Google’s Anthos is winning telco buy-in

  • With Nokia signing cloud partnerships with, Amazon, Microsoft and now Google Cloud, it’s betting on a full-on multi-cloud approach 
  • Multi-cloud strategies are also being adopted by many CSPs
  • Google’s Anthos appears to be one important way to make the whole multi-cloud approach viable

The unifying nature of Google Anthos, the managed applications platform that lets users run Kubernetes and other workloads consistently across all the different cloud environments, looks set to gain favour with a telecoms community that wants to adopt a multi-cloud strategy but which is still grappling with a lack of operational consistency between the various cloud platforms. 

“One of the reasons we’re excited about Anthos,” says Neil McRae, Managing Director of Architecture & Technology Strategy and Chief Architect at BT, “is because, in every telco and public cloud, everything’s slightly different, so it can be very challenging when you’re bringing a myriad of applications together.” For instance, he says, the 5G core can have 40 or 50 different workloads, and sometimes the core itself can involve two or three vendors.  

Look at things like Google Anthos, advises McRae, who claims he told Nokia’s Basil Alwan back in 2019 (but since departed) to put all his software on Google Anthos “because it will make it much easier for CSPs to deploy it, and I think that’s turning out to be true,” he says.

McRae was speaking during a recent TelecomTV-hosted panel session (with audience questions) which revealed the extent to which Google’s Anthos is becoming a real focus for many telcos as they try to figure out the best way forward for their multi-cloud and edge cloud strategies. The online event posed the question “Why Cloud Native and why now?”, in the light of Google Cloud and Nokia’s announcement of a  partnership designed to accelerate CSPs’ cloud-native 5G readiness (You can watch the whole event here).  

It quickly emerged that top of telco mind was the need to break out of what Tim Smith, VP of Cloud and Network Services Europe for Nokia and other speakers, said was the old approach of  dragging the full cost of new capabilities and enabling platforms along with them each time a new market was tackled. Avoiding that syndrome through decoupling cost and capabilities required an increasing level of platform agility, said Smith. In other words CSPs needed to develop an infrastructure that could be quickly re-composed to tackle new applications without outsized incremental costs. And CSPs needed a way to concentrate their efforts on particular customers or segments, a task that could be made much easier with proper use of the edge and the ever-improving ability of the networks to move workloads about. 

Smith says that a strategic imperative for Nokia was therefore to have all its capabilities “fully cloud native” and follow that through with an ‘any-cloud strategy’ so that its capabilities could be delivered on and in any environment - bare metal, private cloud, public cloud or on the edge. This looks likely to be a strategy already being followed by many in the industry, and the multi-cloud nature of Anthos has made it a natural fit for Nokia.

On the same basis, and going by the input from our CSP speakers, many operators have reached a similar conclusion. Telefonica in Germany, for instance, is partnering with Nokia and Google, while the TMForum’s Chief Technology Officer, George Glass, says that while many telcos have been developing their own edge technology, the Forum is increasingly seeing partnerships being formed with multiple cloud providers who are using different aspects of the technology with each partner. With cloud at the core and edge already, Glass says he foresees a species of cloud eventually turning up on the devices as well. 

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