When setting up a telecom platform and deploying a network devolves into manual work, one word springs to mind: complexity. Similar complaints abound: It takes too much time, the costs are too high, the risks too great, the errors too many. There’s no better way to sabotage your network modernization efforts than bogging down in the manual minutiae of just getting it done.
After installation, configuration, and that first deployment come all the other things that accompany a mixed network in transition to 5G: lifecycle management, multi-vendor integrations, performance checks, monitoring, and service assurance, to name a few. That early deployment complexity can snowball into operational inefficiencies. It’s a devolutionary spiral of wasting time and money.
But a large chunk of the solution can be summed up in a single word, too: automation.
Easier said than done. Automation is the one thing that you want more of as you work to modernize, scale, manage, and monetize large, distributed, mission-critical telecommunications networks. Automation puts the power and benefits of cloud-native telco within reach.
And that’s why we have been advancing our telco cloud with a relentless focus on automation. The recent releases of our cornerstone platforms and products empower your organization with the automation you need to overcome complexity, to successfully disaggregate the RAN, and to efficiently deploy, manage, monitor, and optimize multi-cloud 5G networks.
Automate Early and Often
As a key component of VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN, VMware Telco Cloud Automation turns manual configuration and deployment work for containerized network functions (CNFs), Kubernetes, and bare metal into automatic, repeatable operations:
- Dynamic infrastructure policies automatically configure the underlying infrastructure resources to meet the requirements of the CNFs being deployed.
- Multi-cloud support fosters easy use of Amazon Web Services.
- Templating tools let you rapidly deploy new RAN sites and decrease CNF instantiation time.
- Bare metal automation will automatically set up and configure bare metal servers with VMware ESXi.
Dynamic Infrastructure Policies
To deploy virtual CUs and vDUs without automation, scores of customizations would require costly, time-consuming manual intervention and repetition across hundreds, possibly thousands, of instances.
VMware Telco Cloud Automation dynamically configures infrastructure resources to meet the requirements of the CNFs being deployed, ensuring the right node customization at instantiation time regardless of the type of CNF or the CNF’s vendor. The automated customization of the following types of items lets you fulfill heterogeneous vRAN and 5G core vendor requirements with speed, consistency, and efficiency:
- Real-time Linux kernel versions
- Network adapters
- Precision Time Protocol configuration
- NUMA alignment
- Kernel arguments like Huge Pages
- Custom Linux package installations
- Configuration for the tuned daemon
- DPDK binding for SR-IOV interfaces
Dynamic Infrastructure Policies can automatically customize such items during instantiation. The result prevents the overprovisioning of hardware resources and significantly shortens times for pre-deployment configuration and validation.
A customizable template paired with automated instantiation of virtualized RAN (vRAN) functions and dynamic infrastructure policies radically reduces the time to deploy new RAN sites.
Multi-cloud operations and automation of AWS and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) lets you provision CNFs directly on Amazon EKS so you can unite management of workloads running on-premises and on public cloud infrastructure. The result is operational consistency for managing workloads. It also opens up deployment options for edge services.
VMware Telco Cloud Automation now also supports the installation of the AKO operator for clusters (AVI Load-Balancer Kubernetes Operator Lifecycle Management) and the installation of extensions for VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid like Prometheus and Fluent Bit.
See the blog post on what is new in VMware Telco Cloud Automation.
VMware Bare Metal Automation
VMware Bare Metal Automation will be an optional add-on for VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN or VMware Telco Cloud Platform 5G.
VMware Bare Metal Automation will gather hardware information, automate BIOS configuration, handle firmware upgrades, provision disk arrays, build ISO images, install VMware ESXi, configure network interfaces, assign hostnames, and connect to storage systems. The result will deliver end-to-end network automation.
VMware Telco Cloud Platform helps you deliver new applications and services, reduce operational complexity, and achieve substantial total-cost-of-ownership savings over legacy vertical siloed approaches. The updated platform adds several new features and enhancements, including the following:
- Containers as a service (CaaS) infrastructure updates let you upgrade control plane and worker node pools separately and to better manage cluster failures.
- VMware NSX features an intrusion detection and prevention system for east-west network traffic that is supported by NSX Gateway Firewall. It detects malicious attempts to exploit system flaws or gain unauthorized access to the platform while decrypting and inspecting the packet payload to prevent persistent threats.
Centralizing and Automating Monitoring and Service Management
VMware Telco Cloud Service Assurance holistically monitors and manages physical and virtual infrastructure as well as services and applications so you get a single pane of glass for fault management, performance management, service management, root-cause analysis, and service-impact analysis in multi-vendor, multi-cloud environments. The latest release delivers mobile service assurance across a range of use cases, including CaaS, 4G and 5G mobile cores, network slicing, and RAN.
The cloud-native architecture of VMware Telco Cloud Service Assurance 2.0 includes a data collector framework that supports you as you modernize your network. VMware Telco Cloud Service Assurance can collect data from various monitoring tools, including VMware vRealize Operations. Kafka data collectors grab real-time data from common element and network management systems that support Kafka event streaming.
VMware Telco Cloud Service Assurance 2.0 uses standard ETSI NFV-SOL interfaces for integration with a standards-based orchestrator such as VMware Telco Cloud Automation for closed-loop automation and remediation.
For more information, see VMware Unveils Telco Cloud Service Assurance – What’s New in Release 2.0 and 2.0.1.
Fostering an Open, Programming, Multi-Vendor RAN with VMware RIC
A concept defined by the O-RAN Alliance, the RAN intelligent controller, or RIC, is a powerful concept: It opens up the RAN to multiple vendors and empowers them to develop applications to program the network. By tapping artificial intelligence and machine learning, these applications fire up efforts to optimize and monetize the RAN.
The RAN Intelligent Controller from VMware, called VMware RIC, brings network programmability, control, and automation to the RAN by hosting so-called xApps and rApps. For more information, see Open to Innovation: Building Programmable Radio Access Networks with VMware RIC.
Ready for Telco Cloud Program
Rapidly deploying 5G networks that minimize risk and improve flexibility calls for a multi-vendor approach for not only the core but also the radio access network. Automation and orchestration need to be abstracted away from individual network functions so they can be managed efficiently from a centralized location at scale. As for CNFs, improvements in automation become a prerequisite for managing them efficiently.
Sure, a monolithic stack might seem attractive at first glance when you just want to meet a get-to-market objective as quickly as possible, but such an approach heightens long-term risk, slows down innovation, undermines flexibility, and results in hard-to-manage silos, which in turn increase operational complexity and cost.
The success of your 5G network will, of course, hinge on your ability to disaggregate your networks, roll out new services, and operate at a faster pace and a larger scale with greater efficiency and lower costs.
Using network functions validated by the VMware Ready for Telco Cloud program lets you quickly onboard and deploy multi-vendor VNFs and CNFs to save time, money, and integration work. The program delivers flexibility and automation to accelerate your 5G deployments, benefit from cloud-native technology, and simplify your networks. In addition, if you are a VMware partner, you can bring your network functions to market faster and speed up their deployment in 4G and 5G networks.
Learn more about our most recent addition to the VMware Ready for Telco Cloud family in the announcement sharing the news that the Arrcus ACE platform is now certified through the program. This expanded partnership enables CSPs to accelerate the deployment of their 5G workloads.
To learn more about the growing ecosystem, check out Velocity with Variety: The VMware Ready for Telco Cloud Program Surpasses 275 Certified Network Functions.