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Google Cloud staffs up for telecom push

Google Cloud is getting serious about telecommunications. Under CEO Thomas Kurian, Google Cloud in recent months has unveiled a new strategy and technology set for the telecom industry and is now in the process of hiring top executives around the world to sell the offering to a wide range of network operators.

"Whether it's infrastructure modernization or improving the economics of 5G and edge, our goal is to help CSPs [communication service providers] digitally transform their businesses," a Google Cloud representative wrote in response to questions from Light Reading. "We're in a unique position to leverage our network, our data- and AI-driven technologies and our open cloud approach to deliver strategic, operational efficiencies."

Perhaps most importantly, Kurian hired George Nazi in May to lead Google Cloud's new Telecommunications, Media and Entertainment, and Gaming (TMEG) division. Before Google Cloud, Nazi was a senior managing director at Accenture leading its global Communication & Media Industry division, which sits within its Communication Media and Technology (CMT) group. Before Accenture, Nazi served in executive positions at Alcatel-Lucent, BT, WorldCom and Level 3.

Nazi takes over in part from John Honeycutt, a former Discovery executive brought into Google Cloud in 2019 with a focus on the media and entertainment industry.

According to representatives from Google Cloud, Nazi is responsible for the vision, mission and strategy for Google Cloud in the TMEG segment. The company added that Shailesh Shukla is Google Cloud's new VP of products and GM for networking in telecommunications, handling product management. Shukla moved to Google Cloud last year from Neustar and, before that, Cisco.

Nazi and Shukla aren't the only top-tier telecom executives to join Google Cloud in recent months. Other noteworthy hires include Majed Al Amine (formerly of Huawei, Etisalat and Motorola Solutions), Sebastian Barros (formerly of Ericsson), Manish Gupta (formerly of Oracle), Amol Phadke (formerly of Accenture, Alcatel-Lucent and BT), Kevin Shatzkamer (formerly of Dell and Brocade), Gabriele Di Piazza (formerly of VMware), Anirban Sengupta (formerly of VMware and Cisco), Nima Badiey (formerly of Pivotal Software and VMware), Prashanth Venugopal (formerly of VMware, Cisco and Ericsson) and Kyle Forster (founder of Big Switch Networks).

Kurian himself joined Google Cloud in January of last year following a 22-year career at Oracle. He's now rolling out his broad vision for the company, which includes a focus on 15 key countries, five major solution areas and six industries – including telecommunications.

Kurian laid out his telecom plans in a March post titled "Google Cloud unveils strategy for telecommunications industry." He wrote that "we're committed to partnering with the telecommunications industry, providing partners, solutions, and cloud and open source technologies to accelerate digital transformation."

A Google Cloud representative highlighted several recent announcements from the company as underscoring its four key target areas in telecom:

  • Providing "reliable, secure network infrastructure." For example, the company noted it will open a new cloud region in Spain leveraging Telefonica's infrastructure.
  • Unlocking "new consumer and enterprise capabilities with 5G." For example, Google Cloud pointed to its March announcement with AT&T focusing on 5G and mobile edge computing.
  • Improving operational efficiencies. This item is focused squarely on Google Cloud's new Anthos for Telecom offering, which allows the company's telecommunications customers to run their applications wherever they want, including in other clouds.
  • Enabling data- and AI-driven technologies. This item is highlighted by Google Cloud's announcement with Verizon for Contact Center AI.

Google Cloud of course is not the only cloud computing vendor making moves into the telecom space. Companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Oracle are also increasingly sitting alongside the likes of Ericsson, Nokia and Cisco as core networking vendors.

Thus, a big question among those in the telecom industry is whether network operators will eventually be competing against these webscale cloud giants for enterprise customers' networking needs. A Google Cloud representative offered a polite but firm rebuttal to that notion.

"We want to work side by side with CSPs to transform industries like retail, healthcare, and media and entertainment, ultimately delivering faster, more immersive experiences for the end consumer," they wrote. "We're committed to partnering with telecommunication companies to accelerate their digital transformation and unlock value from emerging technologies such as 5G, edge computing, and machine learning and artificial intelligence."

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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