Why Application Modernization Holds the Future of 5G

January 14, 2021 Kip Cole

For anyone working in telecommunications, the capabilities of 5G are clear. Its rollout has already begun across APAC, with hot spots in Sydney and Melbourne, Hong Kong, Seoul—there are even 5G-enabled robots being used to help fight COVID-19 in Thailand. But to deliver on the promise of 5G, telco service providers across APAC must find ways to not only meet these new bandwidth requirements, but develop the right platform to scale into the future—and manage changing consumer and business behaviors that will see the entire industry shift along the way. 

The APAC region is currently leading the world in the adoption of 5G and is set to remain in that position. Telcos here are planning to spend USD$331 billion on 5G rollouts between 2020 and 2025, and are forecast to account for 65 percent of global 5G subscriptions by 2024. Businesses within the region have the opportunity to set the global standard for 5G services and establish themselves as innovative suppliers. To do so, they need to make the most of available resources to build robust infrastructure and deliver business value. How? With application modernization.

Telco service providers can maximize their returns by investing in app modernization and containerization, tapping into the “sweet spot” of convergence to bring the evolution of communications technology into reality. With 5G, the entire world changes because the bandwidth changes. Leaders must ensure they take the necessary steps now to provide both enterprise and consumer customers with what they’ll need in the future.

Find the application modernization 'sweet spot'

For businesses that have been around for decades—or even centuries—the prospect of refactoring heritage apps can be daunting. But it is essential to pave the way for 5G. Indeed, many telcos are already improving their DevOps approach by embracing application modernization in response to the way people consume data, and are reaping the benefits.

T-Mobile is one of the largest service providers in the United States; it also has a presence in other global markets, including the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and Poland. Back in 2015, it decided to move some of its critical applications to VMware Tanzu Application Service as part of a larger, ongoing transformation project. Although the prospect of moving to a modern, cloud native solution was intimidating, T-Mobile bit the bullet, shifting its most important pieces of software: the middleware layer of the stack responsible for core online and mobile services.

Immediately, T-Mobile was able to scale up or down automatically to meet user traffic. It gradually migrated more and more applications to VMware Tanzu, applying microservices architecture and refactoring large, heritage applications with resiliency across all layers of the stack. With VMware Tanzu Application Service, the business laid the foundation for its digital future. Now, after adding more than 34,000 containers and increasing its release velocity by 40 percent, T-Mobile can focus on preparing for growth and improving software development to maintain its industry-leading position. 

This approach means that T-Mobile is well-prepared as it looks to roll out 5G. Not only is it making use of Kubernetes, it has the right foundations to manage high volumes of customer demands or purchases, which with 5G, are only likely to increase.

Solutions like VMware Tanzu not only help telco service providers scale faster, they allow for infrastructure changes to add containerized microservices, which helps those telcos manage the increased bandwidth of 5G. By optimizing their approach to app modernization, telcos can scale faster and take even existing monolith applications into the cloud. The answer to the big bandwidth of 5G is containerization, all it takes is the right software—and app modernization.

Look up at the telco cloud

When it comes to modernizing this critical infrastructure, it's clear that service providers need to establish cloud native, fully integrated infrastructure. As with the telco cloud, this approach will allow them to transition not just now, but also in the years to come—and will ultimately enable them to improve monetization and deliver broader business benefits. 

This capability is integral to the broader offerings of a telco cloud, and one that allows for a fast pace of innovation. The telco cloud allows service providers to deploy cloud native and virtual network functions throughout 5G networks without disruption; it’s predicted that the Asia-Pacific region will make up one-third of global telco cloud revenue by 2025—a cool $9 billion. In the race to modernize critical infrastructure, the telco cloud holds an advantage as it will act as the foundation of the industry’s focus for years to come, from 5G to edge computing and network slicing. 

All of this needs dynamic and flexible virtualized networks that can perform at scale. Cloud service providers and telcos are already using services like VMware’s Telco Cloud to become 5G-ready faster—while still supporting 4G on the same platform. Vodafone is using the 5G-ready cloud platform to power networks across 15 countries, for example. With the telco cloud, service providers can provision and manage Tanzu Kubernetes clusters to build and transform the apps needed for a 5G future, all while providing the right digital platform itself. Rather than looking down at your network, it’s time to look up at the telco cloud.

Build for the 5G future

Building the right foundations will allow telco service providers to maintain a competitive edge as they transition to the 5G era. There are new opportunities ahead, to lead globally in the cloud era and to maximize business returns as more enterprises and consumers come to rely on these capabilities. Modernizing IT services allows for continuous business innovation; no longer constrained by physical limitations in a fully virtualized environment, you can rapidly deploy applications across data centers, clouds, and devices from anywhere.

For leaders in the telco field, the approach they take must be business-centric, continuous, and multiplatform. Much like laying railroads, setting up the right virtualized infrastructure now will help your business get from A to B smoothly. Business leaders in the telco industry should look to improve application modernization as they shift focus to the telco cloud, harness containers, and scale as bandwidth grows. With the right partnerships and platforms, application modernization can help them monetize and deliver on the 5G promise.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Azazello BQ via Unsplash.

About the Author

Kip Cole is VP, Asia Pacific & Japan, VMware Tanzu.

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