Vodafone taps VMware platform for 5G core networks across Europe

Vodafone marked a wide expansion on its use of VMware platforms, announcing Thursday plans to deploy the vendor’s full Telco Cloud Platform to handle all workloads on its 5G standalone core networks across the operator’s European markets.

It means that VMware is delivering one platform to automate and orchestrate all network functions and services, no matter which vendor they come from, for Vodafone to run its core networks.

As networks evolves, network functions are becoming virtualized and containerized. VMware said this requires a uniform, cloud-native platform to onboard and manage the variety of workloads across any network and any cloud, helping to reduce complexities. Its telco platform aims to help make it faster for operators to deploy and more efficiently operate those multi-vendor CNFs and VNFs with scale across networks.

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“As service providers modernize their networks to transition to 5G, they require a single platform to automate and streamline delivery of multi-vendor network functions across network core, RAN and edge,” said Sanjay Uppal, SVP and general manager for Service Provider and Edge at VMware, in a statement. “VMware Telco Cloud Platform provides this unifying platform to simplify operations, accelerate automation and increase feature velocity across all parts of the network.”

Deployment of the VMware Telco Cloud Platform is already underway in the following eight markets: Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania, and the U.K. Over time that will expand to all 11 of Vodafone’s European markets.

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Vodafone had tapped VMware before as its Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) platform, and apparently liked the result. The operator finished rolling out the Telco Cloud Infrastructure last year across 21 markets, including its European business.

From that effort, Vodafone saw network functions brought online approximately 40% faster and gained cost savings of up to 55%, according to the announcement.

“We’ve made great strides in modernizing and virtualizing our core network. Now we must turn our attention to layering in automation, software engineering and cloud-native principles to simplify operations and accelerate how quickly we can deploy new applications,” said Johan Wibergh, CTO at Vodafone, in a statement. “VMware Telco Cloud Platform will help us achieve these goals and reach our Tech 2025 targets faster.”

Tech 2025 is a five-year plan that involves creating a network platform with the start of 5G SA core network rollout, and followed by other features like voice over internet and next-gen video conferencing and VR/AR. They’ll use a cloud-native architecture supported by VMware, with features orchestrated into the appropriate network slices determined by different customer and application requirements.

RELATED: VMware extends its telco cloud platform to the RAN

5G SA core networks that enable network slicing are a key capability service providers are hoping to leverage for returns on their 5G investments. Vodafone turned on 5G SA in Germany earlier this year, and in June stated plans for 5G SA to go live in every Vodafone European market in the coming year.

VMware meanwhile has made its move on the telco space with other operators as well with its telco cloud platforms. Among those signed to leverage core network aspects include Vodafone, Dish Network and Rogers Communications.

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Earlier this year, VMware extended the platform to also include the radio access network (RAN) to help enable virtualized RAN functions in a distributed architecture.

Samsung is one of the vendors that’s been in the mix for both Vodafone and VMware. Over the summer Vodafone picked Samsung vRAN technology as part of its planned open RAN deployment in the U.K. Last fall, Samsung and VMware said they were working together to create and optimize the South Korean vendor’s various VNFs and CNFs, with functions to be integrated with the VMware Telco Cloud platform.

With the expanded partnership announced today, Vodafone is now using VMware Tanzu for Telco and VMware Telco Cloud Automation, in addition to the already deployed Telco Cloud Infrastructure for NFV.