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13 September 2021

NEC deepens 5G edge alliance with AWS to target enterprise services

Operators are increasingly seeking partnerships with hyperscalers to help them expand into new geographies and services, but vendors, too, know that alliances with cloud giants can be valuable tools of expansion. Nokia has been particularly active in partnering with US cloud providers to accelerate the growth of its cloud-based enterprise networking offerings, and to avoid direct conflict with such powerful stakeholders. Now NEC is looking for similar benefits, extending its strategic collaboration with AWS to target government and enterprise customers.

For operators, there is a risk that their key vendors will be able to offer some services, such as private networks or hosted 5G cores, on their own, bypassing telco connectivity and placing the cloud providers at the center of their partnership strategies.

NEC’s plan is to offer a portfolio of 5G and public or hybrid cloud services to enterprises, bringing its network expertise to the partnership while AWS provides cloud and edge infrastructure and ecosystem.

The Japanese vendor, which is targeting an international mobile network business for the first time thanks to its prominence in Open RAN, will offer services from OSS to the network edge. It will contribute the cloud-native 5G core it initially developed with Rakuten as well as OSS/BSS products and services from one of its most global businesses, Netcracker.

The focus will be on infrastructure and applications for the enterprise 5G edge as well as an enhanced hybrid cloud offering to connect on-premise and public cloud environments to support enterprise digital transformation.

NEC has already increased its AWS-certified engineers to 2,000, up from 1,500 in November 2020, and is targeting a team of 3,000 by 2024. It has been certified as an AWS Government Competency .

Initially the business will target Japanese companies and government departments but the vision is for a global offering centred in NEC’s 5G core and BSS/OSS, running on AWS.

NEC’s EVP Toshifumi Yoshizaki said the partnership was “the first of its kind” between AWS and a Japanese company. He added: “It has been a great year, seeing many successes in the areas of government, modernization and in the skill enhancement of NEC engineers.”

“Together we’ve invested in people and go-to-market initiatives that are making it easier for enterprises and government customers to digitally transform in the cloud,” said Matt Garman, SVP of sales and marketing at AWS, referring to the expanded NEC alliance. He said NEC’s previous internal migration from SAP to AWS laid the foundations for the current services, giving NEC the experience to provide migration, integration and consulting services to others making a similar transition.

NEC also has a multiyear strategic partnership with Microsoft Azure, which was extended in June to make Azure NEC’s preferred cloud platform provider.