Ericsson dials up partnership with Amazon’s cloud

Telecos are still trying to figure out what to do with the cloud

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This week as the mobile world has its eyes on Barcelona, Ericsson – a major supplier of equipment for telecommunication providers – has announced a broad-ranging, and slightly vague, partnership with Amazon Web Services.

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The pact announced at Mobile World Congress marks the latest effort by a teleco provider to figure out how to deal with cloud computing services. Other telecos are struggling with the same question.

Swedish-based Ericsson says it is training up its workforce of consulting engineers to help its telecommunications clients use AWS’s cloud. Here’s what Ericsson said when announcing the agreement:

As part of this announcement, Ericsson is creating a global team of experts focused on the AWS Cloud and opening cloud innovation centers with customers, and AWS is supporting Ericsson in this effort. Ericsson will contribute expertise from its 25,000 R&D engineers and 66,000-person service workforce - more than 17,000 of whom are consultants and systems integrators, delivering 1,500 projects per year around the world.

What can telecos use the cloud for? It’s still somewhat vague at this point, but basically Ericsson officials say that anything that requires compute, network or storage infrastructure can be done in Amazon’s cloud. It lists a couple of examples such as: End-to-end security and data traffic management services hosted in AWS; workload management from the cloud; or telecos could act as a gateway for customers to access data stored in AWS’s cloud.

More broadly, the move represents the continually shifting strategies telecommunication providers have with regards to cloud services.

IDC analyst Brad Casemore pointed out on Twitter: “In an earlier era, Ericsson might have tried to sell gear to AWS. Now, though, it partners with AWS to provide cloud services to carriers,” adding, “IT infrastructure vendors are coming to terms with public cloud. It’s not going away, and they must adapt.”

Over the past five years telecos have made some big moves in this market, from Verizon buying Terremark to CenturyLink scooping up Savvis and later Tier 3.

More recently, those two companies have been rumored to be considering selling off some of their data center infrastructure. As they do that, it could be a sign they would move to a cloud provider like AWS, instead of offering services to compete with the public cloud leader. AT&T recently announced a partnership with IBM for Big Blue to manage the teleco company’s cloud service.

Ericsson’s interest in cloud computing should not come as a surprise though. Two years ago it hired Jason Hoffman, founder and former CTO of cloud provider Joyent to head up its cloud strategy.

Big changes are afoot in the telco market when it comes to cloud. Clearly Ericsson wants to be one of the companies helping these carriers make that transition, rather than be left behind.

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