The Cloud-native computing for telcos: definitions, challenges and opportunities

Communications service providers (CSPs) are weighed down by the legacy software architecture that proliferates across their organisations, including in their foundational asset, the network. This software has not been designed for digital service provider (DSP) infrastructure the cloud and CSPs' software capabilities are uncompetitive with those of web-scale companies. Those CSPs aiming to become treu DSPs must adopt cloudnative computing across their businesses.

Table of contents

About this report


Executive summary

Mastery of cloud-native computing is critical for DSPs, but adoption is fraught with challenges

Telco industry players should prioritise cloud-native computing if they are committed to becoming DSPs

Key recommendations


Not all CSPs are willing or able to transform themselves into DSPs

DSPs expect to gain significant business benefits over other types of telco, but need a strong appetite for risk


The principles of cloud-native computing have developed over the past 5 years and its definition is still evolving

Microservices oriented: Applications need to be developed as, or refactored into, microservices

Containerised: Applications must be packaged in containers

Dynamically orchestrated: Application containers must be centrally and dynamically orchestrated


True believers must do more to accelerate their own rate of adoption, while hybrids have a vested interest in accelerating that of their vendors

Key telco barriers to cloud-native computing must be understood and addressed before mainstream adoption can take place

Selecting the right base technologies is tricky in a fragmented ecosystem, but the current winners are emerging



Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF)




Red Hat



About the authors

Analysys Masons consulting and research are uniquely positioned

Research from Analysys Mason

Consulting from Analysys Mason


List Of Figures

Figure 1: Drivers of digital transformation and recommendations for CSPs

Figure 2: Benchmarks for cloud-native computing KPIs set by FANG companies

Figure 3: Three ways in which CSPs should advance cloud-native network function virtualisation

Figure 4: Characteristics of the three types of CSP

Figure 5: KPIs for the three types of CSP

Figure 6: The evolution of cloud-native computing

Figure 7: The CNCFs definition of microservices oriented

Figure 8: Example of how a virtual network function might be decomposed into microservices

Figure 9: CNCFs definition of container-packaged applications

Figure 10: Comparison of containers and virtual machines

Figure 11: CNCFs definition of dynamically orchestrated

Figure 12: Overview of the container platform and container engine

Figure 13: Strategies for accelerating cloud-native adoption

Figure 14: Four key barriers to rapid adoption of cloud-native computing

Figure 15: Overview of the CNCF tooling taxonomy

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