Vodafone: 5G will transform our company in five years
“We’ll be a totally different company five years from now,” predicts Scott Petty, Chief Technology Officer, Vodafone UK who reveals how 5G will redefine telecom companies.
“At Vodafone, we really believe 5G will be the key to reviving the UK economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, “ said Petty who recently took part in a ‘5G World’ panel discussion on how this technology could redefine telecoms companies over the next few years.
“5G is going to have a massively transformational impact on Vodafone UK, requiring new skills and a new innovation-based culture,” says Petty in the Vodafone UK News Centre.
Vodafone launched 5G more than a year ago and there’s now real momentum as all four mobile operators are now rolling out services. New use cases and capabilities are being developed all the time.
“We’ve launched innovation centres and we’ve worked really closely with the Government on their innovation incubators, too,” says Petty who points out that he has been “blown away” by the enthusiasm with which businesses, big and small, have been engaging in 5G development.
Hardware to software
Petty explains that Vodafone is going to expand from being a network service provider to a company that is also a software and IT business.
“Because as we continue to virtualise and move to cloud-based technologies – think of OpenRAN and Software Defined Networking – we’re going to need more software development and engineering skills, not just networking skills,” he commented.
“We are becoming integrators and developers of applications, not just runners of networks,” he said.
Vodafone is seeing a big demand for MPNs, not always with standalone spectrum, but integrated into hybrid networks.
“It’s about providing security and reliability of service outside, and increasingly, inside buildings,” says Petty.
“Connected IoT sensors will monitor many office and factory operations as functions become increasingly automated. We’ll need to manage those sensor networks and offer services around how to interpret and respond to all the data they collect.”
Connected health and connected agriculture are two other sectors that show great commercial promise as they move from pilot projects to full-scale deployment in the UK, partly supported by the Government’s innovation centres.
“Building a pool of network and software development expertise will enable us to service these new clients more effectively,” says Petty.
Consumers will see a slightly slower change in 5G which is currently about the latest handsets and faster download speeds. This is set to change when augmented and virtual reality applications start entering the market next year. “But the most exciting use cases are probably a few years away yet,” commented Petty.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”