Microsoft Announces Azure Operator Nexus for Telcos at MWC 2023

By Alex Passett, Editor  |  February 28, 2023

MWC Barcelona 2023 (Mobile World Congress (News - Alert)) is well underway, hosted by Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA). The annual trade show is a must-attend for innovators in the mobile and telco industries looking to rattle their ecosystems, and powerhouse names recognize this. (Amazon, for instance, released its AWS Telco Network Builder news a whole week ahead of the event itself.)

Then, it was Microsoft’s (News - Alert) turn up to bat.

In a statement, Microsoft recognized that modern network infrastructure can drive a lower TCO for telco partners while (at the same time) helping them modernize their existing monetization models and efficiencies.

And so, Microsoft excitedly announced the public preview of Azure Operator Nexus (i.e. the expansion of its Azure Operator Distributed Services private preview). As a next-gen, hybrid cloud platform designed for telco service providers, partners can run their own carrier-grade workloads both on-prem and also now on Azure.

Jason Zander, Microsoft’s EVP for Strategic Missions and Tech, explained a lot about this Azure announcement.

“The future hyperscale cloud is going to look a lot different than the cloud we have today,” he said. “That future — this intelligent cloud, this intelligent edge — has to be powered by a modern network infrastructure. This is going to enable a new type of application and we need a new connectivity paradigm for that.”

With this, Microsoft is on track to offer applications that can be connected anywhere, anytime, worldwide. This natural extension of the cloud (and also an opportunity for Microsoft to partner with more telcos) gave birth to what has shaped up to be Azure Operator Nexus.

“This is a combination of hardware, hardware acceleration and the software that goes with it,” Zander continued. “This is important, because Microsoft has a set of edge cloud hardware — but it wasn’t built for this. When you see vendors talking about using the same thing to run an IT workload as they are planning on running a telco network, it doesn’t 1:1 work. So that’s exactly why we’ve made this multi-year investment.”

According to Zander, telco giant AT&T (News - Alert) has already made the decision to adopt Azure Operator Nexus platform over time, for example. This came with the expectation of lowering TCO, leveraging simplified AI-powered operations, and improving time to market with the best-possible core services.

“AT&T is our Azure Operator Nexus flagship customer,” a Microsoft representative wrote, “and the results so far have been incredibly positive.”

Below are a few long-story-short overview details about the platform:

  • Azure Operator Nexus is purpose-built to bring carrier-grade performance and resiliency while delivering operators mobile core and vRAN network functions securely on-prem (i.e. far-edge, near-edge, and core datacenters) as well as on-Azure regions for rich Azure experiences.
  • Telco operators will, as a result, have consistent environments that allow for the seamless moving of network function workloads, based on application needs and economics.
  • Both on-prem and on-Azure deployment models are Linux-based (in alignment with network function needs, telecommunications industry trends, and relevant open-source communities), and the service supports virtualized network functions (VNFs) and containerized network functions (CNFs).

A wealth of additional Azure Operator Nexus info can be found on Microsoft’s Azure for Operators blog here.

Edited by Greg Tavarez
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