Microsoft played its hand following a recent run of acquisitions, challenging Google and Amazon Web Services (AWS) with the launch of a cloud platform pitched as a means to boost operators’ 5G deployments.

In a blog, the company said Azure for Operators employs assets purchased from Metaswitch and Affirmed Networks earlier this year to provide capabilities spanning network interconnect, edge computing, network function virtualisation, cloud services and IoT.

Jason Zander, EVP of Microsoft Azure, wrote the platform marked a “new chapter” in the company’s work with the telecoms industry, offering the ability to “future-proof” networks, cut costs and “create new services and business models”.

Future technologies targeted include network slicing and service-based architectures, he added.

Microsoft previously inked cloud collaboration deals with operators including AT&T, Telstra and Etisalat.

The company faces stiff competition in the operator cloud market: several major players already partnered with AWS to advance 5G edge computing, and Google unveiled its own telecom cloud platform in March.