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Hyperscalers dominate at Digital Transformation World 2022

The TM Forum’s Digital Transformation World event returned after its Covid hiatus with a renewed focus on collaborating with hyperscalers.

Essentially this means the public cloud giants. AWS is a principle sponsor of DTW 2022, Microsoft has been a TM Forum member for years and Google Cloud joined a couple of weeks ago. The ‘digital transformation’ buzzword has increasingly come to mean CSPs becoming more ‘cloud native’, all the better to interact seamlessly with the public cloud.

At the start of the day one keynotes, TM Forum execs stressed how important it is to view hyperscalers as customers and partners, rather than competitors and threats, and how the industry needs to step back from a telco-centric view of the world. It felt like, in the three years since the last DTW event, the TM Forum has fully made its peace with the central role hyperscalers must inevitably play in its core mission of modernising the telecoms industry.

“We’re delighted to welcome Google Cloud to the Forum as our newest member and excited about the innovation, technology and experience they bring to our community,” said Nik Willetts, TM Forum CEO, when it joined. “It is an honour for us that Google Cloud has chosen TM Forum as the place to help the world of telecoms unlock the full value cloud-native automation, data and AI at scale. This is a crucial pillar of our mission to accelerate the growth and potential of our industry to meet the needs of the digital economy over the next decade.”

From the telecom industry side, the TM Forum now focuses its efforts in this area through an initiative it calls Open Digital Architecture, which it describes as follows: ‘ODA replaces traditional OSS/BSS with a new approach to building software for the telecoms industry, opening a market for standardized, cloud-native software components, and enabling communication service providers and suppliers to invest in IT for new and differentiated services instead of maintenance and integration.’

The DTW event has always talked a good game on catalysing telecoms software development via things like open APIs, but for outside observers it was largely an article of faith that these initiatives were genuinely useful. However the first operator keynote was provided by Indian giant Jio and we learned that it is an early adopter of ODA, which is a fairly strong endorsement.

Another is Vodafone, which went so far as to add its Chief Digital & IT Officer Scott Petty to the TM Forum board earlier this year specifically to drive the development of ODA. “Vodafone is a creator and early adopter of TM Forum’s ODA and APIs to digitally transform and thrive in the digital era,” said Willetts at the time. “Scott’s expertise in driving digital transformation makes him an ideal addition to the Board of Directors as he understands how Communication Service Providers (CSPs) can establish their business on digital architecture to drive business, organizational and operational agility.”

Eventually Adolfo Hernandez, VP of the Global Telco Business Unit at AWS, took to the stage for a spot of light Q&A. There was some very gentle dancing around the matter of how successful AWS has been in overcoming hesitance about surrendering control and persuading telcos to join the public cloud party. In the resulting conversation Hernandez expressed the patience of a person who knows their agenda will prevail eventually and it’s just a matter of time until the industry bows to the inevitable.

That position encapsulated the overall vibe presented by the opening morning of DTW 2022. The message was that it’s time to fully embrace hyperscalers as fundamental partners in the digital transformation process. The struggle is finished. The telecoms industry has won the victory over itself. It loves Big Tech.

 

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