A New Vision for 5G Networks


By Shekar Ayyar, VMware Executive Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development and General Manager of Telco NFV Group

Last week, attendees in a packed auditorium at Mobile World Congress watched a team of doctors from Hospital Clinic Barcelona remove a cancerous tumor from a patient. What made this moment unusual? The head of the hospital’s surgery unit oversaw the entire operation in real time from three miles away, while on stage at Fira Gran Via … all made possible through a 5G connection.

With the near-zero latency that 5G brings, we have a chance to make this kind of remote surgery a common practice. That opens up opportunities to address the global shortage of qualified surgeons, by enabling surgical specialists to guide operations in real time from any location.

This is just one example. Yet it speaks to the excitement that’s building as 5G moves from concept to market reality. The 5G build-out permeated almost every conversation I had at Mobile World Congress last week. Strolling around the show floor, I found myself pondering all the cool new innovations through the lens of 5G and what it can enable—from robots and drones to virtual and augmented reality glasses and health-monitoring devices.

Communications service providers (CSPs) are acutely aware that they’ve reached an inflection point. With the combination of 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT) and edge, CSPs now have an amazing opportunity that was unimaginable just a couple of years ago. The backdrop is an underlying technology convergence that’s accelerating across multiple dimensions, including the unification of wireline and wireless, network and IT, private and public (hybrid), along with telco and edge clouds.

5G requires a new vision and a new architecture, along with an ability to embrace new operating models and new business models.

Shekar Ayyar, VMware EVP of Strategy and Corporate Development and GM of Telco NFV Group

I believe the opportunity for CSPs to become a new class of cloud leaders is tangible and real. But there’s a catch: 5G requires a new vision and a new architecture, along with an ability to embrace new operating models and new business models. CSPs need to break out of their comfort zone and move beyond their rigid legacy networks. Many CSPs have learned the hard way that their existing architectures bring risks that are an impediment to 5G success. Why? Because when you rely on a hardware-centric approach, the cost of 5G deployment is too high, time to market is too slow, and the 5G/IoT security challenge becomes impossible to manage.

What’s required is a new “telco cloud” that leverages the cost, agility and scalability advantages that are inherent in any cloud architecture. With a telco cloud foundation, CSPs can unify their network and IT environments and connect them with private enterprise clouds, edge clouds, as well as public clouds like AWS. The telco cloud provides them a platform to build and deliver new applications and services for both the consumer market and the enterprise.

Just as the internet was the catalyst for the web, I believe 5G will be transformative in propelling the next great wave of immersive mobile experiences. Frankly, we’re just beginning to imagine what those services will look like. I can’t wait to see these opportunities come to fruition, and it’s exciting to be a part of this massive, once-in-a-generation technology shift.