Big Blue reaches for hybrid cloud to target 5G telcos; creates partner ecosystem

IBM has thrown its hat into the telco ring with the launch of new hybrid cloud platform that draws a bead on 5G.

IBM Cloud for Telecommunications is similar to a platform that VMware announced in September that also targets the telco 5G ecosystem. Along the same lines as VMware's combined platform, IBM Cloud for Telecommunications blends and repackages various technologies from IBM and Red Hat.

In a blog post, IBM's Howard Boville, senior vice president for hybrid cloud, said IBM Cloud for Telecommunications creates new platform by combining Red Hat OpenShift, IBM Edge Application Manager, IBM Cloud and IBM Telco Network Manager.

“Red Hat has always been a strong provider to the telecommunications market, so it’s smart to position Red Hat OpenShift for the hybrid cloud edge, which will grow with the arrival of 5G and private wireless," said Scott Raynovich, the founder and chief analyst of Futuriom

In order to create a holistic, hybrid cloud ecosystem, IBM has partnered with more than 35 third-party vendors—including Samsung, Nokia, Cisco, Dell Technologies, HPE, and Juniper Networks—to pre-integrate support.  Additional members include Adva, Affirmed Networks, Mavenir, F5 Networks, Palo Alto Networks and, TM Forum, and  the O-RAN Alliance.

"The holistic hybrid cloud offering will be complemented by our ecosystem partners’ software and technology, and enable mission critical workloads to be managed consistently from the network core to the edge so telecom providers can extract more value from their data while they drive innovation for their customers," Boville said. "Ecosystems fuel platforms, and because the IBM Cloud for Telecommunications is built on an open architecture, an enormous ecosystem of partners can enhance it with their own solutions in addition to providing services for it – and this is an important distinction.

IBM's partner ecosystem spans various technologies that are needed for 5G and hybrid cloud including 5G mobile core, 5G access, software-defined networking (SDN), and OSS/BSS. The ecosystem partners include network equipment providers, independent software vendors, software-as-a-service providers and hardware partners.

The platform is built on IBM Cloud Satellite, which is currently in beta testing before becoming generally available in the middle of next year. Using Red Hat OpenShift, Cloud Satellite can deploy IBM Cloud services anywhere—including on the cloud, on premises or at the edge—while also addressing industry-specific regulatory, compliance and security requirements. IBM recently announced that AT&T  was the first service provider to kick the tires on Cloud Satellite.

IBM's cloud evolution

IBM Cloud for Telecommunications is the latest step up the cloud evolutionary ladder for IBM. IBM CEO Arvind Krishna, who was formerly in charge of IBM's cloud division prior to taking over as CEO in April, has doubled-down on IBM's hybrid cloud business as it seeks to close the gap on market leaders Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google.

Also in April, IBM named Boville as the new head of its cloud business. Prior to IBM, Boville was CTO of Bank of America.

RELATED: Verizon and IBM take their talents to the enterprise edge with IoT and 5G

In addition to working with AT&T to offer hybrid cloud services at the mobile network edge for enterprises, IBM has also struck up a cloud deal with Verizon to create a new monitoring solution for enterprises that combines 4G, 5G and edge computing.

RELATED:IBM beefs up financial services cloud ecosystem with new vendors and banks

This past summer, IBM announced several global banks and more than 30 vendors joined its IBM Cloud for Financial Services ecosystem, which launched last year. With IBM Cloud for Financial Services, IBM is delivering a set of technologies and capabilities to run mission critical workloads on the public cloud, while addressing regulatory compliance, security and resiliency requirements.

Those efforts are paying off in the short-term for IBM. In its third quarter earnings last month, revenue from IBM's cloud business increased by 19% to $6 billion.