The News: Ericsson and Google Cloud announced a partnership to jointly develop 5G and edge cloud solutions to help communication service providers (CSPs) digitally transform and to unlock new enterprise and customer use cases. Now they are working together to develop new solutions at Ericsson’s Silicon Valley D-15 Labs, an innovation center where advanced solutions and technologies can be developed and tested on a live, multi-layers 5G platform. Ericsson and Google Cloud have already completed functional onboarding of Ericsson 5G on Anthos to enable telco edge and on-premise use cases for CSPs and enterprises. Read the Ericsson release here.
MWC 2021: Ericsson’s Google Cloud Alliance Bolsters Partnership Momentum
Analyst Take: The expanded alliance between Ericsson and Google Cloud is good news for the mobile ecosystem as vertical industries with edge presences, such as CSPs, retailers, manufacturers, transport businesses, healthcare, and media/entertainment providers, are challenged to build more digitized businesses and provide new immersive digital experiences for their customers. Ericsson and Google Cloud are already collaborating in supporting CSP digital transformation and application migration through cloud-native, container-based capabilities.
I see the alliance’s collaboration in piloting enterprise applications on a live network with TIM as providing immediate ecosystem-wide credence. The project aims to automate the functions of TIM’s core 5G network and cloud-based applications, will use TIM’s Telco Cloud Infrastructure, Google Cloud solutions, and Ericsson’s 5G core network and orchestration technologies.
In parallel, during the lead up to MWC 2021, Rakuten Mobile, NEC, and Intel announced that they have achieved a performance of 640 Gbps per server for the containerized User Plane Function (UPF) on the containerized 5G SA (Standalone) core jointly developed by Rakuten Mobile and NEC running on the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP).
I believe both alliances indicate that implementing 5GC across cloud environments will be a key proving ground for both 5GC SA (Standalone) capabilities and public cloud readiness to support production 5G deployments during the remainder of 2021 and throughout 2022.
Not to be outdone, during MWC 2021 Ericsson announced the set-up of Japan’s first multi-operator RAN (MORAN) with KDDI and SoftBank, a counter move I see directed at Rakuten Mobile (as well as NTT DoCoMo). In addition, Ericsson in collaboration with Australia’s Telstra, unveiled the successful completion of a 5G DA data call (113 km), enabling the assertion of attaining the planet’s longest distance 5G call to date.
In the lead up to MWC 2021, Ericsson made a big splash by announcing that it is expanding its Cloud RAN portfolio through partnership with Intel, further accelerating the shift to a virtualized RAN, and also extending its Cloud RAN offering to include support for 5G mid-band and Massive MIMO deployments.
With mid-band spectrum, I anticipate that CSPs can capitalize on their 5G spectral assets to deploy services rapidly, while also delivering a more interactive and immersive experience to mobile broadband users. Ericsson collaborated with CSP customers like Verizon to develop the new Cloud RAN mid-band enhancements. As the alliance strengthens, I expect that the mobile ecosystem can produce more powerful, comprehensive virtualized RAN solutions for mid-band that meet today’s needs and can scale for future requirements.
Ericsson Google Cloud Alliance Aligns with CSP Priorities
Our research indicates that CSPs are making it abundantly clear that avoiding lock-in purgatory in working with cloud providers is a top priority. Pursuing a multi-cloud strategy is already built into the CSP’s organizational DNA and cloud journey decision making. The strategy is fundamentally sound, since each cloud provider has its own cost model and its own competitive advantages. The major public cloud providers offer benefits such as extensive, multi-regional physical locations, AI/ML maturity, and flexible cost models.
Ericsson’s Google Cloud alliance MWC 2021 announcement aligns with its cloud collaborations with AWS and Microsoft Azure. For example, in May AWS extended its long-term partnership with Ericsson to certify Ericsson’s mission-critical Telecom BSS product portfolio on AWS, certainly with an eye on fulfilling CSP 5G monetization goals. Ericsson and Microsoft Azure are collaborating on connected vehicle use cases that combine the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform (MCVP) with Ericsson’s Connected Vehicle Cloud (CVC).
Ericsson’s alliances with the Big 3 hyperscalers counters the recent cloud alliance moves of key 5G systems and solutions rival Nokia, who is proactively promoting its cloud credentials in supporting CSP cloud journeys. Due primarily to geopolitical factors, key 5G systems rival Huawei is limited in its ability to work with the Big 3 hyperscalers, although it is investing heavily to build out its own cloud capabilities with emphasis on regions and countries where it does not face bans or restrictions.
Key Takeaways on the Ericsson Google Cloud Alliance
I see the Ericsson and Google Cloud alliance expansion as a major 5G ecosystem move that is integral to meeting the prime CSP objective of avoiding lock-in with cloud partners and maintaining flexibility in the orchestration and distribution of 5G-related workloads across their cloud journeys. Moreover, I expect the alliance to aid enterprises across industry verticals, such as automotive, transportation, and manufacturing, in boosting overall efficiencies by lowering workload latencies through increased use and orchestration of edge computing resources. Now I am looking forward to seeing the alliance’s application and vertical use case outcomes from their 5G cloud solution pilots at TIM’s facilities in Italy.
Disclosure: Futurum Research is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.