Telco Cloud 5G and 6G RAN

Envisioning Positive Outcomes from Optimized and Agile Telecom Capabilities

The diversity, complexity, and scale of telecommunications networks — especially as telcos move from 4G networks to 5G — don’t lend themselves well to either reductionist or overarching approaches to network capabilities. The fact of the matter is that the problems with existing telecommunications networks, even when overgeneralized, go well beyond the bounds of a Twitter post. Strategic decision-makers at telcos face a range of interrelated network issues and initiatives — such as reducing reliance on costly physical network appliances, reducing operational complexity and costs, and meeting regulatory and consumer demands.

Positive outcomes for these initiates can be, in general, envisioned in terms of efficiency, flexibility, agility, and replicability, all driven by adopting software-defined approaches, specialized capabilities, and cloud-native technology: 

  • Deploy a horizontal platform optimized for telecom workloads and for supporting diverse network functions.
  • Develop the agility and automation to respond to changing market conditions.
  • Simplify operations for deploying, managing, and updating network functions.
  • Deliver the right resources, in the right place, at the right time.
  • Be able to rapidly deploy and centrally manage telecommunications sites and services to address use cases like network slicing, edge computing, emerging connectivity services, and fixed wireless access.

Solving these problems with telecom-specific capabilities is the key to rolling out 5G. You must be able to provide telecommunications-specific networks and infrastructure that meet the unique requirements of your telco in the context of your regulatory environment, your existing network, and shifting consumer demand. In this context, however, legacy solutions targeted at IT workloads simply don’t cut it — they come up short against the yardstick of these kinds of telecom-specific requirements.

Placing a Premium on Operational Efficiency at Scale

The transition to 5G puts an emphasis on being able to efficiently do the following: 

  • Deliver the performance and massive scale uniquely required by telecommunications networks, regulatory environments, and consumers.
  • Design, deploy, and operate innovative 5G services and network functions with agility, assurance, and automation.
  • Automate, orchestrate, and optimize containerized network functions (CNFs), virtual network functions (VNFs), and 5G services from a centralized location for operational efficiency and visibility. 

To fulfill these high-level requirements, CSPs must take a tactical approach to designing and operating services across heterogeneous infrastructure while supporting interoperability with various vendors as well as high availability and ultra-reliability.

Platform Optimized for Deploying and Managing Telecom Networks

VMware Telco Cloud Platform, which has been widely deployed and used by more than 150 CSPs globally across their RAN and core networks, is optimized to design, deploy, and manage telecommunications-specific networks and workloads, including OSS and BSS workloads. The platform includes virtual and containerized infrastructure along with network function management to fulfill the requirements of telecommunications operators for deploying and optimizing cloud-native and virtualized network functions. 

VMware Telco Cloud Platform has been designed and engineered to address the requirements of telecommunications companies and their networks within the context of not only existing telecom industry standards, such as ETSI and 3GPP, but also emerging telecom standards, such as those of the O-RAN Alliance. 

In stark contrast, alternative solutions take a post hoc approach to telecom requirements and standards: These other solutions are typically built to address the requirements of enterprises and their IT workloads, and then — after the fact — shoehorned into a form that ostensibly addresses 5G requirements. The assumption that such an alternative solution will fulfill the requirements of a telco, however, typically turns out to be wide of the mark.

Automation and Assurance Tailored to Telecommunications Networks

Telecom-specific automation lets operators design, deploy, and orchestrate multi-vendor VNFs and CNFs, including their life cycles, in accordance with ETSI standards. In addition, to configure network functions and optimize their placement, Dynamic Infrastructure Policies give an operator the flexibility and automation to match configuration and resource requirements to its network topology. 

The platform can also be integrated with service assurance capabilities, such as automated closed-loop remediation. The assurance capabilities include fault management, performance management, service management, root-cause analysis, and service-impact analysis. With the platform’s actionable insights in near real time and end‑to‑end visibility of physical, virtual, and service layers, network operations centers (NOCs) and service operations centers (SOCs) can manage many telecommunications networks as one to rapidly resolve network issues.

Platform Tuned to Deliver High Performance and Low-Latency Networks

Default capabilities, such as Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) and Single-Root Input/Output Virtualization (SR-IOV), accelerate packet processing. CPU pinning and fine-grained non-uniform memory access provide a low-latency data plane for telecom workloads. The platform also supports telco-specific requirements for the following:

  • IPv6 
  • Anti-affinity rules 
  • Carrier-grade multi-tenancy

Comprehensive Network Function Certification Program

The VMware Ready for Telco Cloud program certifies that partners’ network functions work with VMware Telco Cloud Platform. As one of the largest certification programs for telecom networks, the program has produced a diverse ecosystem of network functions aligned to the needs of telcos. The program seeks to ensure that a network function is interoperable with the platform and to automate deployment and lifecycle operations. Toward that end, the scope of the certification focuses on the following aspects of onboarding, automation, and validation: 

  • Platform compliance checks
  • Seamless VNF or CNF onboarding
  • Zero-touch or near zero-touch Cloud Service Archive (CSAR) deployment artifacts

In close collaboration with partners, VMware creates an ETSI-compliant descriptor, workflow, resource, and artifacts for a validated and tested Cloud Service Archive (CSAR) to help CSPs select the best solutions for their use cases while reducing the risks associated with the complexity of onboarding network functions.

Professional Services to Meet Operational Objectives

Through our work with large telcos around the world, VMware Professional Services has found that the telcos have several Day 2 operations objectives in common. The primary goal for most CSPs is to accelerate network service, delivery, and innovation while controlling operational costs. To achieve this goal, their primary objectives are typically the following:

  • Rapidly roll out new network services and capabilities
  • Deliver carrier-grade service reliability
  • Automate everything
  • Integrate with best-in-class ecosystems
  • Optimize and operate at scale

The reality for most of the CSPs is that they are hosting virtualized network functions on highly complex, distributed, heterogeneous telco cloud deployments — and our platform and capabilities need to fit into those deployments while helping them advance to highly manageable, efficient systems for 5G.

Carrier-Grade Infrastructure with Automation and Assurance for Telecommunications Networks

Unlike typical IT workloads, telecom workloads have carrier-grade requirements for specialized infrastructure, operations, automation, and assurance. VMware Telco Cloud Platform fulfills these telecom-specific requirements to rapidly deploy and manage a telecommunications network at scale. Check out the following resources to see how VMware can help you implement specialized telecommunications capabilities to set your telco on a path to positive outcomes.