Home5GNokia signs DAC sales deals with Alibaba, Atos – as private 5G shifts up a gear

Nokia signs DAC sales deals with Alibaba, Atos – as private 5G shifts up a gear

Nokia has announced go-to-market deals for private LTE and 5G with the cloud division of Chinese web giant Alibaba and with French cloud services company Atos. Both companies will integrate and resell its Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) private wireless solution, which is driving much of the Finnish firm’s growth in the enterprise space.

The deals with Alibaba Cloud and Atos mark a step-up in Nokia’s go-to-market strategy. Last week, the firm also announced a major pairing with New York-based managed infrastructure services provider Kyndryl, separated from IBM late last year, to jointly sell and develop private networking and edge computing solutions for the Industry 4.0 market.

Nokia has moved away, decisively in recent months, from selling directly to industrial customers, having built up considerable expertise and experience with them over the last couple of years, since the introduction of its cloud-based DAC platform as an easy plug-and-play solution to drive Industry 4.0 in 2018. The firm ruffled feathers, initially, as it sought to engage directly with enterprises, separately of its old operator channels, in order to regine and popularise the private LTE market, as it was initially.

The sense is, within Nokia circles, the donkey work is done; it has major private LTE or 5G deployments with over 400 large (different) enterprises, with about 50 percent signed directly, and the rest developed through a relatively new stable of Industry 4.0 partners. The new publication of industrial 5G ‘tech blueprints’ by MFA, the old MulteFire Alliance, might be considered an example of its growing confidence and knowledge about the interplay between telecoms and industry.

Nokia has driven the MulteFire narrative, even as certain other members have wavered. It is understood the firm now wants to hand most of the three-step sell-build-run process for private 5G and Industry 4.0 to partners, such as Kyndryl, Atos, and Ailbaba Cloud, among various others, and to remain an inside partner on new deployments as the sector starts to scale.

The new deal with Alibaba Cloud will see the Nokia DAC product, a cut-down cloud-based version of its macro-scale Mobile Private Wireless (MPW) product, included in Alibaba’s service offer to enterprise customers, alongside the Chinese outfit’s own edge-cloud, cloud-cloud, and sundry analytics and IoT products. Alibaba Cloud will target industrial enterprises; a press note majored on its customers’ new facility to (“reliably”) connect their OT assets.

The pair will “settle to jointly create a leading enterprise edge service offering”, they said. The DAC solution also includes a range of over-the-top IoT-sensing and AI sense-making apps, notably Nokia’s own indoor positioning service, plus various edge compute facilities; the latter forms the backbone of its new MX Industrial Edge (MXIE) bundle for critical Industry 4.0 processes. The platform claims open APIs for third parties to integrate their own applications into the network.

Meanwhile, the arrangement with Atos, which has just announced a $68 million ‘factory of the future’ project at its base in Angers, will see the French system integrator offer the Nokia DAC platform to industrial customers alongside its own cloud and edge services, including its new computer vision platform for industrial IoT. Atos acquired London-based video analytics software provider Ipsotek last summer.

The deal is described as a “global partnership”; the offer is described as “a full cloud-based industrial wireless solution with concrete digital apps”. Again, the focus is on the industrial sector, but their vertical agenda stretches also to energy, transport, cities, plus “petrol filling stations or even sport venues”. A press statement suggested a scenario where a railway company uses private 5G for critical comms, and edge-AI to manage crowds, and also to “secure operations with perimeter protection – such as on level crossings or railway tracks”. They said they will also seek to develop new use cases and opportunities for edge-based industrial 5G-and-AI.

Li Li, vice president of cloud intelligence at Alibaba, said: “We will continue to innovate cloud service offerings and benefit our global customers, enabling them to digitalize their operations and deploy new industrial applications on the edge. By leveraging Nokia’s private wireless solution, our enterprise customers will benefit from plug-and-play high-speed, low-latency and, connectivity together with timely intelligence management and processing.”

Jean-Philippe Poirault, head of telecom, media and technology at Atos, said: “Private 5G networks are a key accelerator for businesses and we want to ensure [customers] get the most advanced digital services on the market… Atos plays an essential role in co-developing innovative use cases with CSP for real-time businesses. For Atos, this partnership comes as a stepping stone in its long-standing relationship with Nokia.”

Stephan Litjens, head of enterprise solutions at Nokia, said of the Alibaba deal: “Nokia has already contributed to the digital transformation of more than 420 enterprises globally with our private wireless offer. We are excited to collaborate with Alibaba Cloud by bringing our global networking knowledge and enterprise digitalization experience to enhance their cloud business service offering to a broader market of enterprise customers worldwide.”

Chris Johnson, head of global enterprise business at Nokia, said of the Atos arrangement: “This partnership… will unlock new capabilities to help businesses… to increase efficiency and productivity… Sectors undergoing rapid innovation to meet changing demand, such as renewable energy, will benefit from the high performance, security, and reliability of Nokia MX Industrial Edge – powered by the Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) – in combination with what Atos’ AI computer vision platform delivers.”

He added: “This new offering as part of our ongoing relationship with Atos underscores our commitment to enabling and accelerating transformation of business processes on the path to Industry 4.0.”

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