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By Ayham Alzaaim, Director, Telco and Service Providers - Middle East, Africa, CEE, CIS and Turkey at Red Hat

5G availability is an integral part of future digital use cases such as smart cities, connected cars, circular supply chains, and immersive virtual worlds. The cloud-native capabilities of 5G build on cloud platform technologies that are enterprise-grade, secure and robust, helping organizations across all industries create and deliver innovative services that meet their customers demands and needs.

More 5G core deployments are now cloud-native, as they are inherently more agile and efficient. Analysys Mason has projected a rise in GDP that would be directly made possible by the global deployment of 5G cloud-based networks by 2030. This amounts to $284 billion between 2021 and 2030 and is produced by two sources: $105 billion is enabled by dramatically increased access to high-quality mobile broadband, and $179 billion will be produced by new use cases that are enabled by the confluence of 5G with a host of other technologies like the IoT, AI/ML and edge cloud.

However, the transition to full cloud-native infrastructure is a challenge that requires a transformation of processes, upskilling and governance models. Like many other industries, the telecommunications sector has already begun its digital transformation journey to build a cloud-native infrastructure.

Several factors, such as scalability, improved customer experience, security, increased agility, cost savings and faster access to innovation, have motivated service providers to begin their cloud migration journey. Still, they must adopt new procedures and methods to fully benefit from cloud computing. A service-based architecture, microservices, containers and application programming interfaces (APIs) are all used in the process of creating and running applications, known as "cloud-native development."

For instance, Saudi Telecommunication Company (stc) already runs a multi-vendor, open telco cloud. and is already building a next-generation cloud-native telco cloud in cooperation with Red Hat to enable new levels of resiliency, flexibility and scalability for 5G cloud-native functions.

Adoption of a cloud-native approach to application development and cloud strategy has three key benefits for a service provider like stc:

  1. Capitalizing on a new age of revenue generation.

  2. Supporting operational transformation and cloud-native automation, resulting in lower operational costs and enhanced customer experience.

  3. Increasing network component vendor choice and network component flexibility that accelerates network innovation and reduces the time to market for new network services.

Here, specifically, a wider ecosystem provides a higher number of use cases that can be deployed quicker, more securely and at a more attractive price point.

The success of stc's cloud-native telco cloud implementation is of national strategic significance as it aims to provide cutting-edge 5G infrastructure to assist Saudi Arabia in achieving its Vision 2030 digital transformation goals. stc’s cloud-native telco cloud is essential to the delivery of new digital services that will support every aspect of Saudi society, including its industrial and economic growth, education, healthcare and smart city transformations.

Analysys Mason’s research suggests that there is an almost $300 billion opportunity for telecom operators to monetize new use cases that can benefit from 5G’s distinctive capabilities, particularly in an enterprise context. That said, choosing the right cloud-native development platform can help service providers deliver applications quickly without sacrificing quality. Continuous delivery approaches automate quality testing at every step of the process, rather than letting testing pile up at the end.

To adopt a cloud-native strategy, business units must collaborate. Development teams must collaborate with operations and business lines to deliver the necessary business functionality. In some cases, this scenario represents a cultural shift from sequential, monolithic development practices to a more collaborative, agile approach. A DevOps culture is predicated on collaboration, even though new tools and technology can begin to break down the barriers that monolithic processes have created over time.

While often reliable, legacy systems have lengthy product cycles and lack the agility needed to compete in today’s marketplace. Cloud-native software development helps service providers be more responsive in their market, giving them the ability to rapidly reshape products and develop, deliver and test new ideas quickly, again and again.

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