‘We have Built the Largest Mobile Networks of the World’
Ericsson today is transforming itself to become a leading ICT player, with its key focus areas being cloud and IP. The company intends to use its network experience and competence to create compelling cloud solutions and strives to be number 1 in the tele
—Jason Hoffman Director, Business Unit Cloud and IP, Ericsson
Voice&Data: How did you venture into cloud and how has your journey been so far… after joining Ericsson?
Jason Hoffman: In 2004, I launched a public cloud offering that is still the oldest surviving infrastructure service offering and I was both the CTO and CEO of that company. So, in that respect you can say that we were the pioneers in this space.
When I came on Ericsson board, it was largely about changing some platform aspects for virtualizing core networking applications.
Then we turned it into an actual externalized cloud business. As you must be aware, Ericsson largely builds and operates mobile network infrastructure.
A year ago, we developed a business unit for Cloud and IP and started looking at six areas needed for cloud. The first one was data centre facility, a highly marginal, very efficient and a completely software automated facility.
Then, we thought of expanding
hardware capabilities to four range of hardware, which allowed us to have a very modern approach to be able to do networks compute and storage with a single hardware design.
After that, we did majority acquisition of a company called Apcera in the application platform space. That’s about hybrid cloud management, container platform and micro-services platform, an IoT platform, a data analytics platform. So, this became a set business within cloud.
Afterwards, we did data platforms as well and launched a few data storage products.
Voice&Data: How do you see the overall transformation in Ericsson as it strives to be number 1 telco cloud infrastructure provider?
Jason Hoffman: Earlier, we used to use the traditional infrastructure to do voice, but voice doesn’t require a lot backend infrastructure.
As we started doing messaging and media, the need for a lot of backend infrastructure was felt. So, there’s a transition taking place, the transition from human being the end users to devices being the end users, then you also have these cases of data collection and control system showing up.
Today, we have networks where people predominantly consume video downloads. However, the future of this whole infrastructure will be a tremendous amount of uploads.
Therefore, being a network provider only is not sufficient to enable this change. We actually need to have compute and storage capabilities and have to connect all these things with IP.
We have built the largest machine which is the mobile networks of the world and that’s pretty much a network present in every country, no matter where you go.
When we look at the IoT (Internet of Things) space being used by multinationals wanting to go somewhere and collect a bunch of data and send these in storage environments across multiple countries, the same platform approach, like radio, has to be taken.
So, our total infrastructure is a simplified radio, cloud is the next layer up and the whole thing is connected by IP. There is a radio platform group and cloud platform group and the connection is through IP.
On top of it, there are applications and data that are involved in all these different use-cases in different models.
In fact, we have gone ahead and done a pretty good job on the mobile network side and as all the use cases were changing and end users were changing, we were in a pretty good position to move into the other part of the infrastructure, the cloud cover, which is critical for us to be successful and critical for our customers to be successful as well.
From being mobile network infrastructure providers to complete infrastructure providers is actually the need of the hour for IoT.
Voice&Data: What are your expectations with respect to cloud uptake in India?
Jason Hoffman: We are here, at this event, for the launch in India. We launched the broad portfolio of our cloud solutions at the Mobile World Congress in the beginning of March.
In this about five months, the response from customers, non-customers and analysts has been extremely positive. We have been trying to do unique products that don’t exist in this space. We wanted to take our knowledge of telecom, what large scale cloud providers and large scale web people were doing, what’s wrong with typical enterprise IT things, and therefore we started looking towards architecture and products a couple of years ahead.
We are making sure that we are the only vendor to whom someone can come and get the right kind of capabilities. It has been very well received because we are striving for business models and participating in the value-chain in a certain part. And also the price-points of our products, we are actually keeping them dramatically lower than others.
We are talking about 60% reduction in hardware, a 60% reduction in power,
a 75% reduction in operational costs and we know that we can drive those numbers up.
For a market like India, our ability is to sit down and say that we are going to deliver to our customers and I think that approach is needed in this market to actually modernize the infrastructure and do it in a scale that India requires.
Voice&Data: What would be your key differentiators to sell your cloud products in the India market?
Jason Hoffman: We have something from a unit cost perspective. It’s very inexpensive, yet there is no sacrifice on quality, scalability, performance and reliability. If you can get something 8090% cheaper without compromising on quality then that can be fantastic and helps quite a lot.
We are looking at the large-scale automation and that’s very important for a market of this size. We are also doing things around security and governance and ensuring that data is not tampered with.
Our whole approach on security and governance is really important for Digital India where digitizing things can occur at that very low price-point that the citizens can themselves say that the technology has the features and capabilities to protect me and my data. And that’s how we differentiate in this space.
Voice&Data: How are telcos adopting the cloud infrastructure and modernizing their networks?
Jason Hoffman: Cloud adoption has been very high, both in public as well as private cloud. In IT and OSS/BSS operations, it has been extremely high. We have been moving the telecom infrastructure, which is the core network itself, and the supporting infrastructure for the mobile networks to the cloud. We have launched the virtualized infrastructure and applications in this space; It will be completed by mid-2016.
—Jason Hoffman Director, Business Unit Cloud and IP, Ericsson