Andrey Popov -

MWC 2023: IBM and Nokia strike private 5G partnership

Comms tech provider and IT giant become latest to address growing sector so that enterprises can benefit from secure, customised connectivity services enabled by a highly available 5G cloud network

Taking the next steps in a history of combining efforts to support enterprise customers, IBM and Nokia have announced an intention to build a “seamless, simplified private” 5G managed service offering to deliver private 5G solutions on IBM Cloud Satellite to enterprise customers.

Outlining what each partner can bring to the party, Nokia will deploy its expertise in 5G networks and private wireless, while IBM will contribute use case-driven cross-industry knowledge and experience across automation, artificial intelligence and hybrid cloud. The firms see their partnership as a natural next step for collaboration as enterprises drive their digital transformation forward and continue to place considerable emphasis on their network connectivity.

IBM added that as clients innovate at the edge, its Cloud Satellite solution can provide enhanced resiliency, performance, security and compliance capabilities. Additionally, the two companies plan to explore ways to enable service providers to design, automatically build, instantly connect, as well as operate and observe their private 5G environments using a unified management stack.

Going forward, supported by IBM Consulting’s systems integration expertise, Nokia said it would integrate IBM’s Cloud Pak for Network Automation solution into the current joint offering, which IBM has validated for the deployment of IBM Cloud Satellite.

The result, according to the companies, is that service providers may be able to address businesses’ new connectivity demands in a flexible, simplified, automated way that provides them with the ability to potentially offer enterprise connectivity solutions at scale.

At the same time, IBM and Nokia believe enterprises may benefit from secure, customised connectivity services enabled by a highly available 5G cloud network, giving them the ability to run applications elastically and connect across multiple private 5G environments, regardless of their geographic location.

Speaking to Computer Weekly about the partnership, Ciaran Ryan, vice-president of software networking at IBM, said the IT giant saw a serious opportunity in the new partnership with Nokia, addressing initially the needs of large enterprises and in a more focused way than that currently undertaken by the large cloud providers.

“We’re quite excited by this because they can come with the 5G technology, we can come with the enterprise access. Large enterprises are dealing with hybrid distribution of applications from the hyperscalers in the datacentre and out to the edge,” he explained.

“[Yet] there is this feeling [as to whether] are they losing a little bit of control of the network. IBM [has] an application-centric view and we’re very focused on enterprises and how they’re driving the revenue, how to maintain their brand and reputation, etc. It’s all about the application and how we support them with that, maintain that control,” added Ryan.

“[Private] 5G is one of those options. Together, we feel we can automate the roll-out and understanding of a full stack from the prime 5G, to the bare metal hardware…the OS and then what’s happening in automating the deployment of the 5G infrastructure. So we think that is a pretty good combination.”

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