Technology Record - Issue 23: Winter 21/22

134 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om enable more agility, reduce costs and make telecommunications more sustainable,” says Kellerhals. “For example, Microsoft partner Nokia is offering a complete AI-as-a-service platform for telecommunication companies, combining Nokia’s telecommunication industry expertise and operations experience with Microsoft’sworld-class cloud andAI capabilities.” By leveraging the cloud and AI, network operators will be able to develop a range of new services and capabilities that could lead to significant benefits for the consumer. According to Rick Lievano, chief technology officer for worldwide telecommunications industry at Microsoft, this will precipitate a shift for telecommunication companies to a business model that is much more focused on technology. “The convergence of the cloud and the network will help operators realise new opportunities and accelerate their transformation from traditional service providers into technology-driven telecommunications companies,” says Lievano. “This transformation will enable them to significantly boost the speed at which they can respond to the changing demands of their customers and easily take advantage of new opportunities. By leveraging analytics, automation and AI – key capabilities provided by the cloud – technology-driven telecommunications companies will support entirely new services while transforming their existing voice services for the 21st century.” To help achieve the telecommunications industry achieve this transformation, Microsoft is taking a focused, collaborative approach, Kellerhals explains. “In our experience, developing these new capabilities will require us to collaborate closely with partners across three areas,” he says. “Firstly, putting the foundations in place by migrating IT workloads to the hybrid cloud and upskilling telecommunications employees. Secondly, co-creating solutions which combine the organisations existing communications services with Microsoft’s existing cloud services and jointly taking them to market. Thirdly, co-innovating by leveraging the organisation’s future communications services roadmap and Microsoft’s cloud services and devices roadmaps.” An example of this approach is Microsoft’s strategic alliance with AT&T, which began with an agreement for AT&T to migrate its non-network workloads to the Azure cloud and work with Microsoft to bring integrated industry solutions to market. In June 2021, the alliance was expanded, with AT&T moving its 5G mobile network to the cloud, providing a path for all of its traffic to be managed using Azure technologies. By using Microsoft’s hybrid and hyperscale infrastructure, AT&T can substantially reduce engineering and development costs, as well as gaining early access to Microsoft’s cloud, AI and edge technology. “Cloud transformation of the network doesn’t happen overnight – it’s a journey which we take along with our partners,” says Lievano. “We recognise the enormous investment and significant legacy that exists across carrier networks, which is why we take an inclusive approach to ensure existing network capabilities move to cloud-native technologies in their own terms and timelines, meeting each operator where they are. We are working closely with standards organisations like GSMA, 3GPP, OpenInfra Foundation, O-Ran Alliance, and others tomake the carrier-grade cloud a reality and help operators thrive in the new digital era.” F E ATUR E