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The Edge

Google Cloud tightens its ties to telecoms

Plowing ahead with a strategy to strengthen ties with the telecom sector, Google Cloud said it has struck a 5G-facing edge computing deal with AT&T, introduced a telco-focused version of its Anthos app platform, and struck up partnerships with two OSS/BSS leaders – Amdocs and Netcracker.

All of that ties into a new Global Mobile Edge Cloud (GMEC) strategy underway at Google Cloud and its initiative to work more closely with telecom operators.

"This is a real step to help telecom companies modernize their infrastructure and their services," said Shailesh Shukla, GM and VP of networking at Google Cloud.

The AT&T partnership is focused on delivering a portfolio of 5G-related edge computing solutions that are supported by Google Cloud and AT&T's edge network. Shukla said this will establish the groundwork for the companies to bring joint products to the market that reach into several industries and use cases, including retail, transportation and manufacturing.

AT&T and Google Cloud didn't announce any specific services they plan to offer, but the combined platform will use Google's AI and analytics capabilities in a way that, for example, could enable a retailer to set up a service that enables stores to understand a shopper's journey from entry to exit and to use that data to inform and expand the retailer's broader strategies, Shukla explained.

AT&T is already working extensively with Microsoft Azure on a number of initiatives, including the operator's edge computing strategy.

In addition, Google Cloud has made its Kubernetes-based Anthos platform, which hosts applications, more suitable for telecom operators by extending it to network edge deployments, making it possible for virtualized functions to be hosted where it makes most sense. Anthos for Telecom, Shukla said, will enable partners to write one version of an application that can operate across multiple private and public cloud platforms.

New partnerships with Amdocs and Netcracker will allow their OSS/BSS systems to run on top of Google Cloud. Canada's Telus is an early mover, as it has already begin to operate Netcracker on Google Cloud for certain digital services. Another BSS player, Optiva, has long partnered with Google Cloud to deliver its capabilities.

Vodafone and Italy's Wind Tre and Telecom Italia are examples of other large service providers working with Google Cloud.

Google Cloud is raising its telecom partnership game as it tries to gain ground in a cloud service market led by AWS and Microsoft Azure. It's also entering the picture as operators continue to explore services and use cases that will drive new revenues and deliver returns on their 5G network investments.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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