IBM ramped its ambitions in the telecom market, targeting operators with a new hybrid cloud platform and adding Nokia to a growing list of application partners.

The company’s Cloud for Telecommunications is built on subsidiary Red Hat’s open Kubernetes architecture, and incorporates several previously announced offerings including IBM’s Telco Network Cloud Manager, Edge Application Manager and distributed Cloud Satellite service.

Marisa Viveros, IBM’s VP of strategy and offerings for Telecom, Media and Entertainment, told Mobile World Live the launch comes in response to operator demand for more choice in the market. While rivals including Microsoft, Google and Amazon rolled out their own telecom-oriented cloud platforms earlier this year, she said operators “definitely want another provider” and “specifically called on us”.

She highlighted IBM’s cloud partner ecosystem as a key point of differentiation, noting it now comprises more than 35 partners offering a range of applications addressing mobile core, edge and access functions; OSS and BSS systems; compute; and security. Participants include Nokia, Samsung, Cisco, Mavenir, Juniper Networks, Altiostar, Dell Technologies, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Lenovo, among others.

“No company can provide everything on its own, so these partnerships are really valuable to us and can allow us to scale our business much faster.”

Its play in the telecom market comes as IBM homes in on the cloud for future growth: in September, the company announced plans to spin off its managed infrastructure division to better focus on hybrid cloud and AI.

In Q3, IBM’s cloud revenue grew 19 per cent to $6 billion, accounting for nearly a third of overall revenue totalling $17.6 billion.