Communication service providers are transitioning to a decoupled architecture for cloud-native network functions and platforms. How can industry leaders like Ericsson and VMware contribute to facilitate the required change?
Communications Service Providers (CSPs) worldwide are undergoing a profound transformation as they transition their networks to 5G. In addition to the expected spectrum and hardware investments, CSPs’ are completely rethinking and overhauling their technical approach to 5G deployments. CSPs are embracing cloud-native principles, leaping from hardware-based architectures to nimble software-driven frameworks for better scalability, reliability, and agility. While 5G has the potential for significant benefits, it’s not without its challenges and CSPs are turning to proven, trusted industry leading partners for solutions. Partners like Ericsson, the leading provider of 5G software and hardware, and VMware, the company that drove network function virtualization and helped launch the cloud-native movement.
An alliance for technical collaboration
Ericsson and VMware established an alliance in 2019 with the overarching goal of helping CSPs who have chosen to deploy a combination of Ericsson and VMware technology to successfully conquer the challenges of this transformation.
To best support our customers, the companies presently collaborate on close to 20 in-depth technical projects. These projects aim at simplifying joint-deployment to operator networks by validating the interoperability of various technology configurations and pre-testing product combinations. In addition to these projects, 35 Ericsson products and Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) are certified as Ready for VMware Telco Cloud Infrastructure, a precursor to such in-depth technical collaborations.
Both procedures illustrate our commitment to our long-standing, deep technical collaboration, helping CSPs accelerate the deployment of Ericsson’s offerings on VMware’s platforms. Together, we work to deliver predictable outcomes, mitigating the risks to customers experience in their network implementations. At the same time, Ericsson and VMware take their individual responsibilities from a business, delivery and support perspective.
Ericsson’s and VMware’s commitment to openness, flexibility, and choice is what got us started on these in-depth technical collaborations. This work ensures product compatibility and production readiness for operator networks, identifying optimal architectures as well as simplifying deployment by testing reference configurations. This is done by documenting and automating installation and operational processes. Another aim is to provide customers with known performance and operational characteristics, and the guidance they need to deploy, run, operate, and maintain Ericsson network functions on VMware infrastructure.
Such validated Ericsson solutions on VMware’s Telco Cloud Infrastructure (TCI), and Telco Cloud Platform (TCP) span 4G and 5G core, OSS, BSS, IMS/Cloud VoLTE, and more.
Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G Core orchestrated on VMware’s Telco Cloud Platform
Today, we announce that Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G Core is actively undergoing system validation on VMware Telco Cloud Platform to confirm that the platform can onboard and host the 5G Core cloud-native network functions (CNFs). Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G Core offers customers the ability to operate 4G and 5G networks concurrently without sacrificing network performance or efficiency. By bringing to market Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G Core on VMware’s Telco Cloud Platform, CSPs can benefit from accelerated core deployment while lowering TCO and mitigating risk.
Ericsson and VMware are collaborating to give customers choice when it comes to validated architectures when deploying Ericsson’s 5G Core and other cloud-native network functions on VMware’s Telco Cloud platform. Three infrastructure platform and orchestration choices will be available to customers. All will be validated for customer deployment, as shown below:
This architecture incorporates a complete deployment of VMware’s Telco Cloud Platform as the infrastructure for Ericsson’s network function execution. VMware’s Telco Cloud Automation (TCA) manages network orchestration (NFVO), network function onboarding/deployment and life cycle management, as well as Container as a Service (CaaS) management functionality.
This architecture incorporates Ericsson orchestration along with Ericsson cloud-native network functions on a VMware Telco Cloud Platform installation. This will allow customers to utilize Ericsson Orchestrator within a VMware-hosted CNF deployment in concert with automation and orchestration capabilities provided by VMware Telco Cloud Automation CaaS Management. The combination enables the creation, lifecycle management and configuration of Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) worker nodes, preparing them for the deployment of Ericsson 5G Core CNFs. Ericsson Orchestrator Cloud Manager NFVO and Ericsson Orchestrator Evolved VNF Manager will handle the lifecycle management of CNFs and clusters as well as tenant and capacity management.
This architecture incorporates Ericsson orchestration along with Ericsson cloud-native network functions on a VMware Telco Cloud Infrastructure installation. Ericsson Orchestrator Cloud Manager NFVO is integrated with VMware Telco Cloud infrastructure in order to create, lifecycle manage and configure Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) worker nodes and make them ready for deployment of Ericsson 5GC CNFs. Ericsson Orchestrator Cloud Manager NFVO and Ericsson Orchestrator Evolved VNF Manager will handle the lifecycle management of CNFs and clusters as well as handling tenants and capacity management.
A continuous joint effort
CSPs leveraging these Ericsson and VMware offerings will be able to plan their migration path to a fully cloud-native dual-mode 5G Core operations over time. The result is a flexible migration path allowing for a smooth evolution from a legacy to a 5G Core. Onboarding and system validation is a continuous joint effort which takes place at both VMware and Ericsson labs to ensure engineering support and alignment on these reference configurations and platform versions.
“We have a large number of technical collaborations with VMware where we jointly test Ericsson and VMware products for interoperability”, says Anders Rosengren, Head of Common Research and Development, Ericsson Digital Services. “We don’t bundle our offerings from a sales and support point of view, that’s an important distinction to make, but through these technical collaborations we validate that an agreed reference configuration can be deployed in a CSP’s production environment with real traffic. In the end this significantly reduces customers’ risks, and improves time-to-market for service deployment.”
Lakshmi Mandyam, VP, Service Provider Product Mgmt & Partner Ecosystem at VMware added: “Service providers are looking for flexibility and the freedom to choose best-of-breed products that will help them overcome 5G challenges and win in the marketplace. Having Ericsson’s robust network function portfolio validated to run on VMware’s infrastructure gives customers unprecedented control over their networks and confidence in their path forward. The clear guidelines we developed together will help CSPs modernize more rapidly as they embrace cloud-native, software-first networks.”
Named the overall leader in 5G Telco Cloud-Native Platforms by ABI Research, VMware transformed the way service providers work. Our solutions simplify network management and free service providers to run network functions and workloads in their private cloud, the public cloud or at the network edge. Customers rely on VMware to scale, automate, orchestrate and manage their 5G networks. With 250+ Ready for Telco Cloud-certified offerings from 35+ vendors, VMware’s ecosystem helps CSPs accelerate network monetization and achieve the agility they need for rapid service rollout. Our ecosystem products are deployed at CSPs worldwide, helping them today, as they are onboarding of 5G along with 4G, and preparing them for the next G of tomorrow.
Communication service providers all around the world have chosen to deploy 5G using Ericsson’s leading network technology, and Ericsson is named a Leader in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for 5G Network Infrastructure report. To support our customers in their rollout of advanced 5G services we are committed to working with our extensive partner ecosystem, including cloud platform and Hyperscale Cloud Provider partners. The fact that Ericsson’s cloud-native network functions by design are built on cloud native principles, and fully compliant with the requirements of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), means that Ericsson’s applications and network functions are agnostic to the underlying infrastructure and can run on any CNCF compliant 3rd party platform.
We look forward to providing the market with additional updates on our collaboration in the coming months and to seeing how our jointly tested solutions are deployed in the field by customers.