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17 May 2022

Vodafone works with Google Cloud to unify European operations 

Vodafone is deploying its recently developed Unified Performance Management (UPM) system across its 11 European countries of operation, to reduce its own costs and provide a common platform for boosting performance and resilience of emerging 5G-based edge compute services.  


The operator recruited Google Cloud and data analytics firm to support this exercise, not out of necessity, it argued, but to avoid diverting internal technical staff from their work on critical operational and customer-facing tasks. This includes development of new 5G and edge compute services on a pan-European basis, where the operator will compete increasingly with other multinational telcos such as Orange, Telefónica  and Deutsche Telekom, as well hyperscalers and systems integrators.   


Vodafone said the cloud-native UPM platform will monitor, manage, and improve its pan-European mobile network, replacing over 100 legacy network performance applications and gathering 8bn datapoints from network sources. Vodafone refers to this as “a single source of clean data in the cloud” which can be analyzed and acted on.  


“All data is stored within Vodafone’s own on-premise data lake on servers in Europe,” said a spokesperson. “Data will be protected with appropriate state of the art security and privacy protections such as encryption, anonymization, pseudonymization and aggregation and will be accessible only by authorized users.” 


This last point is particularly pertinent in the EU countries where Vodafone operates, including Germany, Spain, Ireland, The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal and Hungary. In those countries, data privacy and governance are covered by the EU’s GDPR rules, which came into force across all member states in May 2018. 


The platform incorporates machine learning algorithms to optimize upgrade processes and also detect anomalies that might indicate either faults or impending cyber-attacks. The operator has also pitched the platform as part of a five-year digital transformation leading towards greater automation and resilience, as well as to help reduce energy consumption.  


“As the needs of our 300m-plus mobile customers evolve so will our network using this new platform,” said Johan Wilbergh, Vodafone’s group CTO. “It is a global data hub that gives us a real time view of what is happening anywhere on our network, uses our global scale to manage traffic growth cheaper and more efficiently as customer data consumption grows by around 40% per year, and supports the full automation of our network by 2025.” 


Vodafone claimed that efforts to rationalize its core network had already reduced major IT incidents by nearly 70% this year, and also that this is also enabling new products and services 50% faster by freeing up Vodafone’s expanding technology workforce. 


The involvement of Google Cloud is notable in so far that the operator has criticized some of its peers for becoming too dependent on the big hyperscalers. But it tries to escape the charge of hypocrisy by keeping hyperscalers at some distance from its core operations, with the Google Cloud alliance being more about technology and analytics.