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5 Things Partners Need To Know About The Microsoft- AT&T 5G Deal

The trend of software-defined networking and the opportunity to join 5G and cloud technologies made the AT&T deal appealing and gives Microsoft’s telecom cloud a leap forward, Shawn Hakl, Microsoft’s vice president of 5G strategy, tells CRN.

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Telecommunications operators are already “intensely interested” in working with Microsoft partners after the tech giant’s deal to acquire AT&T’s Network Cloud and software to improve its carrier-grade Azure for Operators cloud, Shawn Hakl, Microsoft’s vice president of 5G strategy, told CRN.

5G at the edge is still in its earliest days, Hakl said. Manufacturers, oil rigs, mines and agricultural business are some of the early adopters he’s seen, but the use of cloud technology for core networking “has skyrocketed in the last six months,” creating plenty of opportunity for channel partners.

“The operators that we work with are intensely interested in the ecosystem and the ecosystem participation from partners because they want the innovation,” Hakl said.

“Microsoft’s traditional strength is being able to leverage that broad partner ecosystem,” he continued. “That strategy hasn’t changed. We’re not changing what Microsoft does here. That playbook works pretty well everywhere else. We fully expected that partner approach to work very well with Azure for Operators.”

Zac Paulson, CEO of TrueIT, a Fargo, N.D.-based Microsoft partner and No. 496 on CRN’s 2021 Solution Provider 500 list, told CRN that the news helps prove the use case for Azure and should bring more companies in the Internet of Things space onto Microsoft’s cloud product.

“We are fully bought in on the Microsoft stack, so collaboration between two heavyweights in their respective classes always brings opportunity to the marketplace,” Paulson said.

Here’s what you need to know.

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