Azure for Operators launches as Microsoft faces global outage

29 September 2020 | Melanie Mingas


Microsoft it taking the rough with the smooth this week as it announced the launch of Azure for Operators, while tackling a major global outage.

Supporting “5G and agile infrastructure”, Azure for Operators is a “carrier-grade cloud” designed to boost visibility and control for telcos and offering interconnect, edge platform, network functions and operational support for IoT.

Microsoft said in its market announcement: “Today starts a new chapter in our close collaboration with the telecommunications industry to unlock the power of 5G and bring cloud and edge closer than ever.

“We're building a carrier-grade cloud and bringing more Microsoft technology to the operator’s edge. This, in combination with our developer ecosystem, will help operators to future proof their networks, drive down costs, and create new services and business models.”

The development followed Microsoft’s acquisitions of Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch, which enhanced its edge and networking infrastructure offers for telcos. Further, Azure for Operators builds on the development of Azure Edge Zones.

In developing Azure for Operators, Microsoft collaborated with Telstra and Etisalat and was the founding public cloud partner of the 5G Open Innovation Lab.

Danielle Royston, a public cloud consultant to the telecoms industry for TelcoDR, said: “It’s clear that Microsoft is trying to carve a cutting edge over AWS and Google in the race to be the ‘carrier-grade cloud’ for the telecoms industry.

“With this news, telcos will now be able to tap into the huge investment towards cloud innovation in areas like AI and machine learning, along with the security and scalability that Azure’s environment naturally delivers. It’s critical that if telcos want to remain competitive, they shift to the public cloud as quickly as possible. This is the news they will need to get on their bikes.”

Hot on the heels of this latest announcement, Samsung has confirmed that it is collaborating with Microsoft on an end-to-end, cloud-based private 5G network solution on Azure to accelerate the deployment of 5G networks in enterprises.

Wonil Roh, SVP and global head of product strategy, networks business at Samsung Electronics, said: “We’re excited to be working with Microsoft to help enterprises transform the way they operate through next-generation communications.

“Combining Samsung’s virtualized 5G solutions and Microsoft Azure cloud, we look forward to delivering a best-in-class 5G solution that advances opportunities in the private network sector. Through this collaboration, we will continue to push the boundaries of innovation in 5G and beyond.”

 However, these developments came to light as Microsoft tackled a global outage that brought down cloud-based services including Teams, Outlook and Office 365.

According to reports, the issues were reported by Microsoft at around 9.25pm UTC, impacting services worldwide.

In an update shared a few hours later, the company said: “We’ve determined that a specific portion of our infrastructure is not processing authentication requests in a timely manner. We’re pursuing mitigation steps for this issue.

“In parallel, we’re rerouting traffic to alternate systems to provide further relief to the affected users.”