Nokia partnering with Google Cloud, AWS and Microsoft to bring open and cloud RAN to the edge with both operator and private enterprise networks

In October last year, Nokia CEO Pekka Lundmark, in addition to sharing Q3 financials and giving a first-look at an organizational overhaul, gave a fairly detailed breakdown of where the company and its customers are going in regard to 5G. In a review of the transcript of his commentary, a focus on open and cloud RAN stands out which adds important context to a trio of announcements from Nokia this morning around partnerships with hyperscalers Google Cloud, AWS and Microsoft Azure that speak to the role of distributed cloud in delivering 5G solutions to enterprise verticals.

Out of 5G, enterprises are looking to use connectivity, compute and data derived from IoT sensors to automate processes, save money and improve outcomes. As far as how hyperscalers fit in, it’s about flexible compute that can handle high capacity, real-time data flows joined with 5G in an IT-like manner that’s familiar to the CIO’s office.

As Lundmark said last year: “The shift from static ownership to instant access the move of web-scale companies into the edge cloud and Nokia’s own move into cloud-native functionality that can be deployed on cloud infrastructure from any major cloud provider…We see value migrating from integrated systems to cloud-native software systems…We’re well-positioned to maintain strong momentum in this [enterprise]business, as digitization and automation in industrial segments drive increased investments in technologies, such as private wireless and cloud solutions. Third, we see a longer-term opportunity to lead the network as a service business models for operators, enterprises and web-scale customers. This change offers a broad opportunity for Nokia to provide a trusted software-led and cloud-based network capability that can be rapidly integrated, deployed and self managed as a complete service.”

Lundmark called his shot as it were given that today (March 15), Nokia announced partnerships with three of the biggest hyperscalers in the game, Google Cloud, AWS and Microsoft Azure, companies that are also independently investing in their telco businesses. See:

With Google Cloud, Nokia is focused on developing solutions combining its integrated RAN, Open RAN, vRAN and edge products with Google’s edge and application ecosystem. Today the companies are working to run Nokia’s 5G vDU and vCU with the Google’s Anthos edge platform; there’s also plans to test Nokia’s standalone core and vCU on Anthos.

With Amazon Web Services, Nokia is working up proof of concepts around cloud RAN and how to use AWS to support 5G deployments and put together new use cases. According to Nokia, “The initiative will see engineering teams from both companies research how the combination of [Nokia’s RAN portfolio] and edge solutions can operate seamlessly with AWS Outposts. This collaboration will enable…CSPs and enterprises with 5G connectivity to utilize AWS across the topology of the mobile network.”

With Microsoft Azure, the focus on enterprise is even more explicit, focused in on private 4G and 5G private network use cases to “drive end-user business outcomes.” Nokia sketched out a three-stage project: combining its Cloud RAN, Open RAN, RAN Intelligent Controller, and edge cloud with Azure’s Private Edge Zone; integrating the 5G RAN with Azure core (recall Microsoft’s acquisitions of Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch); and “explor[ing]further opportunities to incorporate Nokia Airframe Open Edge server as part of its telco edge strategy.”

In a comment included in the press release regarding the Microsoft partnership, Nokia’s President of Mobile Networks Tommi Uitto said, “Open collaboration is key to the development of new and innovative high-value 5G use cases that will equip our customers with the tools they need for digital transformation. This is part of Nokia’s continued commitment to leading an open mobile future, making it simple for our customers to take advantage of the 5G world helping to drive it forward.”

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