Should telcos embrace public cloud stacks to make life easier and cheaper?

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Martin Taylor, CTO, Metaswitch

As CSPs transform into DSPs, one of the questions of moment is whether or not it makes sense for them to work with public cloud operators. Martin Taylor says Metaswitch's view is that it can, by virtue of advancing the virtualisation agenda.

The notion is this: telcos have struggled to build the telco cloud within which to run virtual network functions. It is, after all a very difficult thing to do, the available tools are hard to work with and solutions reached are, by definition, sub-scale when compared to the likes of Google, Amazon or Microsoft. These companies and others like them have a global cloud presence, scale and the skills to build a stack that is both rich, powerful and attractive to developers and cost-effective to operate thanks to lots of inbuilt automation. The question for telcos is whether or not they can accept change, stop regarding Google and other cloud companies as deadly competitors and move to take advantage of what they can offer?

In essence, the problem is one of business and the primary challenge is that currently an app run on a public cloud is paid for by the minute or hour. That is treated in the accounts as operating expenses and telcos hate adding anything to opex. The classic business model for telcos is to invest in assets and then sweat them as hard as possible for as long as possible to deliver profitable services and running services and apps in the public cloud just doesn't work for telcos.

However, Martin Taylor believes what might work for them is that they build their own physical infrastructure for their own telco cloud and use public cloud software stacks to run on their own assets to provide a much richer and more powerful environment for running their telco VNFs. Telcos could also potentially outsource the operation of that stack to the public cloud operators who can manage it at a much lower cost than any telco ever could.

Martin Taylor also points out that until very recently it was not possible to get public cloud stack software to run on CSP hardware. However, Amazon, Google and Microsoft have at last come to the realisation that not every enterprise wants to run everything in public clouds and are starting to produce hybrid solutions because, while there will always be a need for some workloads to be run in a telco's own data centre on its own assets, there is also a growing demand for flexibility and the ability to move workloads back and forth between private clouds and public clouds and the sector needs a uniform stack to be able to do that.

Filmed at DSP Leaders Forum 2019

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