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 makes it possible for various applications, for example telco, operations supports systems, business support systems and IoT, to share infrastructure resources for their needs. The infrastructure resources consist of compute, network and storage. The cloud infrastructure capacity is dynamically allocated to meet applications’ needs.
Cloud infrastructure reduces time to market for new services and makes it easier to manage services 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 management of the cloud infrastructure will also play a critical role in enabling new advanced services and increase operational efficiency.
How does Cloud Infrastructure work?
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
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 example due to shorter latency and higher bandwidth in the network.
Cloud native technology and edge computing are corner stones for the cloud infrastructure in 5G. 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 augmented and virtual reality, smart manufacturing and online-gaming.
When cloud infrastructure is distributed closer to where data traffic is used and consumed, it has to be more compact, autonomous and efficient since the equipment often has to be installed in remote and demanding physical locations with regards to available space, high (or low) temperature, vibration, dust and humidity.
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.
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 190 cloud infrastructure customers across the world including leading service providers such as Swisscom, Telefónica, Wind Tre, Telstra, DOCOMO, Telkomsel and XL Axiata. We believe that our 140+ live deployments of cloud infrastructure solutions prove our capabilities in this area.