New technologies, COVID-19, regulations, and geopolitics are all changing the telecoms industry faster than ever.
It can be hard to know where things are headed at times, but here are five major trends that should be on everyone's radar in 2022.
European policymakers are doubling down on data sovereignty, which creates a raft of new opportunities.
As the continent looks to regain control of its digital destiny, policymakers are turning to telcos for trusted services and infrastructure that reduce hyperscaler dependency.
Over in France, Orange has teamed up with Capgemini to set up Bleu, a new company that will provide “Cloud de Confiance” solutions certified to comply with the French state’s privacy, security, and resiliency requirements.
Then there’s Telecom Italia, which is currently bidding for a contract to build a €900 million national cloud hub to upgrade the country's data storage facilities.
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg.
There is also a push for data sovereignty beyond Europe’s borders. While acknowledging the need to work with US-based hyperscalers, many governments now want more control over how to secure and manage data from key sectors such as healthcare and public services.
Data is fast becoming a sovereign asset that must be carefully protected. Any telco delivering on this front will surely stand out from the crowd.
Multi-cloud networking is the logical next step for enterprise IT.
Across the world, we're seeing rising demands for cloud-native technologies that can enhance agility, efficiency, and scalability. At the same time, apps are increasingly composed of micro-services spread across different environments.
Implementation is key here. To connect applications in different environments, you need much more than just networking. You also need security and load-balancing to ensure apps are always available and protected.
This year, we expect that telcos, and their enterprise customers, will put a premium on solutions that reduce multi-cloud complexity.
Already major providers of money transfers, telcos are also going all in on financial services like micro-credit, insurance, and savings.
For example, some telcos are accumulating data to determine credit scores and offer personalized loans with minimal risk. Meanwhile, the burgeoning mobile money ecosystem is empowering hundreds of millions of previously unbanked people to access financial products for the first time.
The expansion of the digital financial services sector makes it a compelling and obvious target for cybercriminals. This means telcos need to markedly improve their security game, including providing advanced protection against DDoS attacks, credential stuffing, and other threats.
Telcos are gradually going cloud-native in pursuit of rapid scalability.
A traditional mobile core network used to be composed of different functions running on purpose-built hardware. That code is now distributed over a set of virtual network functions (VNFs) or cloud-native network functions (CNFs) with separate and distributed control and data plane functions. As they move to standalone 5G networks, telcos will look to interconnect VNFs and CNFs deployed in different environments and locations. Naturally, this increases the attack surface.
Unfortunately, telcos are still figuring out the best way to make their CNFs—and their infrastructure as a whole—fully secured, automated and observable. Against this backdrop, operational simplicity becomes a critical concern.
Cloud-native will be a big buzzword in 2022 (as it was in 2021). And telcos across the world will continue to talk about which workloads they will move into the public cloud. This includes both applications (IT workloads), as well as network functions for specific use cases.
Nevertheless, support for core network functions with stateful protocols and large-scale subscriber sessions can prove challenging and present financial obstacles.
Although deployment costs for some specific use-cases will continue to fall, a more fundamental question in 2022 is how to manage and secure the flow of the sensitive data. Data sovereignty momentum will certainly require many telcos to use the public cloud judiciously, as policymakers increasingly demand that sensitive datasets remain in country and under strict local control (with clear rules on who can and cannot access it). Ultimately, telcos’ transition to the public cloud could still turn into a rather protracted affair.
Interested in learning more about the latest ideas and innovations around cloud-native architecture for service providers? Register now for F5's Agility 2022 virtual event on February 15-16.