Google Cloud has partnered with its newly signed customer Nokia to develop infrastructure solutions aimed at telcos that are building 5G networks with compute nodes at the edges of those networks.
The goal of the partnership, announced Thursday, is to give telecommunications companies infrastructure they can use to build and deploy cloud-native applications across public and private clouds and edge locations. Tying it all together will be Anthos, Google’s Kubernetes-based application management platform that provides a consistent development and operations in the cloud and on premises.
For years, telcos have been replacing expensive physical appliances that run their networks with virtual network functions running on low-cost commodity servers. This partnership aims at enabling the next step, making those network applications cloud-native, which means they consist of micro-services running in containers and can be developed using continuous integration, continuous deployment (CI/CD) processes.
And, a platform like Anthos, enables users to build applications that can run in the cloud, in their own data centers, or at the edge, using a consistent set of tools.
Nokia itself recently went all-in on cloud, signing a deal that will see it migrate from its own data centers to Google Cloud over a span of five years.
While 5G is merely a standard for wireless data transmission, many of the applications it is expected to enable will likely need compute capacity at the edge, close to where data is being generated, or where systems controlled by the applications are – such as robots in a manufacturing plant – to reduce latency.
Telcos are one of the biggest categories of buyers of edge computing equipment, according to Omdia. Over one-fifth of all servers telcos bought in 2019 were for edge deployments, and Omdia analysts expect one of every three servers they buy in 2024 to be deployed at the edge.
To date, virtualizing network functions has been the primary driver behind these purchases, according to Omdia. But new revenue streams, from things like content delivery, autonomous-vehicle communications, AR/VR, and cloud gaming, are expected to accelerate their spend on this kind of infrastructure.