Just what are you up to, Mr Hyperscaler? Unpacking AWS’s private 5G thunderbolt
That headline; is it a thunderbolt, really, this private 5G package from Amazon Web Services (AWS)? No, because nothing in it is a surprise. We know AWS is serious about 5G, even if it views it as another application, albeit a functional one, for its distributed compute engines. For AWS, private 5G represents a box-fresh network to connect new workloads in new workplaces, and to extend its ‘elastic’ model of ever-increasing returns.
It is the same for the other hyperscalers, too. Except Microsoft’s essential focus, arguably, is to own the enterprise applications riding on top of the functional networking and compute layers; the fact 5G has been made into an enterprise application explains its twin-purchase of Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch last year and its more aggressive go-to-market strategy at the ‘far’ edge, on-site with enterprises.
But telcos are walking a fine line with Microsoft; the likes of Vodafone and Verizon, among others, are taking its Azure Edge Zones / Stack Edge products for on-site edge-cloud services. Meanwhile, Google Cloud’s guiding light is the data, itself, and making it work for enterprises. Its channel strategy appears to be more agreeable to the old old telco guard; like AWS – taken at face-value; like Microsoft, second-guessed – it talks about partnerships.
This goes for all the app-side activity, including for private 5G. Except, there is talk that Google Cloud is developing its own 5G core-network package with Altran and Capgemini, so perhaps the jury is out. But the jury is out, full stop; all the hyperscalers are playing-5G because they all want the workloads 5G might just unleash in the workplace, as part of some mythical industrial reset.
But AWS is more straightforward, arguably, and more fierce for it; the workloads are all it wants, where Microsoft and Google Cloud have other agendas, besides – and Microsoft’s, according to its business profile and its business activity, is to own enterprise 5G as-an-application. So back to the headline; this private 5G missive is not a thunderbolt from AWS, because its intentions are plain, and because most of the pieces were in place already.
It has not yet named its cellular-side partners – and these are ‘partners’ for AWS, just as independent software vendors (ISVs) are cherished by hyperscalers as codependents in the Android, Azure, and AWS ecosystems that have come to underpin the consumer and enterprise IT domains. But a quick scan of its books shows them up, probably. Certainly, any number are delighted to be linked with AWS in easily-found PR missives about past works.
It is all AWS branded, to start. But AWS has confirmed more will be added, for every part of the 5G componentry – to the point, presumably, their brands and products are revealed, rated, and optional for enterprises in a private 5G marketplace, as part of its AWS Marketplace. Like Android for enterprises, with private 5G going from an app in a drawer to a drawer-full of star-rated apps.
So, what’s new? Is this just a PR stunt, to assemble a bunch of clearly-signed working relations into a family of edge network-and-compute products? Where’s the thunderbolt? Well, in just that – to come to market with such a well-worked package, and clarify a vision to make private-5G mass-market. And to do it as AWS, part of the fourth biggest company in the world.
When the third- and fifth-biggest respond in kind, with new private-5G thunderbolts of their own, then the old telecoms sector will dance, either joining a new industrial jig, or else hopping about like cowboys in the crossfire. But – and it is a big but, which analysts (see here) identify as a crucial diversion for the private 5G market – this AWS thunderbolt appears to be laser-targeted, as an easy plug-and-play private 5G solution.
It won’t work for critical industry; it won’t work for complex industry. The archetypal Industry 4.0 market requires specialist treatment, the argument goes, and not dumbed-down middle-of-the-road 5G. It is the difference between a classical symphony and elevator music; and the likes of Verizon and Vodafone, Ericsson and Nokia, Siemens and Bosch, may yet be the ones to blow the deep OT brass and pull the fine RF strings in orchestration of more serious-minded private 5G.
But all of that is a long introduction to the main event; in a separate piece, the analyst community discusses how AWS has captured the imagination of the excitable private 5G market, and what the implications of its new private 5G product might mean for the sector, and for mobile operators, network vendors, and everyone in between. Go here for that story.
Enterprise IoT Insights and RCR Wireless are holding a free webinar on Thursday December 9 with Google Cloud on: The Role of Hyperscalers in 5G and Edge. The session – at 8am PT / 11am ET / 4pm GMT / 5PM CET – also features panellists from AT&T and Telecom Argentina. To attend, sign up here, or click on the image below.