Highlights From Analysys Mason Report: Benchmarking Edge-Native Cloud Stacks for vRAN and MEC

Communication Service Providers (CSPs) are continuously seeking to deploy a common cloud stack to support multi-vendor, cloud-native 5G network functions, especially for the virtualized and disaggregated RAN.

To deploy modernized 5G network functions across a highly distributed fabric of edge computing nodes, automation, analytics, and intelligence will be the key additional functionalities needed to the existing NFV Infrastructure. This new modernized edge-native cloud architecture enables CSPs to build disaggregated and programmable 5G networks.

Amidst the transformation of the RAN, it is important to focus on solving market identified needs by creating a modernized edge environment ready for a new portfolio of functionalities while driving down cost and increasing operational efficiency.

In the report “Benchmarking Edge-Native Cloud Stacks for vRAN and MEC”, Analysys Mason recommends that CSPs evaluate vendors in this new modernized edge-native cloud environment against a set of requirements that do not exist in the current central cloud. As key recommendations, the analysts advised:

Figure 1- Recommendations to Evaluate Ecosystem. Source: Analysys Mason “Benchmarking Edge-Native Cloud Stacks for vRAN and MEC”, Oct 2021

The report also states that the capabilities like cluster management, location awareness, autonomous management and support for a heterogeneous hardware environment are more important than elasticity, the key feature of the currently deployed central cloud, in an edge cloud stack.  

Figure 2 – High-level comparison between the cloud versus edge native infrastructure. Source: Analysys Mason, Oct 2021

Furthermore, the report acknowledges that CSPs who can integrate the additional capabilities, mentioned above, onto an edge cloud stack will be well-placed to serve their enterprise customers that are seeking new cloud locations at the edge of CSPs’ networks where such locations are much closer to end devices for latency, sovereignty and cost reasons than the currently deployed central cloud.

Choosing the right cloud stack is critical for future edge-native applications. See how each vendor is positioned in the quadrant by scoring their technical and commercial capabilities in this topic:

Figure 3- Overview of scores of vendors in the report according to the Analysys Mason framework. Source: Analysys Mason, Oct 2021

VMware is the leader.

VMware is the edge-native leader, providing a common cloud stack for the 5G network functions, specifically the virtualized and disaggregated 5G RAN.

As strengths, the report describes, VMware has the most extensive vendor ecosystem and a wide certification program on the market – consistent across multiple third-party cloud infrastructure options, and with strong customer references for virtualization, telco cloud and notable 5G vRAN/edge cloud wins.

VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN includes an optimized version of the ESXi hypervisor to manage B2B edge apps and is optimized for the vRAN as a high-performance cloud stack for operators’ 5G network function and enterprise edge (MEC) deployments.

The hypervisor-based edge cloud stack supports both vRAN and enterprise workloads on the same platform by using VM-based isolation and its own cloud infrastructure performance optimization to enable CSPs to monetize from their vRAN edge cloud.

Running vDUs on x86 infrastructure with realtime vSphere delivers comparable performance to bare metal, as tested in Intel labs (See analysis here). With paralleled performance, VMware’s portfolio expands the benefits of virtualization including improved innovation processes.  VMware platforms provide developer ecosystems with access to a common set of tools and capabilities across network environments, enable DevOps approaches and accelerating innovation.

The report includes evaluation of the VMware edge automation and management layer which are considered well-suited for the telecoms sector, as they offer flexibility for many environments – CSPs that already have NFV MANO-based orchestration may not be ready to adopt a pure cloud-native, K8s-based approach.

Read the full report, and learn more on our website.

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