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Amazon Web Services (AWS), like Google and Microsoft Azure, has been actively targeting the telecoms space for some time now, and in addition to the recent rush of interest in edge cloud, we are also seeing increased interest in engagement with telecoms IT vendors.

Earlier this month AWS held its Telecom Symposium, a virtual “coming out” event to showcase its growing telco relationships. The rush of telecoms IT vendor and hyperscale cloud provider partnership announcements earlier in the year already indicated that activity was picking up in this space, but the symposium was Omdia’s first comprehensive overview of AWS’s telecoms activities. Operator case studies straddled an impressive range of areas that included 5G, Edge, IoT, digital transformation, AI/ML, NFV, and OSS/BSS and involved contributions from BT, DT, Telefonica, Telus, T-Mobile, Verizon, Vodacom, and others.

It was also notable that there was a strong showing from telecoms IT-focused companies at the event, with participation from a good cross-section of companies including Amdocs, BearingPoint//Beyond, Netcracker, Nokia, MYCOM OSI, Openet (now being acquired by Amdocs), and Tech Mahindra.

It is understandable that telco IT-focused vendors are eager to cover all their deployment options by partnering with cloud providers as operator RFPs increasingly assume public cloud as part of the mix. What is equally significant is that public cloud players such as AWS are also interested in cozying up to the OSS/BSS vendors.

The AWS Telecom Symposium suggested that it’s not a one-sided affair. An AWS Telecom Engagement Model slide used several times during the symposium highlighted support systems as one of four important areas of engagement (along with customer experience transformation, IT cloud transformation, and telco cloud transformation). Amir Rao, the global head of the AWS Telecom Solutions Portfolio, also emphasized that everything is liable to fall apart “unless we transform the customer’s OSS/BSS capabilities so they can support digital transformation.”

This helps to explain why AWS is keen to build strategic partnerships not only with the operators and network vendors, but also with key telecoms IT vendors such as Amdocs and Netcracker. Support systems are a key component of any telco transformation because of the way they inherently straddle both operational efficiency and revenue growth use cases.

The relationship between CSPs and cloud players is changing by the day, but what is also increasingly clear is that the role of the telecoms IT vendors will be a crucial part of this mix. The likes of AWS are clearly eager to work with vendors capable of taking a more open or platform-based approach, but they also have limited patience. If the cloud players find that their vendor partners are not agile enough on their feet, they might start to expand their role and invest in some of the platforms and services required to provide CSPs with end-to-end solutions.

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