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Modernize and monetize your network investments with Microsoft Azure Operator Nexus | Azure Blog


Azure Operator Nexus is now generally available  

Earlier this year at MWC Barcelona, Microsoft announced the public preview of Azure Operator Nexus, a carrier-grade and hybrid platform, built to empower telecom operators to modernize and transform their networks. Operator Nexus enables operators to use cloud technology to modernize and monetize their network investments—lowering total cost of ownership (TCO), driving operational efficiency and resiliency with advanced AI and automation, and improving the security of highly distributed, software-based networks. Today, we announce that Operator Nexus is now generally available (GA). 

Image shows a high-level architecture and key components for the Azure Operator Nexus product.

Since MWC, we’ve incorporated additional features based on insightful feedback from customers. With the latest release of Operator Nexus, some of the new features include: 

  • Network Fabric Automation—enables operators to build, operate, and manage carrier-grade network fabric from Azure. It performs several functions like bootstrapping and configuration, application of network policies, lifecycle management, creation of tenant workload network, and providing observability of the network devices. Network Fabric Automation provides a single point of control and visibility across the entire network fabric for the Operator Nexus platform and host tenant workloads.  
  • Network Packet Broker—allows operators to efficiently capture, aggregate, filter, and monitor traffic. It enables operators to monitor large complex networks and provide network-level visibility to aid with service planning and troubleshooting of service problems. It also plays a vital role in enhancing troubleshooting capabilities, meeting regulatory requirements, and enabling organizations to maintain the optimal performance and security of their networks.  
  • Enhanced Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)—for on-premises use. Operator Nexus contains specific extensions to optimize the automated creation of containers to host tenant network function workloads. This new extension improves resilience and the availability of the cluster; it also enables operators to isolate and manage the performance of specific workloads. 
  • Azure Lockbox—provides operators with an additional layer of operational control over access to their data stored in the Azure cloud platform. This feature allows operators to approve or deny access to their data by Microsoft support engineers who may require access for troubleshooting or maintenance purposes. In those rare circumstances where such access is required, Azure Lockbox provides an interface for customers to review and approve or reject customer data access requests. 
  • Placement control of network functions—this feature gives more control to the operators on workloads deployment placement within a cluster. The operators can use this feature for improved performance, efficiency, and resiliency of the workloads. 
  • For observability, Operator Nexus has native integration with Azure Monitor—operators can send data to either Azure Operator Insights, Log Analytics Workspace (LAW), or Azure Data Explorer (ADX) cluster. Log Analytics Workspace offers a wide range of built-in capabilities, including log analytics, visualization, alerting, and more. Alternatively, operators can view the logging data using ADX cluster, which provides a low-cost alternative to LAW. If the main purpose is to retain the observability data for Retention and Information Management (RIM) compliance, operators can choose to send the data to a storage account. 
  • As part of the Azure AIOPs offers, Azure Operator Service Manager (AOSM)—transforms the operator service management experience into a modern cloud service. It simplifies the management of complex, multi-part, multi-vendor service deployments across thousands of hybrid cloud sites, including Azure regions, edge platforms, and Azure Arc-connected infrastructure. AOSM offers benefits like a single management experience for Microsoft and third-party network functions, automation enriched with Azure’s industry-leading cognitive services, and strict software distribution security enforcement, ensuring that what is published is what gets deployed. 

AT&T deployment successfully reaches new milestone 

AT&T continues to work closely with Microsoft on Operator Nexus from early access and into GA.  AT&T has begun deploying Network Function workloads in its labs, with the intent to deploy them into production environments. 

“Operator Nexus GA is an important milestone in our journey with Microsoft and ecosystem collaborators on Telco Grade cloud for Mobility 5G Core. We are excited to see our vision of Telco grade cloud powered by Microsoft Azure and AI technologies deployed in AT&T data centers and operated by AT&T. This will help deliver simplified operations, lower total cost of ownership, and improved time to market so we can continue to forge ahead with building the world’s best 5G service.” 

—Igal Elbaz, Senior Vice President, Network CTO, AT&T 

The expanding Operator Nexus ecosystem 

Network function vendors have had the opportunity to experience early access to Operator Nexus through the Ready program, which certifies that the ecosystem of cloud-native network functions (CNFs), virtual network functions (VNFs), and other software interoperate with Operator Nexus. The close collaboration between Microsoft and its many software vendors has enabled each partner to use real-world workloads to prioritize and build on platform features.  

For example, Nokia successfully executed an end-to-end 5G Standalone (SA) call, using its 5G core CNFs running on Operator Nexus. The company also established a reference design guide for its 5G core on Nexus. In another example, Ericsson, building on the success of working with AT&T, is now ready to begin trialing its cloud-native 5G Core with operators on Operator Nexus.  

This early, positive feedback helps to ensure the success of our lighthouse customer, AT&T. Of equal significance, partners are now familiar with the process of what it entails to bring updated or additional network functions to this platform in the future. Continued relationships with partners through the program will allow for a robust, trusted collection of network functions that are deployment-ready for Operator Nexus. 

We are pleased to expand our strategic collaboration with Microsoft, focusing on cloud-based network solutions within their Operator Nexus architecture. This alliance includes various capabilities, from PCC (policy, charging, and control) to end-to-end service orchestration, driving network automation for agility and enhanced monetization. By integrating Amdocs’ network functions into the Operator Nexus framework, we accelerate operators’ network transformations, reaffirming our commitment to technological innovation on the cloud.” 

—Anthony Goonetilleke, Group President of Technology and Head of Strategy, Amdocs

“Our validation efforts with Microsoft have reached a watershed moment where operators are now able to test our 5G Core applications and orchestration suite on Operator Nexus and address their design goals for efficiency, security, and reliability.”

—Monica Zethzon, Vice President and Head of Solution Area Core Networks, Ericsson

“We look forward to building on our support of Operator Nexus with the onboarding of HPE’s network functions in order to give operators the opportunity to drive their next generation of core networks.”

—David Stark, VP Product & Portfolio Management, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

“Together with Microsoft, we’ve achieved key milestones that will give operators confidence to use our cloud-native 5G Core on Operator Nexus to meet their network modernization and monetization goals.”

—Fran Heeran, SVP, Core Networks, Nokia Cloud and Network Services, Nokia

What’s next: Preview for future releases

Building on the experience that comes from running Operator Nexus for a fully deployed, tier 1 operator network, in the future, we are looking forward to: 

  • Continuing to expand the Operator Nexus Ready ecosystem to include additional network function providers and new containerized and virtualized network functions, supporting RAN, Packet Core, Transport, and Enterprise services.
  • Releasing a smaller form factor deployment of Operator Nexus, optimized at both the hardware and software layers, to support the unique needs of the RAN for features such as in-line and look-aside network acceleration. 
  • Expanding AIOps functionality, integrating the power of Generative AI to improve how networks are designed, deployed, and operated.

Learn more about Azure Operator Nexus 

  • For telecom operators interested to modernize and monetize their network investments, signup here.