Google Cloud jumps into 5G and telco edge computing with a ‘GMEC’ vision

Google Cloud’s vision for 5G and edge computing is called GMEC (because of course it is)

Google Cloud is seeking to be the avenue by which telecom companies both transform their own network capabilities and enable enterprises to do the same, with a combination of 5G, edge computing, and cloud-based artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics.

Telcos have been trying for years to figure out how to replicate the success of cloud companies. Maybe the answer is to partner with them? Google Cloud’s announcement today looped in a number of major telecom players into a vision that it is calling the “Global Mobile Edge Cloud,” or GMEC.

The news spanned both carriers who are working with Google Cloud to enhance their enterprise-targeted 5G and edge offerings, or analytics capabilities (including AT&T, Vodafone and Wind Tre)  to offering up tried-and-true telecom OSS/BSS names like Amdocs and Netcracker who will be running their solutions on Google Cloud’s Anthos platform to help service providers leverage Google Cloud in their own business operations.

AT&T is is one of the first announced partners for Google Cloud, and the two companies say they “intend to deliver a portfolio of 5G edge computing solutions that bring together AT&T’s network, Google Cloud’s leading technologies, and edge computing to help enterprises address real business challenges.”

“We’re working with Google Cloud to deliver the next generation of cloud services,” said Mo Katibeh, EVP and CMO, AT&T Business. “Combining AT&T’s network edge, including 5G, with Google Cloud’s edge compute technologies can unlock the cloud’s true potential. This work is bringing us closer to a reality where cloud and edge technologies give businesses the tools to create a whole new world of experiences for their customers.”

Shailesh Shukla, VP and GM of networking at Google Cloud, told RCR Wireless News that the focus is initially on building 5G/edge-enhanced retail solutions to help bridge the gap between digital and brick-and-mortar shopping, but the two partners will develop solutions for other verticals as well. He gave examples such as being able to point a smartphone at an in-store mannequin’s outfit in and being presented with both online options to buy the items, or offering in-store way-finding to locate the items. On the operations side, he added, enterprises will gain the capability to analyze the customer journey from entrance to exit, including in-store traffic patterns to optimize displays and product placement.

On the OSS/BSS side, both Amdocs and Netcracker are going to be operating their solutions via Google Cloud. Amdocs said that Altice USA has already gone live with Amdocs’ data and intelligence systems on Google Cloud and described Altice USA as “an early mover in driving better intelligence into their core operations for enhanced customer insights and experiences.”

“Service providers worldwide are embarking on transformation journeys centered on the cloud in order to drive new services, revenue opportunities and experiences,” said Gary Miles, chief marketing officer at Amdocs. “By combining our cloud-native, open and modular solutions with the fully managed, high performing Google Cloud, we can accelerate this journey.”

Shukla said that cloud is a key element of the modernization of both telecom networks and services. As operator networks evolve into being more software-based, he added, operators are leverage the cloud and also are increasingly seeking to adopt machine learning, artificial intelligence and data analytics capabilities to improve their operations. Both represent areas of expertise for Google Cloud, he added, which sees three primary areas in which operators could work with cloud providers to transform their businesses: monetizing 5G, particularly as a business services platform beyond the consumer market; using AI, ML and analytics to develop “data-driven experiences” for customers; and improving operational efficiencies by using the cloud for their OSS, BSS and other systems.

Those three areas translate into three strategic components, he went on: developing a portfolio of 5G solutions which have been built in partnership with telecom companies and an ecosystem of partners, such as those announced today; extending Google Cloud’s Anthos platform, which was launched last year with the aim of helping enterprises run their applications in a variety of locations/hybrid network environments, into the telecom world; and leveraging its own 21 cloud regions, 134 edge POPs and “thousands of edge nodes” in support of edge services. Shukla said that Google Cloud already has many such nodes deployed within telecom networks and those can be utilized to offer 5G-based edge services.

“This is a race for transforming the telecom industry, and telecommunications companies are … in that race to transform their businesses from being just a provider of connectivity, to a provider of the full-blown technology services and platforms,” Shukla said. The ability to partner with Google Cloud on such initiatives, he added, “allows telecom operators to now tap into new opportunities in the business and enterprise world, not simply connectivity-oriented services to consumers, and that allows them to improve the business case for 5G.”

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