Nokia and VMware advance the state of cloud-native 5G
In October, Nokia became the first network equipment provider to certify all 5G core network functions on VMware’s VMware Ready for Telco Cloud Certification Program. “So what?” I hear you ask!
Several years ago, the telecom industry realized that it was important to adopt cloud techniques to achieve the agility and efficiency becoming commonplace in the enterprise world, especially with web scale businesses. But this turned out to be more difficult than expected.
First, the industry tried implementing existing network element software into monolithic virtual machines. All that accomplished was to reduce performance with no real agility gain, since the development processes were essentially identical. The industry moved on to creating Virtual Network Functions (VNFs), and then standardized ETSI NFV MANO, a way of organizing the VNFs. This achieves many cloud related benefits, most notably the ability to create telecom networks using general purpose hardware – breaking the strong hardware/software tie of traditional network ‘box’ products. This approach is widely deployed today, especially among the larger operators.
The next evolution of telecom software on cloud has been trending toward cloud-native network functions (CNFs), with the intent to further adopt successful approaches pioneered by the IT industry. Web scale companies have used this to great success – achieving deft agility, intrinsic automation, and elastic scalability that could also benefit the telecom industry.
Cloud-native systems feature containers, dataless and stateless microservices, service meshes, abstraction of the infrastructure, and APIs. They are designed to support automation and are easy to update and manage. They can be deployed on any standardized cloud infrastructure, whether private, public or hybrid.
It’s important to note that the success web scale companies have had with cloud-native design is not restricted to just the software architecture. The IT industry also created new methodologies for software engineering – the most successful being the Agile methodology. A tight iteration between software design and operations resulted in DevOps. Telecom manufacturers have adopted many of these practices, recognizing their value. Nokia has even gone further and created a form of DevOps designed to address the unique environment of communication service providers – we call this DelOps.
Today, there is fairly wide acceptance in the telco industry that in order to gain the same business benefits that web scale companies have achieved with cloud, it’s necessary to fully adopt the cloud-native approach – both in terms of software architecture as well as development, deployment and operations practices.
VMware’s Telco Cloud Platform is an example of a cloud-native infrastructure designed to support telecom application CNFs. Further, VMware created the Ready for Telco Cloud Certification program, which provides interoperability validation with public certifications in a vendor-agnostic fashion.
And Nokia is the first network equipment provider to certify all 5G core network functions on the VMware Telco Cloud Platform (TCP).
For those communications service providers that use VMware’s TCP platform, there is now a fully certified 5G Core from Nokia that can be deployed to start generating revenue from new 5G services. CSPs can build services in hours instead of weeks and can take advantage of independent software vendors who are also certified on VMware’s TCP platform in combination with Nokia products.
Further, certification in the VMware Ready for Telco Cloud Certification program demonstrates the readiness of the Nokia 5G Core cloud-native network functions for any Kubernetes based Cloud Infrastructure in the market.
Jitin Bhandari, Nokia’s Chief Technology Officer for Cloud and Network Services noted that “Nokia is committed to offering 5G solutions across any cloud, and any infrastructure. This certification by VMware is another important milestone in achieving that vision and demonstrates that Nokia has the strongest commitment to developing truly cloud-native 5G solutions.” Jitin will discuss this partnership with VMware’s Lakshmi Mandayam in their TelecomTV Telco Innovation Summit.
So what’s the important news?
These partnerships are forming throughout the industry, and they mean that the goal of maximizing the benefits of cloud are well within the reach of CSPs today. It’s a major and well-established industry shift, occurring right now – as much a change as moving to IMS was in the 2000’s. It will take some years to fully realize the vision. But for those CSPs who are ready to make the change, the solutions are available and ready for deployment – and this announcement is proof of that.
Be sure to check out VMware’s blog on this as well!