Linux hopes to give telco cloud a Sylva lining

The recently-launched Linux Foundation Europe has set its sights on open source telco cloud.

Nick Wood

November 16, 2022

3 Min Read
Cloud Computing Technology

The recently-launched Linux Foundation Europe has set its sights on open source telco cloud.

On Tuesday, the group unveiled Project Sylva, which is tasked with creating a production-ready, telco grade cloud stack based on open source software. Such a thing is needed, claims LF Europe, in order to reduce complexity and fragmentation in the supply of telco and edge cloud infrastructure.

Addressing these challenges will ultimately accelerate cloud migration, LF Europe says. Project Sylva’s activities will also support and build on those carried out by adjacent LF groups, including LF Networking and LF Edge.

“Sylva is the perfect example of the high-impact open collaborations we see flourishing under LF Europe, as it brings together leading telco stakeholders to deliver innovation to address a concrete industry-wide business challenge,” declared Gabriele Columbro, general manager of LF Europe, in a statement.

Indeed, Sylva is backed by some of the biggest names in telecoms. Operators Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica, Telecom Italia and Vodafone are all on board, as are vendors Ericsson and Nokia.

Together the group aims to release a cloud software framework that establishes its requirements; develop solutions that can be integrated within existing open source network components; and produce production-grade solutions ready to be used in commercial products. It also plans to launch a reference implementation, and create an integration and validation programme to stimulate adoption.

In addition, coming under the umbrella of LF Europe, Project Sylva will also ensure that its software will comply with EU requirements related to privacy, security, and energy efficiency. That said, despite its European flavour, LF Europe is pitching Project Sylva firmly as a global player in the telco cloud ecosystem.

“We are pleased to collaborate closely with leading European telcos and vendors eager to more fully harness the power of open source to accelerate cloudification of the network within EU privacy and security guidelines,” said Arpit Joshipura, the Linux Foundation’s general manager of networking, edge and IoT. “A unified approach to hosting 5G deployment applications from the core to the RAN is critical for fostering innovation for broad digital transformation, augmenting work in LF Networking and LF Edge communities.”

This is all well and good, but surely public cloud is the future of telco cloud, right?

After all, Gartner recently predicted that despite a looming economic downturn, end user spending on public cloud services will reach $591.8 billion in 2023, up 20 percent year-on-year. US-based Dish got a lot of attention when it announced its 5G network would run on Amazon Web Services (AWS). AT&T did a deal with Microsoft to migrate some of its 5G workloads to Azure. Further afield, New Zealand incumbent Spark is working with AWS on various 5G standalone (SA) proof-of-concepts that could lead somewhere exciting.

However, as with a lot of trends in this industry, the hype around telco public cloud is somewhat detached from reality.

As Dell’Oro pointed out in August, of the 27 5G SA networks in commercial operation, only one – presumably Dish – is running all of its 5G workloads on the public cloud. The rest have deployed their own telco clouds. The research firm expects that between now and 2026, cumulative revenues from 5G workloads hosted in the public cloud will reach $4.6 billion. That is a drop in the ocean compared to the sums that Gartner reckons will be spent on public cloud next year alone.

With all that in mind, the size of the telco cloud opportunity looks – for now – like it is sufficiently large enough to merit the combined efforts of those Project Sylva members, provided they can organise themselves quickly enough to capture it.


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About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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