In-Service Software Upgrade: A relief planning for 5G
Everyone is familiar with upgrading an app. For bigger upgrades, you might schedule the installation, but often it’s just a one-click, ‘install now’ process. Imagine if you could do the same with a network function, which handles the entire mobile broadband traffic for a large city. Or even better, imagine if you could ensure that service and network KPIs are verified throughout the upgrading process. This is where the In-Service Software Upgrade (ISSU) comes into play. It’s a capability we see as one of the main operational cost reduction functionalities, and subsequently, a relief for a communication service provider (CSP) planning for 5G.
Are you familiar with ISSU and Canary Testing? These were a couple of the hot topics at our booth at Mobile World Congress (MWC) Americas in Los Angeles in October 2019, when we demonstrated the dual-mode 5G Cloud Core and its ISSU capabilities.
But why is important? With introduction of 5G, CSPs will face the repeated challenge of managing their existing services while introducing new technologies to capture new business opportunities. To be able to make this evolution successful, focusing on reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) is a pre-requisite in addressing new business opportunities in a profitable way.
How can we address the TCO challenges?
With our 5G Core, a dual-mode 5G Cloud Core, we provide a solution that enables CSPs to evolve their current core network and introduce 5G in a smooth and flexible way, supporting both EPC and 5G Core 3GPP architectures. The solution is built on cloud-native technology using microservices in containers, and enables CSPs to significantly reduce operational costs and improve service agility.
Let’s delve into two main benefits of the solution:
- The deployment and migration flexibility that the dual-mode 5G Cloud Core solution brings, - implemented in a truly cloud natively way and using containers with Kubernetes orchestration – reduces the dependency that CSPs have on the two 3GPP core architectures. In addition, both EPC and 5G Core network functions use the same cloud resources seamlessly, which reduces their cloud infrastructure footprint and the need for separate dimensioning. From a timing perspective, CSPs would have support from both architectures, and would be able to activate them as needed.
- In-Service Software Upgrade (ISSU) capability: This is of one of the main operational cost reduction features, enablers for reducing service agility and ‘time to value’ factors for service providers. Today, upgrading a core network is often coupled with high operational costs and long lead times.
What was the ISSU live demo about?
At MWC Americas, we demonstrated a live software upgrade of a dual-mode 5G Cloud Core system that we ran remotely from our labs in Dallas, Texas. A key benefit of cloud-native technology is that you can have an implementation architecture built on smaller building blocks – microservices – that can each be managed in a lifecycle process separately, without disturbing the end user service. In this demo we upgraded some of these building blocks of the 5G Core AMF network function in the Packet Core Controller product. This was done using Canary Testing techniques whereby you only upgrade and test a small part of the system before upgrading the full system, which ensures that service and network KPIs are verified throughout the upgrade process. This upgrade can be done quickly, and at any time, without affecting end user services.
Feedback and learnings from MWC Americas
- “Ericsson is really going fully into the new cloud-native technology in order to increase value. Not everyone is doing it the right way. I would really like to leverage the benefits of cloud-native technology in my network as soon as possible”, (Tier one CSP)
- There was very positive feedback and discussions on the flexibility of our solution in terms of its evolution. With a dual-mode solution, you can either benefit from cloud-native operational ways of working, first with EPC or introduce 5GC as a first step when migrating into a containerized solution.
- It was also clear from discussions that the flexibility of the solution reduces risk when it comes to the timing of introducing 5G Core. This can be done by simply enabling 5G Core network functions as part of the already installed dual-mode 5G Cloud Core software.
- “How can I re-use my existing infrastructure investments?”
There were discussions on the openness of the solution, which allows the capabilities to interwork with existing service providers’ core investments, both from Ericsson and other vendors.
- The live ISSU demo was appreciated, and it emphasized our readiness as well as showing that the process can be much less cumbersome and less costly compared to today’s way of working. The Canary testing model demonstrated the TCO benefits, as well as reducing time to market and eliminating the maintenance window dependency while not impacting the end users during the microservice level SW upgrades.
Learn more about the dual-mode 5G Cloud Core and the cloud-native ISSU live demonstration:
At the MWC Americas, Ericsson not only provided a vision of how 5GC networks should be deployed, but also demonstrated 5G Core capabilities on a live containerized 5GC system. A smooth migration to 5G, whilst reducing TCO, in order to address new business opportunities, was clearly on top of CSPs mind. Discover the cost reduction opportunities of Ericsson dual-mode 5G Cloud Core:Download paper