Oracle is another enterprise provider which sees private networks, and especially the conjunction of 5G and edge, as an important trend which will enhance its value for telco customers.
The company is best known for its enterprise databases and other software and services, which have been on a long journey to the cloud, but most of its 5G business to date has been driven by its communications division, a relatively small unit which has been built around the acquisition, in 2013, of two suppliers of signalling and IP infrastructure, particularly session border controllers. These were Tekelec and Acme Packet, and Oracle has built a business in signalling and policy control for cellular core networks around those assets. Most of the customers are still LTE-based, but it claims several 5G wins, one made public (KT in South Korea).
John Lenns, Oracle’s VP of product management for signalling solutions, said in an interview with LightReading that the former Tekelec portfolio was the entry point to many 5G opportunities, but it will be the cloud-based enterprise software that will give Oracle a high value strategic position in telco accounts.
The company is now promising to offer operators “an end-to-end cloud-based solution, with or without edge”, and this summer, it announced that it will offer hosted 5G core network-as-a-service to MNOs, on a subscription basis, from later this year. In this respect, Oracle is chasing Microsoft, which recently acquired cloud-based core provider Affirmed, and HPE. Oracle will also license 5G core network functions for operators to deploy in their own data centers.
“Oracle recognizes the need to deliver not just an Oracle public cloud but cloud to customers,” Lenns said. “Sometimes for cost or technology reasons you do things on customer premise.” While enterprise and private 5G networks are currently the driver of these on-premise or hybrid strategies, slicing will come into play in future. Oracle envisages packaging a selection of enterprise-specific applications with a network slice to offer to industries in future, directly or via operator partners.
“What happens with these dedicated spectrums and what the big enterprises will do – everybody’s watching,” Lenns said in the interview. “We haven’t announced anything regarding going directly to enterprises for this offering… Technically there wouldn’t be anything stopping that.” But he added: “Make no mistake – we want to empower the CSPs to be successful selling to customers. There is a huge business to be had by making the CSPs successful.”
He even hinted that Oracle could consider acquiring a RAN vendor in order to add RAN VNFs and as-a-service platforms to its portfolio in future – a model that might be particularly relevant to enterprises, private networks or slices, and specialized MNOs.