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IBM bets on open source in telecom, prepares for global 5G deployment

IBM has deals to manage IT infrastructure of both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea

Neha Alawadhi  |  New Delhi 

IBM bets on open source in telecom, prepares for global 5G deployment

The recent consolidation in the telecommunication space in India is a big opportunity for global tech giant IBM, and the company will look to leverage its acquisition of Red Hat to build more open source systems that are more efficient and can handle vast amounts of data as the world prepares for 5G rollouts, a senior executive said.

“There's no market on the planet which has gone through more consolidation than the Indian market in the last three years. So if there's a test case for how new architectural capabilities need to be implemented it would be India," said Steve Canepa, global industry managing director ( telecommunications, media and entertainment), IBM Global Markets.

Last year saw the consolidation of the domestic telecom market into three large private players — Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea. Together, the three account for more than 90 per cent of revenue. IBM has deals to manage IT infrastructure of both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.

“With Bharti as an example, we recently announced a very strategic partnership around blockchain... (and) embracing blockchain and hyper ledger as a new technology that can enable ecosystems to collaborate, because data is secure and access to the same is done in such a way that you can only see information you’re entitled to see. So, it allows firms in the industry to collaborate when they might not otherwise collaborate,” Canepa said.

With the Vodafone-Idea merger, it is working on a model to help the two companies streamline their processes and get new services to market as a combined entity much more quickly. IBM is currently focusing on its IBM 2.0 strategy for cloud across the globe, which centres around the idea that in the first generation of cloud, only about 20 per cent of the major enterprises work.

Moving the most critical work that an organisation has onto the cloud has always been a big challenge, which is what IBM is trying to solve with its new plan.

“And, we see this as a representation of a true trillion-dollar market opportunity,” said Canepa. “This comes with some really different requirements than what happened in the first generation of cloud, which is why we’ve really pivoted our strategy to focus on creating what we call a hybrid multi cloud capability,” he added.

In order to achieve the scale, effective data management, and getting products and services to market more efficiently, IBM plans to leverage its acquisition of open source software company Red Hat, which it bought for $34 billion in late 2018.

With significant presence of both firms in India, Red Hat is likely to be used in a big way to execute open source projects, which allow for open architecture and better inter-operability between different kinds of software.

In India, according to Canepa, there is “kind of an emerging class of high-value consumers and enterprise services that are being put into the marketplace. So, there’s really a number of market forces and these require a highly efficient and agile platform,” which will be powered by IBM'’s Cloud 2.0 strategy.

A critical element of the Cloud 2.0 Strategy is IBM’s cognitive intelligence platform, Watson.

In India, he said, telecom networks are moving towards better digital engagement, in order to ensure a consistent omni channel experience and prepare enterprises to be hybrid cloud-ready. Thus, the telecom network is, in itself, becoming a cloud.

With telecom networks gearing up for deployment of 5G, or the fifth generation cellular network technology that provides much faster speed and the ability to make faster data-related decisions in real time.

Canepa said the open hybrid cloud capability will provide the base on which these fast systems are built because “the network is a cloud platform that can deploy both the IT and network services”.

First Published: Sun, June 09 2019. 00:11 IST