IBM Cloud

Q&A: Steve Canepa on IBM’s Cloud for Telco

November 5, 2020

IBM today announced the IBM Cloud for Telecommunications, an open, hybrid cloud platform that addresses the unique needs of the telco industry. This platform comes to market with an ecosystem of 30+ partners. Steve Canepa, IBM’s Global GM & Managing Director, Communications Sectorexplains why this is a milestone in the evolution in one of the world’s most essential and highly regulated industries.

How is the telco industry changing right now?

There are three fundamental shifts happening in telco. 

First, there’s the emergence of 5G, which will dramatically change the way we communicate— through lower latency, greater bandwidth and the ability to dedicate slices of the network to specific functions. 

Second, the telco network is transforming to become a cloud platform—specifically a hybrid cloud platform. This will evolve the industry beyond just voice, data, and multimedia services, to internal IT services and B2B enterprise services.

Third, there’s the rise of edge computing, which allows computation and storage to happen closer to where data is processed.  Combined with the power of 5G, telcos can deliver a new class of services that can transform every industry.

How does this new platform address these shifts?

First, we have a deep understanding of the challenges telcos face — eight out of 10 of the world’s largest telcos are IBM clients, including AT&T, Verizon, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone.

As 5G and edge grow, telcos are transforming their networks into flexible platforms that can scale to support growing volumes of complex data. 

That’s why we’re delivering an open, hybrid cloud platform that gives them the flexibility to choose where they build and deploy services. And it’s why we’re launching with an ecosystem of more than 30 partners to help fuel this innovation. 

We’ve also infused advanced automation and AI to speed efficiencies in deployment while reducing costs. 

Finally, IBM's leading encryption capabilities allow clients to know their data will remain their data. Not even IBM can access it – and this extends all the way to the edge. 

What makes IBM's approach different?

This builds on our work to bring secure and open, hybrid cloud capabilities to regulated industries, which began with the IBM Cloud for Financial Services.

Our focus is on delivering targeted capabilities to help these businesses run mission critical workloads, including data localization, advanced encryption, enterprise class security and regulatory and compliance functions.  

In the IBM Cloud for Telco, we've made further enhancements to help telcos run their workloads at scale –including network related services for voice, data and multi-media. 

We've also included access to IBM's broad set of industry applications and IOT offerings. And with access to IBM Watson, telcos and their clients can harness AI for intelligent workflows. 

With our commitment to open architecture and Red Hat Open Shift, clients also have confidence they can run workloads wherever they choose –based on economics, proximity, performance and latency. 

How does it help the industry? 

Just being the service that connects customers is no longer sufficient. Our clients are looking to change in three specific ways: 

The first is to modernize and make their business much more agile so they can keep pace with the change in the marketplace. 

The second is that they have to provide compelling experiences to their customers, whether they're consumers or enterprises.

And the third is that they must evolve quickly from networks into platforms. The telco of the future is a platform business that supports a thriving ecosystem of partners.

So, we know how this impacts telcos, but how will consumers notice the difference? 

Sports, medicine and digital learning come to mind. 

As sports consumption is largely digital, there are opportunities to personalize the viewing and replay experience for every fan. 

Within medicine, it’s now possible to monitor a patient’s vital signs in real time, from a distance, enabling medical professionals to foresee problems before they arise. 

And with curriculum moving to an online format for many students, how can you customize that experience to address specific students’ needs? Network connection and services like AI and analytics are critical, so data can be processed in real time, out at the edge—like on the student’s tablet.

   Steve Canepa,
   IBM’s Global GM & Managing Director, Communications Sector