Open Ecosystem

Collaboration to the Core: Ericsson and VMware validation projects bring velocity to 5G installations

The latest version of VMware Telco Cloud Platform is now system validated to run Ericsson’s cloud-native 5G Core solution at the sites of joint customers. As a next step, we’re gearing up for the continuation of our joint collaboration to system validate the next version of VMware Telco Cloud Platform. We’re also making good progress with the technical collaboration for orchestration, having the Ericsson Orchestrator suite managing both Ericsson CNFs and VMware Telco Cloud Infrastructure and VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid. 

Ericsson and VMware continue their joint technical collaborations

Since inking our alliance in 2019, we are now engaged in more than 25 technical collaboration projects, spanning Core Networks, Network Management, and Business & Operations Support Systems. In these projects, VMware’s platforms are validated for deploying and running Ericsson’s cloud-native or virtualized network functions (CNFs or VNFs) by following an established process involving both companies led by a common objective:

Targeting Communication Service Providers (CSPs) that opt to deploy a mix of Ericsson and VMware technology – we create customer value by pre-testing and documenting specific combinations of Ericsson network functions and VMware platforms to speed up the implementation in CSPs’ networks and minimize the need for local system integration.

Our technical collaboration projects begin by outlining the needs of the Ericsson network functions on the underlying VMware platform, taking requirements such as networking, compute, and load balancing into account. This work ensures that the Ericsson Applications can deploy and run on VMware’s platforms at our joint customers. One of the key deliverables from the technical collaboration between Ericsson and VMware is the creation of a joint Reference Configuration.

Importance of the Reference Configuration

A joint Reference Configuration is the foundation upon which system validation is executed.  Once defined, this Reference Configuration is deployed in joint Ericsson-VMware engineering labs, where exhaustive testing then beings. The teams progress through a set of well-defined test cases spanning onboarding, security, stability, performance, robustness, and resiliency.  Where necessary, the teams will make adjustments to the Reference Configuration to ensure the optimal result. Upon successful completion of this process, and in addition to publishing the Reference Configuration, the following deliverables are also created:

  • Software baseline
  • System validation test scope and outcome
  • Deployment and configuration guidelines

By adhering to the Reference Configuration and by using these deliverables, CSPs can reduce complexity in their deployment, increase installation velocity, and limit the need for additional system integration tasks.

VMware Telco Cloud Platform 2.5 system validated for Ericsson cloud-native 5G Core

In November 2022, our engineering teams completed the VMware Telco Cloud Platform 2.5 system validation testing for Ericsson’s cloud-native 5G Core. The agreed test scope was executed, and the Reference Configuration was confirmed.

For this Reference Configuration, VMware Telco Cloud Automation is used for the deployment of Ericsson’s 5G Core CNFs onto VMware Telco Cloud Platform.  

Ericsson 5G Core consists of a set of network functions, including the Packet Core Controller (PCC), Packet Core Gateway (PCG), Cloud Core Resource Controller (CCRC), Cloud Core Subscription Manager (CCSM), etc., that make up Ericsson’s complete 5G Core solution of network functions.

At the beginning of the system validation of the VMware platform, each Ericsson network function (CNF) is run through the VMware Ready for Telco Cloud Certification program, wherein VMware develops the requisite CSAR packages (Cloud Service Archive files) and conducts functional testing and certification of each network function.

Figure 1: Ericsson 5G Core cloud-native network functions (CNFs) on VMware Telco Cloud Platform, using VMware Telco Cloud Automation for the onboarding and management of network functions and VMware Telco Cloud Platform.

The VMware Telco Cloud Platform 2.5 bundle consists of the latest software versions of VMware vSphere, VMware NSX-T, VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid, and a set of other software components as well as VMware Telco Cloud Automation.

For more details and documentation resulting from the System Validation of Ericsson 5G Core on VMware Telco Cloud Platform, including Reference Configuration, software baselines, test results/observations and findings, etc., please contact your Ericsson and VMware account representatives.

Coming up: Validating the next VMware platform release

The constant upgrading of network functions and platforms are an essential part of a continuous flow in the operations of a CSP.

We’re now initiating plans for the first 2023 system validation cycle, where VMware Telco Cloud Platform 3.0 will be validated to host the next software release of Ericsson’s cloud-native 5G Core solution. The teams are working through initial planning, lab preparation and scheduling.

As part of our continued collaboration, VMware, with support from Ericsson, will continue to develop and expand the CSAR packages for VMware Telco Cloud Automation, to include additional lifecycle management use cases for Ericsson CNFs on Telco Cloud Platform.

Ericsson Orchestrator as a combined CNF and CaaS manager

Ericsson and VMware run two technical collaboration projects supporting two alternative LCM and Orchestration options. One alternative is the one explained above: Using the complete VMware Telco Cloud Platform as infrastructure for and orchestration of Ericsson’s cloud-native 5G Core CNFs.

The other variant uses parts of the VMware Telco Cloud Platform bundle (i.e., VMware ESXi, vSphere, VMware vSAN, NSX-T, and Tanzu Kubernetes Grid) as the underlying infrastructure, which is combined with the Ericsson Orchestrator suite that’s used for orchestration.

Figure 2: Ericsson 5G Core cloud-native network functions (CNFs) on VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid and VMware Telco Cloud Infrastructure using Ericsson Orchestrator for 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 Tanzu Kubernetes Grid in order to create, manage (update, scale, terminate) and configure Tanzu Kubernetes Grid worker nodes and make them ready for 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 handling tenants and capacity management.

Lifecycle Management of the CNFs is a straightforward process since it’s executed by using the Ericsson Orchestrator Evolved VNF Manager (EO EVNFM). Using EO EVNFM for managing Ericsson CNFs is an established combination already available, which requires only minor modifications to function in a Tanzu Kubernetes Grid environment.

When Ericsson Orchestrator Cloud Manager (EO CM) is used for CaaS management, the interface used for interoperability between EO CM and Tanzu Kubernetes Grid is the Cluster API (CAPI). A Kubernetes project with contributions from a wide range of companies including VMware and Ericsson, Cluster API enables declarative management for Kubernetes by using APIs to easily create, configure, and update clusters. Ericsson Orchestrator Cloud Manager will be integrated directly with Tanzu Kubernetes Grid, and by leveraging the CAPI interface it will bring several benefits including significant flexibility, as well as a forward-looking view toward cloud-native and DevOps LCM activities.

To ensure that the most effective method is used for the integration between Ericsson Orchestrator Cloud Manager and Tanzu Kubernetes Grid, we’re taking a standardized tooling approach using the tools already provided and supported individually by both Ericsson and VMware.

For the Workload Cluster integration, the goal of using the CAPI interface is to be able to take the same LCM benefits that are already provided in Kubernetes with regards to deployments and apply that same paradigm to the entire Kubernetes cluster. The result is a method that allows us to declare a cluster, much in the same way we would declare a deployment, service, or a POD. This results in an authored manifest of the cluster that can be versioned controlled, edited and modified to achieve the desired result (i.e., for a cluster-specific layout). This method ensures that, from one iteration to the next, the underlying infrastructure required to run a CNF is the same.

This technical collaboration project, introducing Ericsson Orchestrator as an orchestration solution for managing both Ericsson’s CNFs and VMware’s CaaS, is currently being discussed and demonstrated with selected customers. Stay tuned for more information.


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