Accelerate network agility with VMware Telco Cloud Automation™
Today we announced VMware Telco Cloud Automation general availability (GA)—VMware’s next-generation telco cloud orchestrator (previously announced under the name, Project Maestro). VMware Telco Cloud Automation transforms the CSP’s telco cloud experience and delivers tremendous value through unified lifecycle management automation, multi-cloud agility and improved MANO interoperability.
Many communications service providers (CSPs) have set their sights set on the cloud in hopes of achieving operational agility, lower costs, and network resiliency while also delivering an exceptional service experience to their customers. However, the cloud is evolving quickly, both in terms of technology and multi-cloud expansion; and this doesn’t necessarily align with the traditional CSP’s carrier-grade technology adoption pattern. It’s a big shift that serves up new challenges in terms of learnings, growing complexity, and interoperability – especially as you bridge physical and virtual ecosystems. In a nutshell, as the cloud and networks evolve with containers, 5G and MEC, the challenge to contain operational costs will become increasingly more difficult. We are today at a crucial moment– and CSPs that build a foundation that enables them to innovate quickly and control their operational costs will have a distinct advantage over their current competitors and OTT players.
The good news is that CSPs can bypass much of the complexity with VMware Telco Cloud Automation, a new orchestrator that accelerates time to market for network functions and services while igniting operational agility through simplified automation—across any network and any cloud.
VMware Telco Cloud Automation
Figure 1: VMware Telco Cloud Automation
An orchestration and automation platform for the telco cloud
VMware started this journey back in 2016, by assessing the market and listening to customer requests. Our findings were twofold. First, CSPs must implement orchestration and automation as soon as possible to improve efficiency and to ensure readiness for future cloud network innovations. Second, most of the MANO solutions on the market today are designed around telco vendors’ vantage points with traditional pros and cons (vendor lock-in, heavy integration costs, etc.). These all share a fundamental flaw: none have fully taken advantage of the cloud’s capabilities over time, nor have they tapped into possibilities associated with the multi-cloud. To this end, we’re applying VMware cloud expertise and designed a new cloud-first approach to MANO, a strategy that abstracts much of the cloud complexities and exposes the new multi-cloud ecosystem through standard telco interfaces (following ETSI standards). At the very heart of this approach is VMware’s ability to build native integrations at each layer and to continuously synchronize the bottom infrastructure stack (VIM/NFVI) with the upper MANO stack (NFVO/VNFM).
This new approach allows the service and application layers to be cloud/multi-cloud aware and to leverage all available data centers as a shared pool of resources. It also enables more savvy policy/placement decisions that avoid rollbacks, a major problem in most of today’s MANO implementations.
Figure 2: Difference between traditional blueprint-first and VMware new cloud-first approach
By applying this cloud-first philosophy combined with a standards-based and a network function vendor-neutral position, VMware Telco Cloud Automation helps CSPs to:
- Orchestrate and automate network functions/services with multi-cloud agility from the core to the edge, and from private to public cloud.
- Unify the management of network functions of any vendor on VM-based and Container-based infrastructures (ETSI standard-compliant VNF/CNF/PNF).
- Streamline the orchestration journey with native VIM integrations and a pluggable architecture following ETSI-MANO standards.
- Enable a thriving multi-vendor telco cloud ecosystem with standard interfaces and the certification of partner’s network functions from the NFVI to the NFVO.
Vetted by customers and partners
From day one, we have worked with customers and partners to create a product adapted to their needs. We are thankful to them for all the guidance provided and the time they’ve devoted to proof the product’s capabilities.
As a positive response, VMware is already engaged in Beta trials with several customers. More notably, the platform is being rolled out in various Opcos of a large Tier 1 carrier, supporting its next-generation automation initiative. As part of that project, VMware Telco Cloud Automation manages the orchestration and automation of hundreds of network functions and services for both 4G and 5G networks – plus the implementation of new cloud-native 5G network services.
A fundamental aspect of any MANO solution is its ability to evolve in a multi-vendor ecosystem. As an infrastructure provider for many years, VMware already has a robust group of VNF partners certified on its technology (150+ VNFs certified from all major equipment providers). And, as part of our Telco Cloud Automation efforts, we’ve worked with many of these partners to integrate their VNFs and now CNFs, including Affirmed Networks, Metaswitch, Altiostar, Mavenir, Altran, VeloCloud, and Avi Networks. The Ready for NFV Program, extended for VMware Telco Cloud Automation, will open soon after this announcement. Any partner can submit a certification request today and will be contacted once the certification program becomes available.
A closer look at the core capabilities and features provided with this version:
The core capabilities for VMware Telco Cloud Automation can be grouped into four areas:
- Generic VNF Management (G-VNFM) unifies and standardizes network function management across physical (PNF), VM (VNF) and Container-based (CNF) infrastructures.
- NFV/Domain Orchestration (NFVO) simplifies the design and management of centralized and distributed multi-vendor network services (chaining PNF/CNF/VNF).
- Multi-Cloud Infrastructure Management abstracts cloud complexity, eases VIM registration, synchronizes inventories/resources, and collects faults and performance from infrastructure to network functions.
- Policy and Placement engine enables intent-based and multi-cloud workload/policy placements from the network core to edge, and from private to public clouds.
Figure 3: VMware Telco Cloud Automation & multi-VIM integrations
A set of features to simplify and transform network operations
- Native VIM/Kubernetes integrations. VMware Telco Cloud Automation integrates natively with VMware vCloud NFV 2.1/3.2.1/3.3 (vCD/OpenStack editions), VMware Cloud (VMC) 1.9, VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) Cluster API 1.16 (w/ Helm support for resource description).
- Multi-cloud, multi-VIM registration. The multi-VIM registration process allows CSP to easily add multiple VIMs to Telco Cloud Automation. Through its local VIM distributed component, it auto-discovers all required VIM/tenant configurations without needing API integration or complex commands to execute.
Figure 4: Multi-cloud – multi-VIM
Figure 5: Simplified VIM registration
- Continuous VIM synchronization. Once registered, the VIM automatically synchronizes with Telco Cloud Automation, providing real-time information about its configurations, state, faults/performance (FM/PM) and inventories – from resources (CPU, storage, memory, etc.) to network, deployed VMs and network functions.
- Single pane of glass. The orchestrator lets you view all elements of your telco cloud in a centralized location, from network services and network functions to the cloud virtual infrastructure. CSPs can quickly assess the state of all components and their performance, and trigger automatic actions to remediate identified issues.
Figure: 6: Telco Cloud 360° awareness
- Access all network functions and services in a single location. The centralized catalogs offer access to all onboarded network functions (PNF/CNF/VNF) including those onboarded using VMware Telco Cloud Automation and others managed through third-party S-VNFM (see southbound integrations). Similarly, all onboarded network services are available in a centralized catalog.
- Easily onboard any network function and service. VMware Telco Cloud Automation enables onboarding of SOL001/004-compliant network functions and services. Once onboarded, the network functions and services are added to their respective catalogs for review and instantiation. Note that the VMware Ready for NFV program lets VNF partners certify VNFD and package on VMware vCloud NFV and VMware Telco Cloud Automation.
- Design network functions and services through an easy-to-use visual composer. The visual composer provides an end-to-end environment to design new or modify existing ETSI-MANO compliant TOSCA templates. The network function template integrates elements such as VDU/HELM, network, resources, automation interfaces, and other artifacts. Similarly, network services can chain network functions from different vendors and technologies (VNF/CNF/PNF). In parallel to the design, the solution generates a YAML source file as part of the package that can be further edited. Once saved, the ETSI compliant package is automatically onboarded or can be downloaded.
Figure 7: VNF/CNF onboarding and design
Figure 8: TOSCA-template network service visual composer (also available for CNF/VNF design)
- Customize automation processes. VMware extends ETSI-MANO standard automation capabilities with custom workflows enabled through interfaces. Telco Cloud Automation integrates natively with VMware vRealize Orchestrator (vRO) to trigger—and simplify—the design of new custom workflows. CSPs can also easily reuse any existing VNF workflows created through vRO.
- Intent-based placement. Continuous synchronization between Telco Cloud Automation and the VIM enables effective intent-based placement. Telco Cloud Automation automatically optimizes workload placement on the most suitable cloud, matching the descriptor requirements with the cloud profiles. These cloud profiles include available resources, networks and VIM-specific capabilities (e.g., SR-IOV, DPDK, etc.).
- Distribute workload placements. The orchestrator lets CSPs take full advantage of their multi-cloud ecosystem, distributing workloads among multiple clouds. As part of the network service instantiation process, CSPs can assign clouds in similar or different locations, and each network functions part of the service. The right transport network is then assigned to provide connectivity across sites.
- Hybrid cloud placements. CSPs can now take advantage of public clouds as an alternate set of resources. Telco Cloud Automation allows for workload placement and mobility across both private and public clouds such as AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google (via VMware VMC).
Figure 9: Multi-cloud and hybrid placement
- Automate lifecycle management. The orchestrator offers automation capabilities driven by a policy engine that executes standard closed-loop policies described in VNFD and NSD, plus custom defined workflows. These policies apply to the entire lifecycle management (day 0; day 1; day 2 operations – instantiate, heal, scale, update, etc.) of network functions and services for lean operational processes. They also remove complicated, tedious and repetitive tasks while maximizing overall resource utilization through dynamic scaling and multi-cloud workload mobility.
- Auto-action operations. The orchestrator allows actions to be triggered from various decision points including NFVO, G-VNFM and Element Manager.
- Tailored governance. Telco Cloud Automation combines multi-tenancy and role-based access control to enable a tailored governance model. The multi-tenancy allows the isolation of network functions and services to specific group(s) (and/or Opcos) while the roles-based access control enables data and operation segregations (e.g., NFVO, VNFM, VNF Designer, Voice VNF Manager, etc.). These governance capabilities apply to both GUI and API interactions.
A product that speaks telco and cloud
VMware Telco Cloud Automation supports core ETSI-MANO guidelines for telco component interoperability and leverages native integration with VIM and Kubernetes for northbound interfaces (e.g., placement, KPI collection, etc.). This architecture provides a streamlined and flexible approach for orchestrating telco standards-compliant workloads on a fast-evolving multi-cloud ecosystem. CSPs can interact with telco standards and allow Telco Cloud Automation to translate the requirements in cloud capabilities.
Telco standardized interfaces facilitate Telco Cloud Automation deployment and interactions within a multi-vendor MANO architecture. Here’s a list of supported interfaces:
- VNF descriptor definition and package IFA011/SOL001 and IFA014/SOL004
- S-VNFM integration to NFVO through IFA007/SOL003
- EMS integration to G-VNFM and NFVO through IFA008/SOL002
- Service Orchestrator/Service Assurance/OSS/BSS integrations to NFVO through IFA013/SOL005 and relevant TMF API’s
Figure 10: Southbound interfaces
Northbound VIM interfaces are supported by Telco Cloud Automation through native integrations with VMware vCloud NFV 2.1/3.2.1/3.3 – (vCloud Director and VMware Integrated OpenStack editions), VMware Cloud (VMC) 1.9, and Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) – Cluster API 1.16 (w/ Helm support for resource description).
Accelerate the network transformation journey while controlling operational costs
CSPs switching to the network cloud can now do so with great ease thanks to VMware Telco Cloud Automation. Its broad feature set simplifies and expands your capabilities, delivering consistency from infrastructure to network services. The latest addition to VMware’s growing cloud portfolio, VMware Telco Cloud Automation empowers CSPs with a solution that streamlines the orchestration journey, enables a thriving multi-vendor ecosystem and delivers the multi-cloud agility that modern networks require.
Learn more about VMware Telco Cloud Automation, the new telco cloud orchestrator for CSPs brought to you by VMware: