Cloud networking for the next generation of telco clouds
Over the last several years we have witnessed significant changes in the way applications have been realized in telco clouds. We have witnessed private data centers running bare metal servers move to virtualized environments running virtual machines (VMs). More recently we are witnessing a move to cloud-native architectures as telcos roll out their 5G infrastructures to support the next generation of consumer and enterprise services.
Within this recent change, operators have an opportunity to elevate themselves from commodity “best effort” bandwidth providers to advanced “connectivity” providers, catapulting them into the value chain of these services, creating net new revenue, and increasing the return on their 5G investment.
However, to meet these lofty aspirations, telecom operators need to build a 5G-ready transformed network fabric in the right manner — one that bridges the gap between the dynamicity of these cloud-native applications and their current network infrastructure.
What are the challenges operators face with their current network design, if they are to rise to this new opportunity? There are a few.
Modern network challenges
Often networks are rigid and have limited visibility. Networks need to be built to be open, extensible and consumable, allowing operators to have full access and control of network data, while also being able to customize the network and its tooling as needed to meet their individual business needs.
Networks need to be horizontally integrated across the ecosystem in which they operate. This allows operators to thrive in any environment while allowing them to leverage insights from any system with ease. This is of particular importance between the applications, their workloads and the network that serves them.
Cloud-native applications can be thought of as disaggregated versions of the appliances they once were. Breaking up applications into independently scalable components (microservices) allows for business agility and flexibility but only if the operational environment is set up to facilitate them. Just using cloud technologies does not ensure cloud benefits. From a networking perspective, telecom operators need to embrace a NetOps (DevOps applied to networking) network operational model if the network is going to thrive in this era.
Time for a solution
For the on-demand cloud model to thrive, networks need to become a reliable, consumable resource, not unlike compute and storage. A model-driven network operating system (NOS) is needed that leverages an open Linux-based foundation to provide openness and extensibility. The NOS must also make it easy for northbound systems to access network data directly or through streaming telemetry. This is vital to making networks highly consumable.
Networks need to be at one with the applications they serve. They should be agile, scalable, on-demand, and tunable to the precise requirements of the cloud application or workload, which means that knowledge of the application is crucial. As such, cloud-native networks and automation platforms should provide integration into the major cloud management systems. This allows the network to move “up the stack” so it is in lockstep with the application layer, providing enough agility to meet the needs of the cloud applications it serves. Over time, we see a high degree of integration between the network and the cloud with the two becoming a distributed fabric of storage, processing and network functions that is highly fluid and adaptable to the requirements of digital applications.
Taming network complexity is essential as cloud-based applications and services, which are dynamic by nature, make it much more difficult to predict what connectivity and SLAs will be needed. In addition, the workloads associated with these emerging applications require more responsive networks than existing operational methods provide. Operational productivity needs to increase.
To tackle this requirement, an automation and operations platform is needed that offers easy-to-use and built-in NetOps-based automation tools. These tools provide a more abstract means of operating the network. They simplify the consumption of large sets of telemetry data and enable a more proactive, accurate and scalable approach to network operations.
Understanding this big picture, we have been integrating many of the technologies and tools that operators will need to seize this opportunity. We call it Adaptive Cloud Networking, a solution that equips telecom operators with the tools to thrive in a world gone cloud native.
The end-to-end scope of Adaptive Cloud Networking
Nokia Adaptive Cloud Networking focuses on providing these capabilities across three aspects of the telecom network. The first of these is the traditional large data center fabric. The second are the rapidly emerging edge clouds of the network. The third aspect is seamless interconnectivity, providing the ability to automate the connectivity of application traffic between different data center or cloud edge locations across the wide area network while maintaining SLAs.
The way forward
The Nokia solution is designed to tame the growth in network complexity that the cloud brings, while unleashing the scale, performance and operational efficiencies needed to prosper in this next stage of the fast-evolving cloud-native market.
Nokia’s Adaptive Cloud Networking gives you the advanced tools and capabilities you need to transform your cloud network infrastructure to respond to these unpredictable demands.
For more information about our solution, watch Nokia's Daniel Derksen, Director of Regional PLM EMEA interview with Six Five, check out this eBook and visit Nokia Adaptive Cloud Networking.