More and more businesses are moving operations to the cloud, and they’re doing so for a variety of reasons. Ease of access to data, speed of processing, and easier deployment of updates to name a few. Businesses in the telecommunications (telco) industry are no exception. Complex traditional architectures are becoming increasingly inefficient, and providers are starting to see the need for change.
Communications service providers (CoSP) are moving operations historically performed with hardware into the cloud using network functions virtualization (NFV). By removing the need for dedicated network appliances, providers can make operations more efficient and more agile.
Beyond the initial migration of physical to virtual, virtualized applications can now be cloud ready, meaning they can scale out and in on a cloud environment. That move to the cloud is a good step, but the industry isn’t yet moving the next step to cloud native. Cloud native means applications are built for the hyperscale cloud, not just adapted for it. When software is designed for the cloud, it is designed in a way that allows resilient application services to run on non-reliable platforms. As a result, cloud native NFV helps CoSP achieve operational efficiency gains, resource efficiency gains, and quicker time to service delivery.
To move to cloud native more quickly, industry collaboration is needed between telecommunications companies, cloud service providers, software development companies, system integrators (who assist in multivendor integration and transformation processes), and technology providers like Intel.
Cloud Native NFV Benefits the Telco Industry and 5G
The telecommunications industry aims to deliver its services to customers faster and more cost-effectively. Cloud native can play a key role in helping providers achieve this goal. Not only does cloud native deliver services faster, it also enables more agile processes. That agility is important, particularly for reducing operational costs. When network functions move to cloud native, updates can be rolled out far more quickly because they are deployed using decomposed software functionality, which is better suited for in-service upgrades. There’s no need to replace or upgrade physical hardware, which takes significant amounts of time and manpower.
In addition to providing direct benefits to CoSP and customers now, cloud native NFV can also facilitate the transition to 5G and allow this next generation of network communications to function optimally.
The transition to cloud native is already happening, but a faster transition would bring these benefits to the industry sooner. Unfortunately, many CoSP don’t have the skills needed to make this adjustment quickly. Company culture can also resist change. To really accelerate the transition, multiple industries will need to come together.
Speed Up the Transition With Industry Collaboration
A successful cloud native transition will require a joint effort. If the cloud and communications industries work together, the changes will be easier for everyone. Public cloud providers can be prepared to assist CoSP with the transition, and they can also make sure they have modern data center technology to support these changes.
Companies with expertise in cloud native development and on-boarding on public cloud such as Google, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azure can also support CoSP, who will need cloud native applications.
A smooth rollout will also require industry leaders to help spot potential issues. Intel partners such as China Mobile, Vodafone, and Telefónica are already testing out Intel NFV technology in the field.
How Intel Is Enabling Cloud Native
Cloud native technology will dramatically change telecommunications, similar to the way it has changed other enterprise and government industries who also started cloud migrations. As a technology provider, we at Intel are positioned to help facilitate the transition and participate in this multiplayer collaboration.
The first step: We need to help CoSP recognize whether they’re cloud native or not. To do this, they’ll need to assess their software application ecosystems using criteria established by the enterprise cloud, which has already gone through a similar migration. Then we must re-architect application software, taking into consideration how best to do this while also ensuring we enable the network performance required for telecommunications core network functions. Additionally, we can help enable virtualized network function (VNF) vendors accelerate their plans to be cloud native.
Next, we need to look at infrastructure. Intel can help the industry determine how to integrate software acceleration and hardware accelerators in a standardized way, so they can be used by cloud native applications without creating dependencies.
Beyond virtualizing existing functions and helping CoSP get cloud ready, we’re also helping communications service providers apply cloud native principles in a variety of ways, including:
- Optimizing infrastructure for data plane and workload placement
- Separating functionalities into small, lighter containers
- Re-architecting applications to make them resilient so that they can deliver critical KPIs even during network delays
Those in the communications industry can also take advantage of the Intel Network Builders Ecosystem, where they can learn how different players in the industry are coming together to speed up the adoption of NFV and cloud native. This ecosystem also provides educational resources to help with the transition.