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NEC and AWS expand partnership to drag 5G even further into the cloud

Tech heavyweights AWS and NEC are expanding their existing collaboration to deliver cloud native 5G, enhanced digital government solutions, as well as hybrid cloud.

The two companies entered a global partnership at the end of 2020, “the first of its kind between AWS and a Japanese company”, as Toshifumi Yoshizaki, NEC’s EVP put it at the time. While the initial collaboration was focused on helping digitize and digitalize Japanese government processes, the new announcement expanded the scope to provide solutions for global deployment of cloud-native 5G, enhanced digital transformation solutions for digital government, and secure integration of on-premises and cloud environments.

NEC’s status as a major mobile supplier has been elevated recently, thanks to its high-profile win with Rakuten, its active role in the OpenRAN community, and its participation in a number of OpenRAN projects with leading European operators including O2, Vodafone, and Deutsche Telekom. The company said in the announcement that it will deliver globally its own high-performance cloud-native open 5G mobile core, OSS/BSS solutions, local 5G use cases together with AWS cloud and edge solutions.

The new products are targeted at both the telco market and the enterprise market, and NEC will provide the system integration services. One of the noteworthy implications from this expanded partnership is how quickly AWS has become extremely influential and extremely powerful in the telecoms world.

Apparently, AWS isn’t the only cloud giant playing a critical role in both directly powering many network and non-network functions and indirectly enhancing vendors’ credibility in front of their customers. NEC is deeply entrenched in the new dynamism. In July this year the company selected Microsoft Azure as its preferred cloud platform provider, as part of its multi-year partnership with the American software and cloud giant.

The collaboration between NEC and AWS goes back many years to when NEC became a customer of AWS for its own digital transformation. Since the global partnership was set up late last year, NEC, having been certified as an AWS Government Competency Partner, has largely played the role of a value-added reseller for AWS, especially to the Japanese government, which is notoriously analogue. So much so that the outgoing Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, set digitisation of Japanese bureaucracy one of his top priorities when he assumed the office a year ago. NEC’s new offerings to the Japanese public sector will provide a menu of offerings for its customers to choose from for the accelerated digital transformation of activities at the government.

But its role in the collaboration is now more than a channel partner. In addition to bringing to the table its 5G expertise, another important component of today’s announcement is the role NEC sets out to play as a bridge to connect their customers’ on-premises functions with the cloud environments, “securely, at high speed, and with low latency”. As in its offerings to the government sector, the hybrid cloud offerings will be modular, a set of menu for its customers to choose from, as NEC said in the announcement.

In addition to the growing business, NEC’s own capability has also benefited from the collaboration. Having already grown its number of AWS-certified engineers from 1,500 at the start of their formal partnership at the end of last year to 2,000 by now, NEC aims to increase that number to 3,000.

“AWS welcomes NEC’s commitment and delivery of solutions built on AWS to deliver high-quality solutions that accelerate customer’ digital transformations,” Doug Yeum, Global Head of Alliances & Channels at AWS, was quoted in the press release. “We look forward to NEC’s continued expansion of offerings and further expansion of delivery capabilities to optimize these transformations,” Yeum continued.

NEC’s Toshifumi Yoshizaki and AWS’s Matt Garman, SVP of Sales and Marketing went on video to share their delight and confidence in this enhanced and upgraded partnership. “NEC is now expanding the collaboration with AWS in the areas of global 5G, digital government and in enhanced hybrid cloud offerings. With the strong global support from AWS, NEC will help drive digital transformation in the government sector and across industries as part of orchestrating a brighter world,” Yoshizaki said.

“NEC has been a trusted strategic partner and customer of AWS for a number of years,” Garman said in his greeting message. “We’re proud of the work that we’ve done thus far to provide migration integration and consulting services to our customers, and we’re excited about expanding our collaboration with NEC to jointly help customers implement 5G, digital government and hybrid cloud solutions, all on AWS,” Garman added.

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