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MWC 2019: 5G driving telcos into the cloud, says VMware CEO

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger explained how the requirements of 5G mobile networks are helping to push more telcos into the organisation’s arms

VMware is plotting to exploit the mobile industry’s move to 5G to advance the conversation around network functions virtualisation (NFV) and telco clouds, seizing on the potential of the upcoming mobile network standard to do for operator networks what it has already done for the enterprise IT stack.

Speaking at Mobile World Congress, currently underway in Barcelona, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said the supplier planned to leverage its core virtualisation technology to help mobile operators build an infrastructure that scales far into the future, helps them build, deploy and run services that let them transition from 4G to 5G, and lets them introduce cloud architectures into their core network environments.

“We can build cloud-like infrastructures that create efficiency for you at the network level, but also give you application agility so you can roll out services with higher rapidity and efficacy, helping your top-line too,” said Gelsinger. “A telco cloud meets the unique requirements of telcos, positioning them for greater operational efficiency.

“We don’t make radio antennae, but we’ll help virtualise them. We help people build infrastructure that scales, deploys applications, and is secure and automated.”

Gelsinger also raised questions over 5G use cases and, like others, predicted they won’t necessarily centre the needs of consumers – at least at first. For eight out of every 10 operators, he said, the first killer 5G use cases will be around edge computing and the internet of things (IoT).

Such use cases, he said, will make 5G a far more integral part of the overall IT stack than its predecessors, hence its attractiveness to a firm like VMware.

VMware claims to have about 60 operators already using its technology in their networks, including Vodafone in the UK, Oredoo in the Middle East, NTT and Singtel in APAC, and AT&T in North America.

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With 5G currently a hot topic for political junkies as well as technology experts, Gelsinger also shared some perspective on global trends, noting that different regions have notable different trends and issues currently playing out as commercial 5G moves closer to reality.

“Europe has better spectrum policies – in the US, it’s not as favourable,” he said. “The US isn’t allowing Huawei – and in some cases they’re a leader – so that can be a problem, but the US is already demonstrating and investing in 5G use cases. The race is on, and I think that’s wonderful.”

Ahead of Mobile World Congress, VMware signed a new global alliance with Ericsson with the express purpose of making deployment and operation of combined Ericsson applications and VMware’s vCloud NFV platform easier for operators.

The collaboration will span Ericsson’s portfolio of virtual network functions, billing and charging solutions, automation and orchestration, with vCloud offering faster, cost-effective and tested virtualised solutions.

The two firms have also invested in a new lab to test, certify, system verify, optimise and document platform interoperability between them.

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