloud-enabled software, carrier-grade services, and open, secure infrastructure offerings to accelerate innovation for telco cloud and edge solutions.
  • Intel brings a broad ecosystem, enabling new use cases and usage models from the edge to the cloud. Emphasizing an open-based and innovative approach helps to accelerate deployments that are built on Intel technologies with performance and security in mind. 
  • Juniper Networks Inc. Contrail is an end-to-end software-based network architecture delivering secure, consistent policy to applications regardless of their location and the physical underlay.
  • Kaloom offers a fully programmable and automated cloud networking solution that is disrupting how edge and data center networks are built, managed and operated.
  • Lenovo's purpose-built edge servers and storage along with Lenovo’s infrastructure automation software (LOC-A) have been validated with IBM edge application manager to provide easy to consume edge infrastructure.
  • Linux Foundation Networking (LFN) facilitates collaboration and operational excellence across open source networking projects
  • MATRIXX Software provides a highly performant network application for charging and monetization of network resources.
  • Mavenir helps wireless service providers with comprehensive end to end software applications that transforms their networks to run on the cloud.
  • Metaswitch, a Microsoft company, provides cloud native IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) network functions that help enable the deployment of highly scalable rich communication services on Red Hat OpenShift.
  • Movius provides mobile-unified communication software that enables frontline employees to securely communicate with their clients across compliant digital voice and messaging channels.
  • NetApp, Inc. helps customers simplify the adoption and readiness of 5G by providing advanced data services to enable hybrid cloud environments that extend to the Edge, and by integrating these data services with container orchestration platforms such as OpenShift and IBM Cloud Pak solutions.
  • NETSCOUT Systems provides visibility of digital services to prevent or resolve performance and security problems regardless of the technologies involved. We call it Visibility without Borders.
  • Nokia and IBM plan to deploy a fully functioning cloud-based 5G network on the IBM Cloud infrastructure, designed to help service providers to quickly deploy and deliver private 5G solutions to their Enterprise customers
  • Nuance Communications, Inc.'s enterprise solutions power over 31 billion intelligent customer interactions annually with cloud-native, AI-powered customer engagement technology to deliver industry-best digital, voice, and biometric security innovations.
  • O-RAN ALLIANCE. As a member of the O-RAN ALLIANCE, IBM Cloud for Telecommunication will help to transform the radio access networks towards open, intelligent, virtualized and fully interoperable RAN.
  • Palo Alto Networks, Inc. for Zero Trust 5G Security.
  • Portworx by Pure Storage will provide a platform of complementary data services for data rich applications running on OpenShift on IBM Satellite, including high availability, data protection, data security, multi-cloud mobility and automated capacity management required to run enterprise applications in production.  
  • Red Hat will help enable the IBM Cloud for Telecommunication Ecosystem partners to run their solutions on Red Hat OpenShift and Red Hat OpenStack Platform.
  •'s cloud-native solution for Telco provides end-to-end automation for the deployment, scaling, and lifecycle management of any data- or network-intensive applications – all the way from RAN, Core, Edge, and OSS/BSS on Kubernetes.
  • Samsung, IBM, and Red Hat are collaborating to bring AI-driven solutions for clients transforming to Industry 4.0 and beyond by leveraging the power of secure 5G devices, cloud-native 5G networks, and advanced edge computing platforms.
  • SevOne, a Turbonomic Company, delivers network performance management solutions with modern monitoring and analytics.
  • Sinefa plans to provide Digital Experience Monitoring for remote workers and SD-WAN by leveraging the IBM Telco Cloud.
  • Spirent delivers automated test and assurance solutions to accelerate the design, development and deployment of 5G, cloud and virtualized networks.
  • THALES Cloud Licensing and Protection helps organizations protect their most sensitive data and software, secure the cloud and achieve compliance through advanced encryption, access management and software licensing solutions.
  • TM Forum will be working with IBM Cloud for Telecommunication to help unlock the possibilities of 5G by enabling the industry to build self-sustaining networks
  • Travelping accelerates the provision of mobile 2G to 5G Networks, the turnkey solutions to the Telecommunications, Automotive, IoT, Manufacturing, Energy, Financial Services, and Hospitality businesses.
  • Turbonomic Application Resource Management (ARM) helps automatically assure applications get the resources they need to perform, no matter where they run or how they are architected.
  • Zerto will integrate with IBM Cloud Satellite as an embedded solution providing data protection, disaster recovery and mobility solutions.

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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