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Vodafone Idea Hires Red Hat for 5G 'Universal Cloud'

Indian telco giant Vodafone Idea is linking more than 100 data centers in a sweeping "universal cloud," using an open source infrastructure based on OpenStack.

Vodafone Idea is using Red Hat OpenStack Platform, and that vendor's Ceph Storage, Ansible Automation Platform and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, "to transform its distributed network data centers to [an] open standards, open interfaces based 'Universal Cloud,'" Red Hat announced Monday.

Vodafone Idea's Universal Cloud will run network, IT and third-party applications across distributed cloud locations. The operator will use "pods" that can be geographically distributed close to end-users, to reduce latency, and will use open APIs to gain access to useful data.

Deployment of the Red Hat OpenStack software is already in progress as Vodafone Idea looks to build a telco cloud platform suitable for 5G operations, Red Hat said in email to Light Reading. Network services being cloudified include mobile packet core, GiLAN and IMS, as well as IT services for internal and external applications, for both the consumer and enterprise.

Additionally, Vodafone Idea plans to establish a DevOps team in collaboration with Red Hat, and deploy Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform to automate workflows and extend self-provisioning to enterprise customers. The telco will work closely with Red Hat Global Services to build new capabilities and execute these initiatives, Red Hat says.


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Vodafone Idea picked IBM, Red Hat's parent company, in a multi-million-dollar deal in May to provide technology to improve customer experience and bring down costs. IBM will handle management and development of Vodafone's cloud and hosting business. The deal was reportedly valued at about $700 million to $800 million.

At the same time, Vodafone Idea named Ericsson as its supplier for cloud packet core technology.

Additionally, Vodafone Group and IBM announced a partnership in January to provide European enterprises with cloud and network services, including a $550 million, eight-year outsourcing deal that sees Vodafone handing over management and development of its cloud and hosting business to IBM.

Vodafone Group owns 44.39% of Vodafone Idea as of the latest quarterly report in June, with Aditya Birla Group owning 27.18% and public shareholders holding the remainder.

Although Vodafone Idea is India's biggest service provider, it faces competitive pressure from two other providers, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel. Vodafone Idea had about 387 million subscribers at the end of June, with RJio in second place at 320 million.

Vodafone Idea is the result of the 2018 merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular. The merger has been problematic, losing subscribers and suffering a significant financial loss as well. The company named a new CEO, Ravinder Takkar, in August, following the resignation of previous head Balesh Sharma, who bowed out for personal reasons. Sharma was named CEO following completion of the merger in August 2018.

IBM closed its $34 billion Red Hat acquisition in July. Red Hat's financials were a bright spot in an otherwise lukewarm quarterly earnings report last week. In addition to IBM's deals with Vodafone Idea and Vodafone Group, IBM is also working on moving AT&T to the cloud, while Red Hat OpenStack is integral to Turkcell's migration to cloud infrastructure.

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— Mitch Wagner Visit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on TwitterJoin my Facebook GroupRead my blog: Things Mitch Wagner Saw Executive Editor, Light Reading

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