Why you should be taking note of cloud native NFVI
Cloud native for telco means a lot of benefits in network agility and operational efficiency. Yet the solutions and market readiness have not yet been in place. The solutions for cloud native applications design are in place but now we also see the solutions for NFVI emerging based on Kubernetes. The NFVI needs to cater for both VMs and Containers and have a simple integration to the MANO also in the case of a bare metal deployment. Watch the new Ericsson webinar that explains the cloud native solutions in more detail.
Why do we need cloud native in the telco cloud?
There’s been much discussion about cloud native in telecoms over the last 3 years. Vendors have been competing about cloud-native messaging and Communication Service Providers (CSPs) have requested cloud-native implementations from vendors as part of their procurement processes. At the same time, there’s a high level of uncertainty regarding definitions and implementation details beyond the high-level buzz words such as micro services, containers and stateless design.
It’s well known that high profile web players like Google, Facebook and Netflix have managed to successfully use these technologies to gain large-scale efficiency and agility benefits. This will apply also for telco, and we’ll start to see many benefits in operational efficiencies as cloud-native applications start running on the Network Function Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVI).
The remaining challenges
As opposed to the web scale players, telecom vendors deliver network applications to not just one CSP, but many different CSPs who often bring different requirements. The CSPs then operate those applications and provide services to their end users. Because of these extra steps, the development in telecoms has been slower, in addition to the inherent complexity and large legacy infrastructure that networks have. Few have launched large production networks and it’s often with few Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) on OpenStack on appliance (node) based platforms. Many CSPs have not yet managed to get a current VM-based telco cloud NFVI platform into operation and it’s fair to acknowledge that it has been difficult to integrate a lot of new open-source technologies. Part of the problem has been the lack of real cloud-native applications to get rid of some hardware dependencies, but also Software Defined Networking (SDN) integration and life-cycle management of the Virtual Infrastructure Manager (VIM) bring challenges.
Cloud-native applications and design principles
Cloud-native applications and infrastructure should not be seen as another level of complexity on top of a cloud transformation that still is not fully up and running; rather, it should be seen as the natural evolution of the cloud transformation that is in progress in the telecom industry today. The evolution to cloud-native applications and infrastructure is required to fully capture the promise of the cloud and NFV. For a few years the design of cloud native VNFs (or CNFs) has matured, based on new design principles and new design methodologies.
The five principles used at Ericsson are:
- Agnosticism of the underlaying NFVI
- Software decomposition and life-cycle management of micro services
- Application resiliency
- State-optimized design
- Orchestration and automation
The cloud native NFVI
Currently the NFVI has been based on the ETSI NFV blueprint with OpenStack as the dominating VIM (IaaS, Infrastructure aaS). With 5G, new functionality in the core is needed with 5G Evolved Packet Core (EPC) and 5GC (the ETSI standardized 5G core for 5G standalone). As 5GC is cloud native, we’d need a dual-mode NFVI with Kubernetes (K8s) as the orchestration engine for the containers. The 5G NFVI will also be distributed with smaller edge sites that are closer to the end users. This will be a stepwise journey, where first a CaaS (Container aaS) layer is introduced on top of OpenStack. This will make it possible to run K8s directly on bare metal. Finally, it will be possible to simplify the NFVI architecture by using the same CaaS layer for both VMs and containers. This layer will only need one standardized interface towards the Management And Network Orchestration (MANO) layer.
A new Ericsson webinar on how to implement cloud native in the telco cloud
We have recently produced a content rich webinar on the topics above. The on-demand webinar gives insights into the benefits of cloud native, as well the design principles and how to design cloud-native applications for the telco cloud. It explains the evolution of the NFVI architecture and the steps needed to introduce Kubernetes into the NFVI to cater for both VMs and containers, which will be essential for 5G.
The presentation is hosted by two of our leading experts in cloud-native architectures and design:
Jonas Falkenå , Senior expert application implementation architecture Cloud native
Tamas Zsiros, Expert End-to-end systems architecture
Listen to their insights in this 40 minute webinar.
Read more on Cloud native