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Deutsche Telekom to migrate 18m fixed voice users to the cloud

18 million of Deutsche Telekom’s fixed-line voice customers will soon have their service transferred to a new cloud-based telephony platform.

It uses next-generation IP multimedia subsystem (NIMS), which is being deployed in the telco’s data centres across Germany. The platform promises to operate services faster and more efficiently, automatically allocating voice capacity in the network according to demand. It is also based on open standards and interfaces, which in theory will enable Deutsche Telekom to pick and choose suppliers, potentially making it less expensive to deploy, maintain and upgrade.

Speaking of suppliers, Juniper Networks, Red Hat, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Lenovo, Mavenir and Metaswitch are the ones involved with Deutsche Telekom’s NIMS deployment.

Normally when we talk about cloud telephony, it relates to hosted services for enterprises, with users in the range of ten to a few thousand. What Deutsche Telekom is up to, however, is on a considerably larger scale.

“This approach is almost revolutionary,” declared Walter Goldenits, head of technology at Deutsche Telekom, in a statement. Within a few months, we have managed to create a completely new system and put it into operation. “With state-of-the-art working methods, motivated partners, and the know-how of our colleagues, we have taken a decisive step into the future of automated and software-based telecommunications.”

Before kicking off the commercial implementation, Deutsche Telekom conducted a pilot that saw the platform handle 100 million voice calls. They were a mixture of calls between two Deutsche Telekom phone numbers, as well as calls to other networks.

The rollout of cloud-based telephony represents a logical next step in Deutsche Telekom’s all-IP strategy, which it has been pursuing for years. It aimed to have all of its services in Germany operating on IP by the end of 2018, but it didn’t officially complete the migration until around February this year.

The announcement came the same week that research firm Dell’Oro group revealed that Q2 cloud data centre capex surged 17 percent year-on-year, led by the major hyperscalers. Global server revenue jumped 10 percent, as white box shipments to cloud providers reached 1.3 million units.

“The major US and China-based cloud service providers have accelerated expansion of server capacity to meet the demands of remote work and learning,” noted Baron Fung, research director at Dell’Oro, in a statement.

As far as we can ascertain, Dell’Oro’s data centre capex report tracks the 10-largest cloud service providers, such as Amazon, Alibaba, Google, Microsoft and so-on, so that growth figure doesn’t include server spending by the world’s telcos. It is entirely possible then that spending in the broader cloud data centre market is growing even faster.

The benefits of migrating legacy services like voice to the cloud are well established: it enables a telco to simplify its infrastructure, using off-the-shelf servers and silicon to host and operate both comms and information services. This unlocks cost and time-to-market benefits. Of course, it is more complicated than that: telcos need to ensure that next-generation, cloud-based services can operate at the same scale as their legacy equivalents, and the migration needs to take place without causing outages.

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