Last month I returned back from my 7th Mobile World Congress just as excited as I was at my first MWC, when I presented our Nokia vision for cloud computing to the telecom world for the first time.
Wow, how that cloud has evolved during these seven years. We’ve witnessed how the first adopters began their migration to cloud with smaller applications like vCPE, followed by EPC, IMS and TAS to registers and radio access technology now residing in the cloud.
In the last two years, 5G has become the omnipresent technology in telecoms. Operators are transforming their networks to become digital service providers able to cope with the massive scalability and latency requirements of 5G. In the scope of this process, it is essential for operators to also transform their core networks.
The combination of 5G and cloud is a must. For more background, you may want to have a look at my last blog, where I expand on the 6 key principles of cloud-native core networks and the DevOps*model of continuous delivery and integration.
At MWC this year, we were showcased two demos at my booth: one on Shared Data Layer and stateless VNFs (two of the key principles of the Nokia AirGile cloud-native core) and one on DevOps. While I was happy that both demos received excellent visitor feedback the DevOps demo was my favorite. Why? Because, it was truly innovative. We explained our DevOps methodology and showed how Nokia applies it to unify and optimize software development and operations. We demonstrated live how, after deploying a new NokiaTAS software in an operator network, a DevOps automation manager automatically tests the software. As part of the demo, the test case first fails. The DevOps automation manager tool then locates the error, creates a ticket and sends it to a Nokia R&D team, who correct the code, update it on the operator’s network and conduct another test. And all of this happens automatically! The update itself doesn’t take more than 3 minutes. Instead of updating the entire network element, only a container inside a microservice of the Nokia TAS is updated.
I want to share the feedback from analysts and operators, because it was perhaps as powerful a proof point to them as it was to us that DevOps is the way forward: “This is amazing. I haven't seen anything like this before. It’s the first time we see DevOps capabilities at this level!”
Another proof point lies in the field: built on a full microservices architecture, the Nokia TAS software that we feature in the DevOps demo is already running live in various operator networks.
So, what does it take to deploy a true DevOps mode of operations? Basically, you need three elements in place:
- Microservice-based VNFs with the right architecture that can be updated in small pieces without affecting other parts of the system
- A DevOps tool-chain, with a channel from the development to the operations, on which the software can be delivered and verified automatically, with automated symptom collection and feedback creation.
- Agile organizations built up from self-sustaining teams, meaning the team is capable of developing an end-to-end feature or fixing a problem entirely by themselves.
Operators welcome the automation and operational efficiency provided by DevOps. My guess is that it won’t take much longer before we see DevOps methodology populating mobile networks everywhere.
Are you ready for DevOps? Nokia certainly is.
Take the next step by downloading our DevOps ebook.
* DevOps is a business mindset that goes along with virtualization by combining software development best practices with network operations
Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #DevOps #Cloud #virtualization