A 5g globe above the physical globe of the Earth.
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IBM and Nokia will join forces on a “seamless, simplified” private 5G managed service using IBM Cloud Satellite, the two companies announced at Mobile World Congress 2023. With this plan, IBM and Nokia are following the trend of major collaborations and territory-staking among 5G enterprise providers.

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IBM and Nokia collaborate on managed 5G service

The new offering will be a private 5G managed service on IBM Cloud Satellite for enterprise customers. Nokia will handle the private wireless side with its 5G Cloud RAN, while IBM will provide expertise in automation, AI and hybrid cloud. The plan is to provide enhanced resiliency, performance, security and compliance capabilities for clients building out connectivity at the edge.

Together, IBM and Nokia will build a unified management stack on which enterprises can “design, automatically build, instantly connect, as well as operate and observe their private 5G environments,” IBM announced.

Increasing demand for 5G network connectivity

IBM Consulting’s systems integration team will handle the transition. The new private 5G service will also include IBM’s Cloud Pak for Network Automation solution, which automates and orchestrates network operations for communications service providers. A 5G cloud network provides the speed and reliability that always-on enterprises look for in their digital transformations, IBM said.

SEE: 5G vs 6G: What’s the difference? (TechRepublic)

The service could also enable communications service providers to connect across multiple private 5G environments over numerous geographic locations. The partnership aims to look forward and plan for the increasing demand for connectivity.

“Enterprises are navigating a hyper-distributed application environment spanning multiple public and private clouds and on-premises environments, scattered user bases and remote/hybrid employees, as well as massive amounts of data being generated from many different data streams,” according to IBM’s MWC press release.

Building on 2020 5G cloud partnership

This plan builds on a 2020 partnership that initially hooked IBM Cloud technology to Nokia’s telecommunications services. At that time, the companies combined 5G Cloud RAN with IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and validated IBM Cloud Satellite to run on Nokia’s Open Edge hardware platform.

Now, Nokia plans to integrate IBM’s Cloud Pak for Network Automation solution into the existing joint offering. This choice will benefit enterprise customers who are looking for telco-grade 5G connectivity and edge cloud applications.

In September 2022, Nokia demonstrated a 5G Layer 3 call with IBM integrations. Nokia was able to verify that the cloud-native Central Unit and Distributed Unit of Nokia 5G Cloud RAN successfully ran on the IBM Cloud Red Hat OpenShift Kubernetes Service, using Nokia’s Open Edge hardware platform.

Although the partnership and some of its details have been shared, IBM and Nokia did not announce when the transition will be complete.

Other IBM announcements at MWC 2023

IBM revealed several other announcements tailored to communications services providers at MWC 2023.

First, Juniper Networks will expand its existing partnership with IBM to a unified RAN management program. The company plans to integrate IBM’s network automation capabilities with Juniper’s Radio Access Network and Open Radio Access Network technology to explore this possibility. The ultimate goal is to enable “disaggregated, multi-vendor, and economically viable radio networks” for communications service providers, IBM wrote.

IBM and Spirent will add IBM’s Cloud Pak for Network Automation and Spirent’s 5G Test & Assurance solution into their joint 5G network service. It is designed to automate the 5G cloud-native deployment process for clients who rely on multiple vendors for their networking solutions. Vodafone will be one of the flagship customers.

Vying for hybrid and multicloud market share

Overall, IBM is working on grabbing as much market share as possible in the areas of edge, hybrid and multicloud networks, which is especially crucial as more and more organizations move to hybrid and multicloud. An IDC study found that 76% of enterprises are making the move. Competitors like Microsoft Azure and VMware are staking out space in the telecom world. Meanwhile, 5G Open RAN continues to gain steam.

Read next: Cisco and NTT join private 5G race and Samsung locks in standardization for 5G satellite network modems (TechRepublic)

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