Vodafone and Google to build data platform

  • May 5, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

Vodafone and Google Cloud have signed a six-year partnership to build an integrated data platform and distributed system supporting the creation of digital products and services for customers.

The aim is to drive the use of reliable and secure data analytics, insights and learnings to support the introduction of digital products and services for Vodafone customers simultaneously worldwide.

Expanding their existing agreement, Vodafone and Google Cloud will jointly build an integrated data platform with the added capability of processing and moving huge volumes of data globally from multiple systems into the cloud.

The Nucleus platform will house a new system called Dynamo, which will drive data throughout Vodafone to enable it to offer its customers personalised products and services more quickly across multiple markets. Dynamo will allow Vodafone to tailor connectivity services for homes and businesses through the release of smart network features, such as providing a sudden broadband speed boost.

Capable of processing around 50Tbyte of data per day, equivalent to 25,000 hours of HD film, both Nucleus and Dynamo are being built in-house by Vodafone and Google Cloud specialist teams. Up to 1000 employees of both companies in Spain, UK and USA are collaborating on the project.

Vodafone has already identified more than 700 use-cases to deliver products and services quickly across Vodafone’s markets, support fact-based decision-making, reduce costs, remove duplication of data sources, and simplify and centralise operations. The speed and ease with which Vodafone’s operating companies in multiple countries can access its data analytics, intelligence and machine-learning capabilities will also be improved.

By generating more detailed insight and data-driven analysis across the organisation and with its partners, Vodafone customers around the world can have a better and more enriched experience. Benefits include:

  • Enhancing Vodafone’s mobile, fixed and TV content and connectivity services through the instantaneous availability of personalised rewards, content and applications. For example, a consumer might receive a sudden broadband speed boost based on personalised individual needs.
  • Increasing smart network services in its Google Cloud footprint from eight markets to the entire Vodafone footprint. This allows Vodafone to match precisely network roll-out to consumer demand, increase capacity at critical times, and use machine learning to predict, detect and fix issues before customers are aware of them.
  • Empowering data scientists to collaborate on key environmental and health issues in 11 countries using automated machine-learning tools. Vodafone is already assisting governments and aid organisations, upon their request, with secure, anonymised and aggregated movement data to tackle Covid-19. This partnership should improve Vodafone’s ability to provide deeper insights, in accordance with local laws and regulations, into the spread of disease through intelligent analytics across a wider geographical area.
  • Providing a complete digital replica of many of Vodafone’s internal support functions using artificial intelligence and analytics. Called a digital twin, it enables analytic models on Google Cloud to improve response times to enquiries and predict future demand. The system will also support a digital twin of Vodafone’s digital infrastructure worldwide.
  • Vodafone will re-platform its entire SAP environment to Google Cloud, including the migration of its core SAP workloads and key corporate SAP modules such as SAP Central Finance.

“Vodafone is building a powerful foundation for a digital future,” said Johan Wibergh, chief technology officer for Vodafone. “We have vast amounts of data which, when securely processed and made available across our footprint using the collective power of Vodafone and Google Cloud’s engineering expertise, will transform our services, to our customers and governments, and the societies where they live and serve.”

All data generated by Vodafone in the markets in which it operates are stored and processed in the required Google Cloud facilities as per local jurisdiction requirements and in accordance with local laws and regulations. Customer permissions and Vodafone’s security and privacy by design processes also apply.

On the back of their collaborative work, Vodafone and Google Cloud will also explore opportunities to provide consultancy services, offered either jointly or independently, to other multi-national organisations and businesses.

“Telecommunications firms are increasingly differentiating their customer experiences through the use of data and analytics, and this has never been more important than during the current pandemic,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO at Google Cloud. “We are thrilled to be selected as Vodafone’s global strategic cloud partner for analytics and SAP, and to co-innovate on new products that will accelerate the industry’s digital transformation.”

The platform is being built using hybrid cloud technologies from Google Cloud to facilitate the rapid standardisation and movement of data in both Vodafone’s physical data centres and onto Google Cloud. Dynamo will direct all of Vodafone’s worldwide data, extracting, encrypting and anonymising the data from source to cloud and back again, enabling intelligent data analysis and generating efficiencies and insight.

Vodafone maintains vast troves of valuable business data, and it needs to be able to extract and blend data from one system with data from another, and to move data between multiple business systems. Nucleus is Vodafone’s global integrated data platform with a standard data model and common processes, data sourcing and data products.

Google Cloud and Vodafone are co-developing this platform to help Vodafone reinvent its approach to data, analytics and business intelligence. It will make business insights available more quickly and empower informed decision making. Nucleus will use data that can be trusted, thanks to clear lineage and robust data governance capabilities from Google Cloud.

Dynamo is the part of Nucleus that extracts and manages data from source systems and distributes the data to where they are used. This hybrid data integration system should help Vodafone reduce costs, re-use data artefacts, and simplify and centralise operations across its global footprint.

It uses the latest hybrid cloud technologies to facilitate the movement of data in a standard format using a single technology that runs as one system in Vodafone and Google data centres.

This can encourage re-use of data and compliance with standards across multiple markets by basing all user interfaces on common APIs and strong security and compliance protocols.

It supports the movement of 5000 data feeds per day to the cloud, the equivalent of 50Tbyte per day or more than 10Pbyte each year and growing.

The system avoids duplication of data extraction efforts by building reusable connectors to systems such as SAP and reusable data pipelines, halving the time taken to extract data and reducing the time taken to generate insights. It can also increase the speed at which data pipelines are built by 25%. These pipelines move the data from the source where they are generated to a warehouse or data hub for storage and analysis.

The system can automatically control the capacity of a data pipeline depending on time of day and demand, and improve zero-touch automation with smart alerts and self-healing capabilities.

Leveraging Google Cloud’s data and analytics technologies such as BigQuery and Dataproc, the platform, called Neuron, enables Nucleus. Neuron is operational in multiple Vodafone markets.

Vodafone is the largest mobile and fixed network operator in Europe and a global IoT connectivity provider. Its M-Pesa platform in Africa enables over 45m people to benefit from access to mobile payments and financial services. It operates mobile and fixed networks in 21 countries and partners with mobile networks in 48 more. The operator has more than 300m mobile customers, more than 27m fixed broadband customers, over 22m TV customers, and connects more than 118m IoT devices.