TMN is rounding up the news prior to MWC. Today, we look at “cloud native” and the 5G deluge. You can see yesterday’s installment – looking at network analytics & automation and at clever radio things – here.
THINGS OPENING UP IN THE CLOUD
The trajectory over past years has been from the virtualisation of software in discreet instances to enabling cloud-based operations. Expect cloud native and open source to be the inspirational words you see on top of booths (just below the logos). The open RAN, identified yesterday, is a really minor but growing subset (for now). We will also see some 5G core or ngCore noise, and a bit about the edge (of which more tomorrow).
1. Commercial VNF in ONAP
Orange Labs Networks has integrated Radisys’ commercial-grade Media Resource VNF in the ONAP Amsterdam release. This is the first commercial VNF in ONAP (Open Network Automation Platform).
The integration of Radisys’ market leading MediaEngine virtualized Media Resource Function (vMRF) is the first integration of a complete commercial-grade Media Resource Virtual Network Function (VNF). Radisys says it paves the way for additional VNF integrations with ONAP, accelerating commercial deployments.
2 OpenSwitch and OpenDaylight on whitebox switches
Inocybe has said it will demonstrating a fully integrated OpenSwitch-based NOS and OpenDaylight-based SDN Controller that is ready to run on Kontron’s SYMKLOUD whitebox switches. The platform allows for assembly of components on three levels: Applications, Controllers, and NOS, and is intended to simplify the consumption and management of open networking projects – for example for whitebox network management.
3. Affirmed Networks with the cloud native 5G core
Affirmed Networks said it has the industry’s first “cloud native” 5G core. The software is currently in trials with tier one operators in North America and the Middle East, according to Affirmed. The core deployment, which Affirmed describes as having a cloud native microservices architecture, offers Control User Plane Separation, integrated virtual probes, plus support for “fine grained network slicing” with the Affirmed Virtual Slice Selection Function (vSSF).
4. Core network in the public cloud
There’s also news from Core Network Dynamics that its OpenEPC 8 – the new version of its multi-access core network software – is cloud-native, enabling the deployment of mobile core networks on the likes of Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS.
CND believes that adopting a public cloud model will soon become a vital strategy for carriers and the telco sector in order to boost speed, flexibility, scalability and margins. CND’s HSS already followed stateless design principles and OpenEPC 8 will see the entire core network signalling architecture become fully stateless. This has resulted from CND’s work on a research project for a tier-one service provider, which demonstrated the implementation of a split between the Control and User Plane, enabling the user plane to be managed by an SDN controller. The advantage is a decomposed, more flexible, 5G-aligned network architecture where the User and Control Plane can be upgraded independently from each other.
5. Mavenir adding vRAN and IOT to Dell-based NFV line
Mavenir also went for the cloud native tag with a release about a collaboration with Dell EMC OEM Solutions. These two are using Dell hardware to deliver a range of solutions, adding 5G Cloud RAN and IOT capabilities to Mavenir’s “cloud-native Open Stack NFV and container CloudRange platform”. Mavenir has also certified VMWare NFV 2.0.
What do we make of these above announcements? The best take right now is that alternative vendors are more than sniffing an opportunity here. Where the end-to-end presence of the major vendors do not fit, these competitors need to be there with whitebox, open, commercialised solutions that can actually meet service providers’ operational environments. That extends to performance, assurance and deployment flexibility.
This even extends to the RAN, where this latest announcement from Radisys (Radisys Enables Industry’s First Virtualised RAN Accelerator Solution) addresses the ability of COTS hardware to deal with vRAN processing.
“KT, Qualcomm and Samsung Achieve Multi-vendor 5G NR Interoperability on Path to Mobile 5G NR Trials in 2018”. Another 5G interoperability test results release.
“DT, Intel and Huawei in German labs”. And another one.
“Verizon, Nokia and Qualcomm complete first call using 3GPP-compliant 5G New Radio technology”. And another one
“Vodafone and Huawei Complete World’s First 5G call and Dual Connectivity using 3GPP R15 NSA Standard”. Yet another.
All of these are just from this week.
What I want to say about this is: let’s have some sense from the vendors and operators on press releasing every last incremental trial and test. It’s good to keep us updated, but if you blare out every new test then it will obscure the genuinely important or revelatory. For example, the Huawei/Intel/DT release is literally about the companies carrying out the same test as previously, just in a DT lab in Europe instead of a Huawei one in China. Yes, they already press released the China one. So this is justified as being the “first trial in an operator lab” etc etc. The push for a “first” will lead us down increasingly esoteric routes – the first bit of this or that commercial spectrum, the first deployment of 5G on a Thursday in April and so on.
However, you can see the results of this sort of “fire ‘em out” approach in this infographic from Viavi. Ericsson is listed as having by far the most trials and the company picked up some welcome positive coverage for this. Yet many of these are the result of Ericsson touring its mobile prototypes round operator labs and having operators verify their performance. Now that’s fine but it’s often, in essence, the same lab trial going on the road. Each trial doesn’t take things forward. Geographically, in the Viavi infographic, there’s also a skew to Europe, but that’s merely because Europe has the most operators and each one of them is obviously assessing 5G in some way. Does that mean Europe is necessarily “leading” in 5G? No.
So, at MWC, emboldened by the 5G NR specs in December, and those upcoming later this year, we are clearly going to see a lot of “5G firsts”. The job of the analysts and journalists will be to ask and report on what that means, specifically.