Amazon Web Services takes networking seriously at Re: Invent 2021

It’s December, the time of year for mistletoe, the holiday season, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) re: Invent. This year’s event didn’t disappoint, with its plethora of live and on-demand sessions covering virtually every tech topic under the sun. I have paid great attention to telecom and networking related announcements and would like to share what I found most compelling.

5G private as a service

Private cellular networks are poised to bring disruption and new agility to businesses in many use cases. I have written extensively on the subject and, if you are interested, you can find my latest take here. Today, AWS is entering the segment with AWS Private 5G, a turnkey solution designed to facilitate deployment. Although newly appointed chairman Adam Selipsky told re: Invent that Amazon is the first to market such an offering, I’m afraid I disagree — start-up Celona has been in the market for some time, leveraging Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s extensive channel network.

That said, I like AWS’s approach of offering starter kits and charging businesses for the debit versus SIM card / device. I think this will allow customers to launch the tires and develop a measured deployment. AWS’s approach is multi-vendor, compared to a Chinese menu of basic infrastructure and radio access offerings. The challenge will lie in successful integration, orchestration and automation. It is not clear to me that AWS has the integration fully prepared compared to Celona which offers a single vendor stack. However, I have no doubts that the company is devoting significant resources to making this a successful long-term offering.

WAN Cloud

The other big networking announcement to re: Invent was AWS Cloud WAN, which promises to benefit both businesses and communications service providers. AWS hopes to position its cloud backbone to facilitate network management at on-premises sites. To achieve this goal, AWS Cloud WAN will provide out-of-the-box traffic segmentation and isolation capabilities and integration with leading SD-WAN vendors.

An example of SD-WAN integration is with Cisco’s SD-WAN Cloud Hub. I see this as a premier partnership that will support site-to-cloud and site-to-site use cases. Ultimately, this should allow Cisco customers to maintain control while accessing AWS workloads, simplifying SD-WAN provisioning through a single console.

AWS is also partnering with Verizon and Telefonica at launch to deliver backbone network diversity, expand carrier reach, and enhance private label SD-WAN service offerings. From my perspective, Cloud WAN is a natural adjacency of service for AWS, and it could prove to be lucrative and disruptive given its dynamic nature compared to purpose-built global networks.


AWS is building a formidable presence in the networking space, as evidenced by the announcements of Private 5G and Cloud WAN at re: Invent 2021. The company is supporting both enterprises and operators with these offerings, which could lead to conflicts over time. However, the same could be said for Nokia as it continues its corporate push with Ericsson and its upcoming acquisition of Cradlepoint. Adding Celona to the mix creates a very diverse set of competitors, especially in the race for private 5G, and customers should benefit from the innovation and price competitiveness that comes with it.

Disclosure: My company, Moor Insights & Strategy, like all research and analysis companies, provides or has provided research, analysis, advice and / or advice to many high-tech companies in the industry, including Amazon Web Services, Celona, ​​Cisco, Ericsson, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Nokia, cited or linked in this article. I do not own any participation in the companies mentioned in this column.