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Public cloud could be far worse than a temporary outage warns analyst

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Telcos told to beware of the model of software as a subterfuge

With CIOs under increasing pressure to hand over their assets to the public cloud, analysts have warned mobile operators not to panic.

Google Cloud has unveiled plans to host 5G core and RAN functions for mobile operators on its 140 data centres. It claims it can cut latency by shortening the journey each data signal must travel to the nearest computer.

Functions can also be co-hosted with enterprise applications, says Google. The business logic is that telcos can focus on applications and business initiatives rather than management of their underlying infrastructure, said Sachin Gupta, Google Cloud's general manager of infrastructure, told reporters, "they can leave the complexity to us."

All this heaps pressure on the CIOs of mobile operators to hand over control of their infrastructure to the hyperscalers. According to Light Reading, telcos won’t get the sort of liquidity Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure could offer instantly as they build their own networks with Nokia and Ericsson.

Hell in a hyperscaler?

However, it warned of an even worse downside. Virtualisation will give the hyperscalers a ‘big say’ over the technology strategies of mobile operators. This would be a dangerous strategy when there is an extreme valuation gap between telcos and hyperscale public cloud operators. 

Under the Google Cloud plan, the hyperscaler will effectively manage the hardware and software of a mobile operator even when its facilities are not being used. AT&T, Bell Canada, Telus, Telenet, TIM, Reliance Jio and Orange report they have moved some of their IT workloads onto Google Cloud, with some also running packet core and RAN applications.

Telcos could be subsumed by hyperscalers

A temporary network outage, such as those suffered by Three Ireland and Three on Thursday, would be less of problem than being subsumed by a hyperscaler, some say. Moving from one public cloud to another may be as tricky as quitting a crime syndicate, said Light Reading.

Besides which the problems experienced by the two divisions of Three may not be related to the choice between public and private cloud usage, since each has its own distinct hybrid. 

Moving from one public cloud to another may be as tricky as quitting a crime syndicate, said Light Reading. In 2019, Snapchat developer Snap warned in a regulatory filing that moving systems between public clouds would be "difficult to implement" and demand "significant time and expense."