RAN 5G and 6G Telco Cloud

VMware Powers RAN Disaggregation with Modernization Option

Legacy purpose-built hardware stacks for radio access networks (RAN) can leave telecommunications companies stuck with high operational costs and a lack of agility that undermines the transition to 5G networks and their ambitions to increase profitability. Transitioning to a 5G network requires sizable investments, no doubt, but there is a certain irony in continuing an overreliance on purpose-built hardware that makes it difficult to garner a return on those investments.  

Disaggregation is the antidote. Why? It lets you rapidly deploy, efficiently manage, and effectively manipulate a heterogeneous telecommunications network at scale. Disaggregation enables you to lower the cost of deploying and operating a 5G network by using flexible virtualization and agile cloud-native technology:

  • Disaggregated RAN functions can be instantiated on a horizontal platform and deployed at the locations that best serve their functional purposes.
  • Cloud-native network functions (CNFs) can be managed efficiently at scale and readily manipulated to turn business objectives into productive outcomes.

A horizontal platform makes disaggregation an operational reality: The use of a horizontally consistent architecture that supports cloud-native principles fosters the construction of logical end-to-end networks tailored to different 5G services. 

The Path of RAN Modernization

Such a horizontal platform clears the path to RAN modernization by enabling you to move from traditional purpose-built RAN hardware stacks to virtualized RAN now and start to move in the direction of open RAN when you are ready — without disrupting your operations or overhauling your network’s design. Open RAN further disaggregates the RAN so it can be operated and managed with efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Principles like modularity, automation, and replicability become the operational norm.

VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN delivers a horizontal platform optimized for running virtualized baseband functions or virtualized distributed units (vDUs) and virtualized central units (vCUs) from various vendors while meeting the stringent performance and latency requirements of radio access networks. And you can efficiently manage RAN functions with agility by using cloud-native technology. 

VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN 4.0 is a major milestone — it combines the flexibility of virtualization with the power of cloud-native capabilities to drive operational efficiency and business agility. More importantly, the optimized packaging and deployment options of the VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN product let you pursue the path to modernization that best matches your requirements. Optional add-ons for bare-metal automation and service management and orchestration give you the power to serve up the capabilities that you need now or in the future.   

Optimized Packaging with Add-Ons to Match Your Requirements 

Without additional packages, VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN provides a lean product for radio access networks while enabling you to access powerful CaaS automation capabilities, including Dynamic Infrastructure Policies. As such, the VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN package includes the CaaS LCM Enabler and the CaaS Dynamic Infrastructure Policies Integrator, both of which are necessary to optionally integrate with third-party management and orchestration systems. The CaaS LCM Enabler and CaaS Dynamic Infrastructure Policies Integrator are to be delivered in the form of documentation, scripts, and Kubernetes Operators but are subject to variability and availability in relation to the requirements and timelines of customers and their projects and partners.

Add-On for Bare Metal Automation

VMware Bare Metal Automation is an add-on component that performs initial zero-touch provisioning of physical servers to speed up the deployment of RAN sites. This component functions as a bare-metal provisioning tool to the point of the VMware hypervisor installation—bootstrapping the server and installing the software and firmware that the automation and orchestration capabilities of VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN require to start the CaaS automation processes.

Optional Add-On for Service Management and Orchestration 

The VMware Service Management and Orchestration (SMO) framework automates the deployment, management, and optimization of radio access networks at scale. This optional SMO add-on includes automation and assurance services as well the non-real-time RAN Intelligent Controller from VMware. 

The Service Management and Orchestration solution speeds up the deployment of a multi-vendor RAN, increases flexibility, and lets you tailor customer experiences in a dynamic, multi-cloud environment by encompassing three key functional areas: 

  • Automation and orchestration
  • Assurance and observability
  • Analytics and optimization

In addition, our near-real-time RAN Intelligence Controller, called VMware Distributed RIC, can be purchased separately to run xApps that help manage and optimize a radio access network. 

What’s New

This release includes key features and enhancements to improve performance, user experience, operability, and scale. For instance, multi-tenancy provides tenant awareness of automation resources. In addition, various key features are introduced as part of VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid 2.5. 

By virtualizing the CPU’s C-state parameter, VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN provides direct control to RAN workloads (vDU and vCU) to adjust the CPU sleep states based on the actual traffic load. This capability optimizes power consumption at cell sites. Furthermore, the reduction of the VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN footprint maximizes resources allocated for RAN workloads in resource-constrained far-edge environments.

Finally, this release includes support — as a technical preview — for the 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable Processors, formerly known as Sapphire Rapids. For radio access networks, these Intel processors improve performance, reduce power consumption, and lower your total cost of ownership through the built-in accelerator, vRAN Boost.

Enhancements in the Add-Ons

The Workflow Hub capability in the SMO add-on lets you create multi-cloud workloads by using a CI/CD pipeline to rapidly develop, connect, test, deploy, and manage VNFs and CNFs. Workflow Hub can integrate with various VMware Telco Cloud products as well as third-party tools. Workflow Hub enables you to easily define repeatable workflows that are less error-prone and require less manual intervention so you can save time and reduce operating expenses. Similarly, GitOps integration furthers cloud-native network automation and orchestration.

Disaggregate to Innovate

A horizontal RAN platform establishes a fabric for innovation by letting you adopt a multi-vendor approach to modernizing your network. Ultimately, the success of your 5G network will hinge on your ability to disaggregate your networks, roll out new services, and operate efficiently at scale. 

The VMware RAN ecosystem helps you quickly onboard and deploy network functions and applications from multiple vendors to save time, money, and integration work. Recent collaborations with key partners like Mavenir have resulted in a commercially proven, operationally ready Open vRAN solution, while virtualization of vRAN network functions by NEC on VMware Telco Cloud Platform underscores our commitment to scalable and efficient network transformation. The program — especially when it’s combined with the VMware SMO framework — delivers flexibility and automation to accelerate your RAN deployments, simplify your multi-vendor network, and optimize your RAN. In addition, if you are a VMware partner, you can bring your network functions, xApps, and rApps to market faster and speed up their deployment in radio access networks.

The new features and enhancements in this milestone release add power and depth to the platform’s existing capabilities so that you can disaggregate your RAN, efficiently operate it at scale, match the platform’s capabilities to your requirements, gain the flexibility to introduce multiple vendors and spur innovation, and drive your telecommunications company toward its business objectives with agility. 

How can we help you disaggregate your radio access network to ignite agility and innovation? Find out more at https://telco.vmware.com/products/telco-cloud-platform-ran.html