Google announced another partnership – this time with Intel – to bolster its Anthos for Telecom product launched last year. Telecom "is a pretty big area of investment for us," explained Shailesh Shukla, VP and general manager for Google Cloud's networking effort.
And despite its mammoth size, Google doesn't think it can tackle the industry alone. "We are bringing together an entire ecosystem," Shukla added. Shukla explained that there are three main elements to Google's new partnership with Intel:
- Google Cloud will support Intel's FlexRAN reference software, which is designed to allow network operators and equipment vendors to build 5G operations using Intel's silicon.
- Intel will add Google's Anthos for Telecom to its lab in New Mexico, allowing potential customers to test out their services on top of the platform prior to deployments.
- Google and Intel will team up with other software vendors and developers to create dozens of use cases for 5G and edge computing across industries like retail, healthcare, manufacturing and media.
Dan Rodriguez, VP and general manager of Intel's Network Platforms Group, explained that the partnership is about ensuring the companies' products are "pretested and precertified." Doing so will allow Google and Intel – along with their network operator, software and hardware partners – to more quickly deploy products and solutions for either regular consumers or enterprises.
Shukla outlined a number of specific use cases that he said exemplified what Google and Intel are trying to do. In one example, retail stores could deploy connected video cameras that would monitor shoppers' actions in order to make decisions about stocking and promotions. Such a system would leverage video analytics running on the edge and cloud computing capabilities of Google paired with networks based on Intel's designs and silicon.
Already Shukla said Major League Baseball is using Anthos to monitor video feeds inside baseball stadiums. One use case from such a setup would allow fans to immediately see the trajectory of a player's pitch – is it inside or outside of the strike zone?
Naturally, both Shukla and Intel's Rodriguez nodded to the potential for open RAN to aid in their efforts. They said the open RAN trend – which promises to allow network operators to mix and match components from a variety of vendors – would support more innovation within the networking space.
Google's new pairing with Intel represents another step along the company's path into telecom and networking. Google is hoping to encourage service providers to put their own IT and networking software into its cloud – at the same time, it's also working to encourage enterprises to use its software to deploy their own private wireless networks. In pursuit of this goal, Google is taking a magnanimous approach by designing Anthos for Telecom on Kubernetes that can be inserted into other clouds, such as those from Microsoft or Amazon.
Under CEO Thomas Kurian, Google Cloud has been hiring top executives around the world to break into the telecom market. And the company already has some progress to show: For example, it announced a tie-up with vendor Nokia last month; separately, Canadian network operator Telus signed up for Google's cloud for 5G and edge computing.
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