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Cloud Infrastructure for 5G

How can service providers best build an open telco cloud infrastructure for 5G to introduce services quickly with low risk? And how can infrastructure be evolved to support cloud native applications and edge computing for new business opportunities?

Cloud infrastructure architecture makes it possible for various applications, for example telecom, operations supports systems, business support systems and IoT, to share infrastructure resources for their needs. The infrastructure resources consist of compute, network and storage and the capacity is dynamically allocated to meet applications’ needs.

Using a cloud infrastructure architecture reduces time to market for new services and makes it easier to manage them with shorter lifespan. It will, for instance, allow new services to be launched quickly to test the market demand, and if the services don’t fly, they can be phased out just as easily. Common and centralized management of the cloud infrastructure will also play a critical role in enabling new advanced services and increase operational efficiency.

The cloud infrastructure architecture is delivered to the users in various “as a service” models, for example Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Containers as a Service (CaaS). Infrastructure as a Service has been the most common way of using cloud infrastructure architecture to deploy applications, while Containers as a Services, optimized for cloud native applications will be more common going forward when 5G is becoming universal. Platform as a Service is focusing on developers and their needs for designing new applications efficiently.

A foundational concept in cloud infrastructure is virtualization, which decouples hardware (compute, network and storage resources) from the applications and creates a pool of the infrastructure resources which are shared by the applications. Virtualization software is used to achieve this resource pooling. In the telecom world, network functions virtualization, or NFV, is the process to transform the operator network into a virtualized or cloud-based infrastructure.

In the past, communication service providers (CSPs) have deployed systems where only one or a few applications use dedicated infrastructure resources. These systems (physical network functions) are still broadly used but being replaced over time with cloud-based solutions. The virtualization journey is now continuing with the introduction of cloud native technology. This development makes it possible to deploy cloud native applications on so called bare metal infrastructure using containers. Cloud native technology further simplifies operations and reduces lead times for new applications. It is expected that cloud native infrastructure will co-exist with NFV infrastructure for a long time.

Benefits of Cloud Infrastructure

Benefits of Cloud Infrastructure

Cloud infrastructure provides several benefits to communication service providers:

  • Costs for infrastructure resources will be lower since applications share the resources instead of using dedicated capacity.
  • Operations and management of one common infrastructure is more efficient than many individual application specific systems.
  • The time to deploy applications will be shorter since the cloud infrastructure including its hardware and software components is already in place.
  • Cloud infrastructure in combination with development tools and API (Application Programming Interface) exposure of network assets enables developers to innovate and bring new applications to end users quicker.

Cloud Infrastructure and 5G

With the introduction of 5G, the mobile network enables a vast number of new services for consumers and enterprises, since it provides much shorter latency, higher bandwidth and new capabilities such as network slicing – a logical network designed to serve a defined business purpose and comprises of all the required network resources, configured and connected end-to-end.

Cloud native technology and edge computing are corner stones for the cloud infrastructure in 5G. The best way to support cloud native applications is to use a Kubernetes over bare metal infrastructure where a simplified cloud infrastructure architecture delivers 18% TCO savings compared to virtualized infrastructure. The telecom industry is now moving on with this technology due to its efficiency, but it is important to note that virtual network functions (VNFs) will be around for years to come, and they will continue to run in parallel on network functions virtualization infrastructure (NFVI). Edge computing provides distributed cloud infrastructure resources closer to the location where it is needed and targets new business opportunities which provide support for specific use cases. Some examples of use case areas are smart manufacturing, remote drone control and augmented and virtual reality.

Looking ahead, we will also see the emergence of hybrid cloud, which is any combination of communications service provider (CSP) managed and hyperscale cloud provider (HCP) managed infrastructure environments for deployment of applications. Applied on telco workloads, the most obvious example is 5G Core. The hybrid cloud is geographically distributed to also support edge-based use cases. Hybrid cloud embraces multi-vendor options, as well as public and private deployment locations, and it includes central and edge sites. CSPs expect the hybrid cloud to be open for several HCPs in order to avoid lock-in, and it has to be possible to deploy applications in both private and public cloud infrastructure depending on technical requirements and cost optimization strategies.

Our cloud infrastructure transformation philosophy

Ultimately, everyone needs cloud infrastructure, and with 5G the need accelerates. To support service providers’ cloud infrastructure transformation, from physical network functions to a cloud native environment, we have built in experience and competence into our solution. The following key features are foundational in our philosophy:


Hardware and software components are pre-integrated and thoroughly tested. We take full e2e responsibility for the system.


The system is optimized for telco workloads securing high performance and throughput while minimizing the need for hardware and software licenses.

Cloud native

The solution supports cloud native applications in both a virtualized and bare metal infrastructure environment for fast 5G core deployment.


Hardware options from several vendors as well as open orchestration APIs are available. A partner VNF certification program secures openness towards a vast number of third-party applications. The solution is based on open source projects such as OpenStack and CNCF.

Solution life cycle management

We have verified procedures for solution release handling including expansions, upgrades and security updates, aligned with Ericsson’s application system verification roadmap. This means that the system verified value is carried forward release by release.

Common e2e management

Common e2e management - Central e2e monitoring system and lifecycle automation of both software and hardware layers resulting in efficient operations and low TCO is provided.

Ericsson and Cloud Infrastructure

Communication service providers need to increase service agility, operational efficiency and lower their costs by using cloud infrastructure while maintaining telecom grade quality of service, security and performance. Through our experience of working with cloud solutions, we have developed a philosophy for how cloud infrastructure should be designed and deployed. It addresses service providers’ challenges by delivering system verified cloud infrastructure solutions, which work out of the box. Ericsson has more than 260 cloud infrastructure customers across the world including leading service providers such as Swisscom, Telefónica, Wind Tre, Telstra, DOCOMO, Telkomsel, Far EasTone, XL Axiata and many others. We believe that our 190+ live deployments of cloud infrastructure solutions prove our capabilities in this area.


service of resource orchestration

Cloud native infrastructure based on bare metal is the future

Ericsson introduced a bare metal cloud infrastructure called Ericsson Cloud Native Infrastructure solution (CNIS) already in 2020. This solution is a natural result of the shift the industry is going through from virtualized network functions to cloud native applications.

Running applications on an infrastructure with fewer layers in the stack (without virtualization layer) leads to higher resource utilization and simplified operations.

Ericsson estimates that the TCO savings for deploying applications on a bare metal cloud compared to a virtualized infrastructure can be as high as 18 percent, depending on application and configuration.

Watch a short video about Ericsson Cloud Native Infrastructure, that is a system-verified bare metal CaaS infrastructure for cloud native applications.

Video | Ericsson Cloud Native Infrastructure | 2 min

Build a cloud-native infrastructure | Guide | 15 min.

A guide explaining how to evolve current NFVI or a new bare-metal cloud to deploy a cloud-native infrastructure for 5G Core and other cloud-native applications.

How Kubernetes over bare metal infrastructure improves TCO | Blog post

Find out how deploying cloud native applications using Kubernetes over a bare metal infrastructure is more cost efficient than using virtualized infrastructure.

SK Telecom - world first bare-metal cloud-native infrastructure | Case | 8 min

Get inspired how SK Telecom strengthened 5G network operation capabilities and flexibility, significantly improving traffic processing efficiency.

Ericsson NFVI

Ericsson NFVI has been commercially deployed for several years and is a high performing telco-grade cloud platform, which runs telecom, operations support systems, business support systems, media and many types of IT and IoT applications. Ericsson has deployed a vast number of live installations on all continents with CSPs and is enabling them to be frontrunners in the race towards 5G.

Our solution is now being evolved with edge deployment and cloud native application capabilities to make service providers ready for demanding consumer and enterprise use cases.

TPG Telecom | Cloud transformation with NFVI | Case

Explore how TPG Telecom has paved the way for a simplified and efficient network providing fast time to market for new offerings.

Telstra's journey to 5G Core | Case

Read how Telstra and Ericsson built a cloud-native core network for best 5G end-user experience in Australia.

Vodafone’s deployment of Europe’s first 5G SA core network | Case

A case study how Vodafone shaping Germany’s 5G future with 5G standalone and cloud-native 5G Core.

Hybrid Cloud managment


Enabling 5G Core on any infrastructure. Hybrid cloud management brings service provider- and hyperscale cloud infrastructure under one umbrella – delivering efficient and secure cloud operations with agility and flexibility.

Learn more

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