Cloud Native is a ‘must do’ for Telcos

As the TM Forum blog describes ‘Cloud Native is a must do for Telcos’.

Marcus Brunner, Swisscom’s Head of Standardization, Open Source and Ecosystem Development, believes cloud native is a “must-do” for communications service providers (CSPs).

He defines the implementation of Cloud Native within the telecomms sector being used most often to describe network functions that have been developed from the outset as software to run on servers hosted in a public or private cloud environment.

From training wheels to the real deal

Experts like Brunner and Peter Wörndle of Ericsson believe Cloud Native builds upon and represents an evolution of the industry’s existing work to virtualize network functions, that where “NFV was training wheels, Cloud Native is the real deal.”

“Virtualization and VNFs helped us in getting started in moving toward cloud-native applications,” the company states, adding that the problem with VNFs is that upgrades are slow and scaling difficult because the applications are typically ported into cloud environments using a “lift-and-shift” approach. Cloud-native applications address these limitations using a microservices architecture that supports dynamic elasticity and scalability.”

Building Cloud Native networks

This certainly resonates with industry developments.

ETSI’s Open Source MANO group, which focuses on the management and orchestration of virtualised networks, has delivered its latest release, bringing cloud-native applications to network function virtualisation (NFV) deployments.

Their OSM Release SEVEN enables Open Source MANO (OSM) to on-board over 20,000 pre-existing production-ready Kubernetes applications, with no need for any translation or repackaging.

Ericsson have engineered their products, such as 5G core networking, to be Cloud Native. Similarly NEC are working with AWS to offer the same capability, and Nokia too are offering AWS-based implementation.

Rakuten will soon become the first new mobile network operator (MNO) to launch in Japan in over a decade, and CTO Tareq Amin plans to build an entirely end-to-end Cloud Native network.

Vendors like Aviatrix are positioning specifically for this trend. Acquired by Infoblox in Nov 2019, SnapRoute is delivering the industry’s first Cloud Native Network Operating System (CN-NOS).

SnapRoute’s unique containerized microservices architecture and embrace of DevOps principles, empowers companies to accelerate application time to service, enhance security and compliance, and improve run-time operations to drive business velocity and growth.

Learning from Cloud Native providers

Senior industry executives also believe embracing the trend goes beyond just the technology.

In another TMF blog this point is made by Lester Thomas, Vodafone’s Chief IT Systems Architect, advocates that the Forum move to a model of collaboration and development that mirrors that used by cloud-native companies like Amazon and Netflix.

He and Laurent Leboucher, VP of Customer Relation Solutions and Leader of Global Architecture at Orange, are spearheading work within the Forum’s Open Digital Architecture (ODA) project to turn support architecture components into software by developing a code-based reference implementation that members can download for experimentation.

“The global telecom industry will change dramatically in the 2020s thanks to AI-driven operations, cloud-native IT, autonomous networks, IoT, and enterprise-level B2B digital ecosystems and partnerships,” said Nik Willetts, CEO, TM Forum.

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