IndustryInsights

Roadmap to the Cloud Native Telco

Telcos can call upon a vast array of industry expertise and innovations to plan their Cloud Native Roadmap.

Like every enterprise sector telecommunications is seeking to harness the evolution of IT pioneered by Netflix, building hyper-scale systems using containers and a microservices architecture.

Netflix ushered in a new era of web scale IT, a technology architecture that naturally leverages the global, elastic capacity of the Cloud and enables a high velocity rate of digital service innovation.

The enterprise sector has been quick to understand how this approach can be applied to their existing IT estate and a vendor ecosystem has organized around fulfilling that potential. Smart CSPs will be next to build upon that learning further and leverage that momentum to replicate it to achieve the same for Telco services.

For CSPs this has a number of dimensions.

In his TechNative blog Liron Golan of Nokia provides an overview of this scenario and for VMware describes the journey to get there.

The great potential for telcos is that industry experts commonly agree on what this journey involves, notably the ‘Cloudification’ of telco networks through:

  • Virtualizing network functions. Since the advent of the Cloud era telcos have been undertaking to virtualize networking functions (NFVs) previously executed via dedicated hardware solutions. ‘CNFs’ represent the next iteration of this evolution – Cloud Native Network Functions.
  • Utilize Kubernetes for containers. Telcos are prioritizing Kubernetes for containerizing and managing these network functions, tailoring it for their industry and adopting it for key use cases such as an Edge platform.
  • Employing a microservices architecture. The next step in this evolution is to decompose monolithic applications into modular microservice components. Telecom Review describes how Nexign has enabled Megafon to build a ‘microservices factory‘ that underpins their strategy to act as a digital ecosystem platform.
  • Directly using Cloud providers. SDX writes how Telefónica Germany and Verizon for deploying 5G to the Cloud, using their services like Outposts and Wavelength.

Max Kamenetsky of Google describes Five Do’s and Don’ts for embarking on this journey, including ensuring that the process simplifies the complex network estate, modernizes legacy operations and avoids duplication of infrastructure for virtualized and containerized workloads. Google offers a video series on the Cloudification of telecomms networks.

Vendor Innovations

This evolution is being accelerated through a rich ecosystem of supporting vendor innovations, occuring across the full estate of telco network infrastructure and also the business systems they manage it with.

For example Amdocs are applying the microservices architecture to the OSS/BSS layer, creating Microservices360 (MS360), an end-to-end carrier-grade accelerated microservices development platform for its own new generation of products, with a full SDK for cloud-native code development and deployment, that leverages the Red Hat OpenShift container platform deployable solution architecture to optimally run on carrier-grade Intel computing and storage technology.

The network itself is the critical challenge, given the performance and reliability required of telco levels of traffic.

Kubernetes at the Edge is proving to be a key use case, and there is a particular synergy with 5G network deployments – ‘5G is going Cloud Native‘. F5 announced BIG-IP Service Proxy for Kubernetes (SPK) and Carrier-Grade Aspen Mesh, two infrastructure solutions aimed at supporting the deployment and operation of cloud-native 5G standalone core networks.

Core network services are being offered as containerized, microservices-based solutions, such as Ericsson offering a Cloud Native IMS. NEC teamed up with Redhat to offer ‘multicloud’ capable 5G solutions, and VMware launched their 5G Telco Cloud Platform, which includes Tanzu Kubernetes Grid – an embedded Kubernetes distribution, enabling CSPs to build, manage and run containerized workloads across private, telco, edge and public clouds.

Roadmap

The purpose of our Roadmap is to provide a single framework for synthesizing these innovations into a vendor neutral blueprint, for Telcos to plan their Cloud Native journey, aggregating expert insights from across the entire industry.

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