Catching the 5G train with CI/CD Services
As networks become increasingly software-driven, especially 5G networks with cloud-native cores, communications service providers (CSPs) must embrace continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD). This will help them to improve reliability and efficiency, speed up service roll out and reduce risk to operational networks while managing the complexity of micro-services changes.
Why implementing CI/CD is complex for CSPs?
Embracing CI/CD requires a major cultural change for operators that have built their businesses around deploying and operating traditional networks using waterfall release cycles for software. Their internal organizations often reflect the multiple domains and functions of their current networks. They are complex and made up of silos. Pulling it all together into a single seamless operation is a challenge.
We talk to customers every day who have to address this complexity while making the decision to adopt CI/CD. To start with, there are all the legacy systems with different proprietary hardware and software configurations that have been operated by the same internal organization, sometimes for decades, with specific processes and practices. Then there is uniqueness in every network in terms of network design and configuration. In a multi-domain network, every CSP has a unique network setup that poses challenges for direct software deployment, from R&D to the operator’s environment.
We have been working for some time to get ready for this epochal moment in the evolution of networks. We began re-orienting our research emphasis at Nokia Bell Labs towards artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and advanced algorithms more than a decade ago. As NFV and SDN have made its steady way into the networks of our 500+ customers worldwide, Nokia Services have been partnering with them to embrace digital, become more agile and transform their operations. We have a long and intimate involvement with operator network environments and understand both the challenges and the opportunities.
So, with 5G no longer ‘on the horizon’ but being rolled out, we are ready with a suite of CI/CD services, which we strongly believe can help CSPs to execute digital transformation faster and benefit from the development of 5G. Nokia brings its pre-integrated CI/CD framework to operators’ unique multi-domain networks and integrates it with their engineering functions in order to realize the latest features in a fast, secure and reliable way.
How we made CI/CD practical for CSPs
Our approach to DevOps is to address the operator’s unique environment and associated challenges with an initiative that we call DelOps. The similarity to DevOps isn’t coincidental. DelOps is DevOps reimagined to deal with the complexity of the operator’s environment. It focuses on what makes CI/CD different for CSPs, which is at the delivery and operational stages — thus ‘DelOps’.
We partner with customers to establish a CI/CD framework that works with their specific operational environment. Some Nokia customers will use our CI/CD framework directly as a blueprint, others will already have parts of a framework established; in which case we integrate our DelOps CI/CD framework with theirs or any third-party frameworks.
Figure 1: Maximizing flexibility with DelOps CI/CD models
The point is, our solution is flexible. We can integrate with any cloud environment, public, private or hybrid, whether realized on virtual machines, containers or bare metal. Once in place, our CI/CD framework completely automates the many processes required for each specific environment in the customer’s network. Using our Agile Integration Methodology (AIM), we partner with the CSP to ensure the highest reliability of continuous integration and continuous delivery holistically across their operations.
What does Nokia DelOps enable for CSPs?
This level of seamless automation in delivery and operations is exactly what operators will need to make 5G fly. The benefits are similar to DevOps, but are made real for the complex CSP environment:
- Reduced cycle times for faster deployment of new features and services
- Less effort to carry out acceptance testing, tracking and managing release features
- The ability to innovate and fix issues faster, sometimes before subscribers are even aware
- Managing the complexity of micro-services upgrades with comprehensive automation.
We understand very well, the challenges both technologically and organizationally that this transformation to a software-driven paradigm involves. And with the 5G train leaving the station, Nokia CI/CD Services will ensure that you are in for a smooth journey.