Vodafone pays IBM $550M in 5G driven cloud services deal

Vodafone pays IBM $550M in 5G driven cloud services deal

Eight-year managed-services agreement

Credit: Dreamstime

Vodafone is teaming up with IBM to offer businesses a way to link different cloud computing systems to support the next wave of digital advances, such as machine learning, on super-fast fifth-generation telecoms networks.

As part of the deal, the telecoms operator will pay US$550 million to IBM under an eight-year managed-services agreement that will offer tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to networked businesses.

The two companies are pitching the venture as a combination of cloud computing and connectivity that would, for example, enable super-fast communication between robots on a factory floor without the need for a big 'pipe' back to a data centre.

And, with an estimated 70 per cent of organisations using up to 15 different cloud systems, the ability to link them should make it easier for firms to adapt and innovate without having to redesign their networks from the ground up.

"Businesses are beginning to embrace digital ... as they do that they get a lot of complexity," Greg Hyttenrauch of Vodafone, one of the co-leaders of the project, told Reuters in an interview. "We predicated this venture on the ability to simplify that complexity."

Vodafone has built a strong position in mobile services for business - it is the no.1 or no.2 provider in Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain - and is stepping up its battle against BT, Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia and Telefonica in the fixed-line business market.

It aims to grow business service revenue, which currently accounts for 30 percent of its total, by combining fixed-line and mobile services with new technology in areas like AI and the Internet of Things.

On the cusp of 5G

The venture will focus on Vodafone's British, German and Irish markets, targeting multinationals and national enterprises operating in industries such as retail, manufacturing, utilities, agriculture or transportation.

It is expected to be operational in the first half of 2019.

The partnership seeks to bring IBM's prowess in handling multiple cloud-based systems to bear, and reflects the priorities behind its US$34 billion takeover of Red Hat, a software firm that specialises in Linux operating systems, said IBM's Michael Valocchi, the other co-lead.

Analyst Dave Bartoletti at Forrester Research said the deal recognised Vodafone's need for a partner to build out its cloud computing services.

At the same time, IBM is moving away from competing head on with "hyper-scale" cloud providers like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google that offer hosted memory, network and storage services that can grow with the needs of big, data-intensive businesses.

Instead, it is aiming to be "the go-to company for enterprises who need to stitch together multiple cloud platforms", said Bartoletti.

Analyst Carla Arend at IDC estimates the global cloud market at US$420 billion this year, with the market for global cloud connectivity worth another US$2 billion.

"The combined global market opportunity is huge," she said.

Ireland and Britain have already allocated 5G spectrum and Germany is about to auction frequencies for a mobile technology that will offer downloads far faster than on existing networks, as well as ultra-low 'latency' - or reaction times.

Combining these characteristics with significant computing power will make it possible to deploy applications such as AI, or computerised problem solving, in the field.

Telecoms operators say they expect to start offering 5G services from next year in European markets that have moved to allocate spectrum and build out networks.

(Additional reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Mark Potter)

Follow Us

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags CloudVodafoneIBMManaged Services5G



Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2018 inductees - Chris Simpson, Kendra Ross and Phill Patton - to the third running of the Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed the changing landscape of the technology industry in New Zealand, while outlining ways to attract a new breed of players to the ecosystem. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch
Upcoming tech talent share insights at inaugural Emerging Leaders Forum 2019

Upcoming tech talent share insights at inaugural Emerging Leaders Forum 2019

The channel came together for the inaugural Reseller News Emerging Leaders Forum in New Zealand, created to provide a program that identifies, educates and showcases the upcoming talent of the ICT industry. Hosted as a half day event, attendees heard from industry champions as keynoters and panelists talked about future opportunities and leadership paths and joined mentoring sessions with members of the ICT industry Hall of Fame. The forum concluded with 30 Under 30 Tech Awards across areas of Sales, Entrepreneur, Marketing, Management, Technical and Human Resources. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Upcoming tech talent share insights at inaugural Emerging Leaders Forum 2019
Show Comments