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MWC24: Azure for Operators Unleashes Azure Operator Nexus

MWC24: Azure for Operators Unleashes Azure Operator Nexus

The News: Azure for Operators announced that Azure Operator Nexus is now generally available. Azure Operator Nexis is a hybrid cloud platform designed for telecommunications operators, automating the lifecycle management of infrastructure and tenant workloads. Read the full blog on the Microsoft website.

MWC24: Azure for Operators Unleashes Azure Operator Nexus

Analyst Take: Azure for Operators (AfO) continues to show its unwavering commitment to driving innovation across the mobile ecosystem through its Azure Operator Nexus platform, supporting a diverse array of virtualized and containerized network functions. It offers benefits such as decreased operational complexity, an integrated platform for compute, network, and storage, access to Azure services, as well as unified administration.

During MWC 2024, I met with Steve Gleave, Marketing Director, and Simon Dredge, Senior Product Marketing Manager, and they updated me on where AfO is going with its cloud native solutions for mobile networks strategy and I had the opportunity to join Jason Hogg, GM, AfO, on the NMG panel that focused on why telcos and partners are integral in the expanding mobile ecosystem move to edge AI.

Key insights and takeaways from our conversation included that cloud-native network infrastructure not only enables the provision of differentiated services, such as network slicing and private 5G connectivity, but also paves the way for operators to transcend traditional connectivity roles and embrace AI-infused networks. This evolution is crucial for addressing the burgeoning demand for AI inferencing at the edge and on devices, thereby positioning telecom operators at the forefront of this technological wave.

I find that the Azure Operator Nexus proposition is reinforced by key AfO portfolio offerings such as Azure Operator Insights, an AI-based, fully managed services that targets streamlining the ingestion, transformation, and analysis of data from massive and intricate distributed telecom networks. The offering is based on a AI-infused modern data mesh architecture that is purpose-designed for cost efficiency and performance. Essentially, Operator Insights is designed specifically for telecom operator workloads, enabling operators to better understand and optimize network scenarios such as the subscriber quality of experience (QoE) and network health.

Azure Operator Nexus: Right-sizing Mobile Workloads for Telcos

With the new updates, Azure Operator Nexus now offers sizing flexibility to meet the unique demands of telecom operator deployment and capacity demands as well as fulfill total cost of ownership (TCO) objectives. This includes massive high throughput (1.6 Tbps) deployments through small to medium sized deployments.

These options include 400G BOM, 100G BOM, Singe Rack BOM, and smaller deployments such as mobile edge compute (MEC) deployment BOM. For example, 400G BOM is designed for high throughput, supporting up to eight compute racks, each with a pair of top-of-the-rack switches (ToRs) for redundancy, eight to sixteen workload servers, and two management servers. This option provides 1.6 terabits of throughput to each rack and each server has two 2X100G NIC cards, enabling deployments up to 13,312 usable vCPUs.

MWC24: Azure for Operators Unleashes Azure Operator Nexus
Image Source: Microsoft

Moreover, I find that Azure Operator Nexus is ready to transform telecom operations with its high throughput of up to 400 Gbps per server, offering a unified solution for compute, storage, and networking. This can streamline and simplify lifecycle management through automation, allowing for more flexible deployment, updates, and monitoring of network functions and applications.

Now Azure Operator Nexus can fulfill the topmost mobile workload optimization objectives of telecom operators including a comprehensive API-first approach, infrastructure-as-code methodology to ensure more intuitive management that uses Azure DevOps and GitOps, integrated network fabric and workload, automated telco operations, and the Nexus Ready program of pre-vetted ecosystem partners.

Azure Operator Nexus offers additional capabilities that warrant spotlighting including security, observability, networking, and Network Packet Broker features. From my view, the security capabilities are integral to the platform’s differentiation as its security framework emphasizes “Secure by Default” and an “Assume Breach” approach, using Microsoft’s cloud-native security tools for augmented protection.

It integrates Microsoft Defender for Cloud for comprehensive security capabilities across both cloud and on-premises environments, including vulnerability assessments, hybrid cloud security, threat protection alerts, and compliance assessments. Plus, Operator Nexus offers specific protection for bare metal machines and Kubernetes clusters through Microsoft Defender for Endpoint and Microsoft Defender for Containers. The framework underpins the shared responsibility model in cloud security, reminding users of their role in maintaining security within their environments.

MWC24: Azure for Operators Unleashes Azure Operator Nexus
Image Source: Microsoft

From my perspective, Azure Operator Nexus can gain valuable mind share since Microsoft is not taking its eye off telco security priorities throughout hybrid cloud implementations. At MWC 2024, I found that the preponderance of cloud-related conversations immersed in AI/GenAI at the benign expense of security. Now AfO can give telecom operators extra piece of mind by showing that security is consistently integral to the platform’s development road map and vision.

Takeaways: Azure Operator Nexus Ready to Thrive

I find that AfO’s strategy of fostering innovation from the edge to the cloud, in collaboration with its customers and partners, aims to build solutions that are open, and efficient. From my perspective, the general availability of Azure Operator Nexus exemplifies the company’s strategic commitment to empowering telecom operators with security, performance, and efficiency, ensuring that telecom services can fulfill the demands of challenging hybrid cloud environments and paving the way for sustained mobile services innovation.

Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

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Author Information

Ron is an experienced, customer-focused research expert and analyst, with over 20 years of experience in the digital and IT transformation markets, working with businesses to drive consistent revenue and sales growth.

He is a recognized authority at tracking the evolution of and identifying the key disruptive trends within the service enablement ecosystem, including a wide range of topics across software and services, infrastructure, 5G communications, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), analytics, security, cloud computing, revenue management, and regulatory issues.

Prior to his work with The Futurum Group, Ron worked with GlobalData Technology creating syndicated and custom research across a wide variety of technical fields. His work with Current Analysis focused on the broadband and service provider infrastructure markets.

Ron holds a Master of Arts in Public Policy from University of Nevada — Las Vegas and a Bachelor of Arts in political science/government from William and Mary.

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