At this year’s Mobile World Congress, IBM is announcing a number of major deals related to 5G, including an open hybrid cloud platform alongside Verizon and Red Hat, and hybrid cloud enterprise solutions with Telefonica tech

Verizon Partners with IBM and Red Hat to Deploy Its 5G Network as an Open Hybrid Cloud Platform

by Steve Canepa, Global GM & Managing Director, IBM Communications

IBM and Verizon have a long and successful history of collaboration, built on a shared vision to drive continuous innovation for consumers and businesses in all industries. Over the years, we’ve progressed our work together with this focus in mind – including, most recently, our announcement last summer to collaborate on 5G innovation for enterprise businesses.

Today, I’m delighted to announce the next major step in our partnership. Verizon has chosen IBM and Red Hat to help build and deploy an open hybrid cloud platform with automated operations and service orchestration as the foundation of its 5G core.

This work with Verizon comes at a critical time for the telco industry as telcos position to deliver on the fundamental transformation potential of 5G. With increased bandwidth, reduced latency and cloud native capabilities, telcos now have the opportunity to leverage their unique and trusted role in communications to capture value from enterprise 5G adoption. 

Why is this so crucial right now? Because it’s the kind of platform transformation that enables telcos to play a leading role in bringing connectivity and compute together for the 5G era. And the value that can be driven from this is clear, as 91% of high performing CSPs surveyed by the IBM Institute for Business Value expect to outperform their current financial expectations in five years as a result of using 5G-enabled edge computing.  In simple terms, telcos must become platform businesses, or face competing with them. 

Think about the rate and pace of innovation we are all experiencing, including heath care – evolving from telehealth doctor visits to network enabled remote surgeries. Or consider factory workers who can now gain access to video and real-time, augmented reality tools to improve quality and yields while they predict maintenance and repair needs before they happen. Or complex modern power grids that can support clean energy and more intelligent, real-time monitoring via 5G-enabled sensors.  All of these innovations must be powered by agile network platforms that can support AI and data intensive use cases as low latency edge computing moves closer to where data is created and captured.  

Verizon is a great example of a communication services provider that is on the forefront of this transformation, by embracing an open hybrid cloud platform that enables a world-class operations environment, aligned to their next-gen vision of an intelligent, highly automated and efficient 5G network. With this transformation, they can scale and deploy new services across a variety of environments, speeding innovation that delivers new value to customers.

By working with Red Hat and IBM Global Business Services (GBS) to build their 5G core network services on Red Hat OpenShift, Verizon is evolving to an open, cloud-native, containerized webscale platform that is ready to harness innovative applications that can support advanced 5G use cases. This open hybrid cloud foundation is designed to help them draw on the power of the immense up-stream open source community, while retaining the architectural control necessary to speed new features, offerings and services like network slicing and multi-access edge computing to market. And they can retain choice over what cloud (public or private), on-prem or Edge environment is best to deploy these solutions.

IBM Global Business Services, a leading systems integrator in the telco industry, is also integrating Telco Network Cloud solutions into Verizon’s Service Orchestration Platform to automate and manage services much more efficiently. This integration is designed to improve the service quality, predictably and automation of virtual network functions and comply with Open Network Automation Platform interfaces.

Taken together, today’s news is an enormous step forward in how IBM is supporting Verizon’s position as a network-as-a-service leader in 5G. With this approach, Verizon gains more control over how they choose to drive new value for their customers. They have flexibility in how and where they move their data, and what tools and technologies they choose to develop these emerging 5G-enabled business solutions.


We all know change and opportunity go hand in hand, and Verizon has long embraced forward thinking – especially now, when the industry is racing to create and capture new value as the market adopts 5G. As we look towards a future with 5G, IBM and Red Hat are deeply engaged, and working hand in hand with leading telecom operators all over the globe, to co-create and deliver open hybrid cloud platform solutions that will enable them – and the enterprises they serve – to thrive in this next era that combines the power of “connectivity + compute.”


Telefonica Tech and IBM launch hybrid cloud enterprise solutions based on Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain

Telefonica Tech, Telefonica’s digital business holding, and IBM today announced new hybrid cloud solutions that will help fuel enterprise digital transformation using artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology. These solutions, an AI-powered virtual assistant and a blockchain platform for enterprise assets, are part of Telefonica and IBM’s ongoing work together to embrace an open hybrid cloud strategy that can speed how enterprises innovate to meet the evolving needs of today’s customers.  

As many enterprises digitally transform to drive new revenue streams and customer satisfaction, they are increasingly embracing advanced cloud-based technologies like AI and blockchain. For example, almost a third of the IT professionals surveyed in IBM’s Global AI Adoption Index 2021, conducted by Morning Consult, say their business is using AI, with 43 percent reporting they are accelerating AI adoption as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with many enterprises using multiple cloud and IT platforms, deploying and tailoring advanced technologies across these environments can be challenging.

"These agreements reinforce our strategy of being the best partners for companies to face digital transformation with guarantees, complementing solutions based on our own technology with the best services from our partners," said Gonzalo Martín-Villa, CEO of IoT&Big Data at Telefonica Tech.

"IBM and Telefonica share a vision to bring next gen enterprise solutions to customers that address their unique digital transformation needs. The new offerings we’re announcing today are key to accelerating the value Telefonica can drive from adopting an open hybrid cloud strategy that can speed the delivery of these solutions to market. By harnessing technologies like AI and blockchain via an agile platform that enables flexible deployment – on prem or on any cloud — customers can leverage and tailor these solutions to support their specific innovation strategies," said Steve Canepa, Global Managing Director and General Manager, IBM Communications Sector. 


Virtual Assistant Enables Flexibility in Deployment, Customization

Telefonica Tech and IBM have created an AI-powered virtual assistant solution to streamline customer service for enterprises and public entities. IBM Global Business Services (GBS) trained and implemented the solution, which uses IBM Watson Assistant and is deployed on Telefónica Tech’s Cloud Garden, a hybrid cloud platform that runs on Red Hat OpenShift. Companies can have a 24×7 customer service capability that is adaptable to different use cases and can be securely integrated into an omnichannel environment. 

Telefonica Tech and IBM built the solution based on Cloud Garden’s containers as a service platform. This architecture enables customers to gain greater flexibility in how they build, deploy and tailor the solution across any cloud or on-premises environment depending on their unique needs and requirements. Customers can more easily incorporate these solutions and adapt them to their existing telecommunications platforms.

Using the natural language processing capabilities of IBM Watson Assistant, the new solution is designed to increase efficiency and enhance the customer experience by providing fast, consistent and trusted information across a variety of messaging platforms, applications, devices or channels. The solution helps to remove the challenges of long wait times and tedious searches by automating frequently asked questions and common tasks such as helping with changes to customer information, billing questions, claims processing, and more. 

As a result, the automation and movement of customer data frees up human customer service agents to focus on the most complex customer issues. Additionally, the solution helps to automate how companies process internal functions like IT support, human resources processes, collection, debt and direct debit processes, and more.


Blockchain solution optimizes supply chain and asset management 

At the same time, Telefonica Tech and IBM have built a new solution using the IBM Blockchain Platform, based on open hybrid cloud technologies, to improve how companies trace their assets throughout the supply chain. The solution provides end-to-end supply chain visibility and securely enables traceability of any type of material with an open standard. Designed to be customized and scaled out, Telefónica Global Technology is first using the solution internally and will start implementing it in its asset management and supply chain ecosystem in Spain and Germany, with the aim of extending it to other operators of the Group. 

This platform, built using IBM GBS’ user-centric approach and based on Red Hat OpenShift, allows customization of participants, transactions, locations and status of materials, is adaptable to numerous use cases, and can be deployed via any cloud or on-prem environment a customer chooses.

At any time, the provenance or location of an asset can be reviewed by the manufacturer, suppliers or transformers, quality control companies and the end customer in a common, visible, standard and immutable repository. The blockchain technology enables the entire ecosystem of companies involved in the supply, installation and consumption of assets to interact in an efficient and easily accessible way, ensuring traceability throughout the lifecycle of the asset.

Telefonica Tech and IBM are exploring the possibility of commercializing this solution in the local and international business market, offering a blockchain traceability platform solution that allows companies to establish their own secure data exchange ecosystem with their supply chain partners.


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