Survey data and discussions with enterprise networking professionals reveal they are still grappling with many networking issues spawned by the expansion of the cloud – the most common of which include securing connections for remote work, implementing zero-trust security strategies, and integrating myriad cloud and wide-area networks (WANs).
For example, in Futuriom’s latest survey of 196 enterprise IT and networking professionals, more than 80% said the complexity of connecting the wide variety of networks was a large challenge. At nearly 70% of responses, expertise and knowledge was the second-largest challenge (multiple responses were allowed), and cost was cited by 60%. Please refer to survey highlights below.
Contributing to that complexity is the ephemeral nature of both cloud connectivity and hybrid work. Workers are now moving around more than ever, and cloud services can change and scale nearly every day (or minute).
- Survey respondents indicate strong demand for SD-WAN and SASE managed services. Our survey data and discussions with end users indicate that SD-WAN/SASE technology helps professionals with network and security challenges, including the growing complexity created by distributed applications, cloud connectivity, and sprawling security risks.
- Managing network complexity is the largest challenge driving managed services demand. When asked about the largest challenges in managing WANs, 85% of respondents identified complexity, followed by expertise and knowledge (68%). Rounding out the responses were cost (60%) and time (47%). (Multiple responses were allowed.)
- Hybrid work and the need for zero-trust network access (ZTNA) are key drivers of SD-WAN/SASE technology. In the survey, 98% of respondents said that hybrid work has increased demand for SASE and ZTNA. When we asked respondents if ZTNA is a crucial component of SASE and SD-WAN offerings, 92% said yes.
- Hybrid (cloud/edge deployment) and single-pass architectures will be important components of SASE/SD-WAN services going forward. When respondents were asked if they wanted a hybrid solution that can accommodate networking and security both on premises and using cloud points of presence (PoPs), 98% said yes. In addition, 94% of respondents said they prefer a single-pass architecture.
- There will continue to be a diversity of SD-WAN/SASE deployment models. The two most popular models for deployment are best-of-breed combination (34%) and single-vendor (23%), but survey results show a wide diversity of deployment models.
AI increases complexity as enterprises need to figure out how to store, connect, and move their data in hybrid clouds that will leverage AI.
This complexity, along with the rapid shift to hybrid work spurred by COVID, has triggered a wave of innovation in networking – perhaps more innovation than we have seen in decades. Startups are drawing large funding rounds. Best-of-breed established networking players such as Arista Networks, Extreme Networks, Juniper Networks, and HPE are building new networking and security products and chipping away at the market share of market leader Cisco. Cisco is responding in kind. Sources tell me they think Cisco’s acquisition of Valtix may be the most interesting in years.
All of this sets the stage for the most dynamic networking environment I’ve seen in decades. And it’s only going to get more interesting, as the AI and hybrid work wave makes networking more crucial.
The melding of security and networking remains hot. In the software-defined networking (SD-WAN) and Secure Access Service Edge market, potential Initial Public Offering (IPO) companies such as Aryaka Networks, Cato Networks, and Versa Networks are building our product suites to help secure remote workers and cloud connectivity. These companies will also help enterprises connect to cloud on-ramps and consolidate security functions with a SASE approach. Versa last October tanked up with $120 in funding in what it called a “pre-IPO round.”
Many of the cloud networking startups that are included in the Futuriom 50 list of promising cloud innovators are using this chaotic moment to shore up strategies, raise money — or both.
For example, just this week, cloud-native networking start-up Arrcus announced that Hitachi Ventures would invest additional capital, raising its Series D to $65 million before it closes. Arrcus says its Arrcus Connected Edge (ACE) platform will be more economical for cloud providers and service providers deploying services such as 5G and AI. It claims it is growing revenue 100% year-over-year.
Other cloud networking startups are also going after AI. DriveNets recently announced that its Network Cloud-AI solution, which uses cloud-based Ethernet-based networking to boost the performance of AI clouds, is in trials with major hyperscalers.
Cost optimization, one of the strongest themes of the year in cloud technology, is another focus for cloud networking players. Cloud networking pioneer Aviatrix has beefed up security and cost-optimization features and launched a distributed firewall to help enterprises reduce the costs of cloud networking infrastructure. Prosimo last week made an interesting play to get its application-layer cloud networking suite in the hands of more users by launching a free, introductory-level version of its product called MCN Foundation.
Yes, there is a trend to all these announcements. They are focused on return on investment (ROI) and cost savings. This is the right message for the era we are in. Enterprise tech planners not only want to shift to more flexible cloud-based services, they need to do so to save money.
For example, in its new product release, Prosimo said customers can achieve a 30%-50% reduction in total cost of ownership (TCO) by optimizing cloud network connectivity. With its distributed firewall, Aviatrix says network pros will save money by reducing the expense of additional firewall instances, which many enterprises must buy to support additional cloud connectivity and scaling. (But they may not want to stack firewall upon firewall into the cloud, which after all can function as a firewall itself.) DriveNets says its trials have reduced the idle time of AI clouds by as much as 30%.
Integrating all of this stuff isn’t easy either. That’s the value proposition of Itential, a plucky Georgia-based startup with a set of low-code automation tools that streamline networking for integrations in hybrid networking and cloud environments.
It’s no coincidence that the marketing messages have all shifted toward ROI, which is the mother’s milk of technology. It’s the reason we all use cloud-based software-as-a-service and iPhones instead of minicomputers and rotary dial phones. Innovation is about efficiency.
This makes me very optimistic about cloud networking – and the networking market in general. After decades of stagnation, the cloud has woken up the industry. In addition to innovation, there is also a surge in competition — which will put more efficient and affordable technology into the hands of the users.
Allied Market Research: Global AI in telecom market forecast to reach $38.8 by 2031 with CAGR of 41.4% (from 2022 to 2031)
The adoption of cloud-native methodologies, processes and tools has been a challenge for communications service providers (CSPs), aka telcos or network operators.
- Telcos are embracing cloud-native processes and tools
- It’s part of their evolution towards being digital service providers
- But the cloud-native journey is still in its early stages
- Real cultural change is needed if telcos are to capitalise fully on the cloud-native opportunities
Alongside a a session, Why cloud native is essential to delivering the automation, agility and innovation needed to support new services, at Telco TV’s DSP Leaders World Forum event in Windsor, UK, a poll was taken. The following question was asked, “How can Digital Service Providers maximize the cloud-native opportunities?” Respondents were able to select all the options they deemed relevant. Here are the results:
Please check out the upcoming Cloud Native Telco Summit session on cloud-native application development to see what the industry experts have to say.
Omdia and Ericsson on telco transitioning to cloud native network functions (CNFs) and 5G SA core networks
China Telecom do Brasil (“CTB”) today announced the launch of eSurfing Cloud services in Brazil. Through on-demand purchases that aim to simplify the process for more targeted service, the new offering provides businesses with the flexibility of accessing public and private cloud services, combined with the security and control of private cloud.
CTB’s eSurfing Cloud services enable enterprises in Brazil to take advantage of the latest cloud technologies, with the added benefit of local support and expertise. With this new offering, businesses in Brazil can optimize their cloud environments, reduce costs, and improve efficiency, all while maintaining high levels of security and compliance. The eSurfing Cloud services in São Paulo will allow customers to connect on a global multi-cloud network of more than nine public cloud nodes, 30 proprietary edge cloud nodes, and more than 200 CDN nodes.
“We are excited to bring our world-class cloud solutions to businesses in Brazil,” said Luis Fiallo, the officer of China Telecom do Brasil. “Our eSurfing Cloud services deliver flexible and scalable solutions that can meet the unique evolving needs of businesses in the region. The launch of this new offering is our continued commitment to helping our customers achieve their business goals and succeed in today’s digital landscape.”
Brazil is one of the most active cloud markets in Latin America, with high demand for the critical services that connect LATAM to the global market. Cloud adoption in Brazil has increased nearly 40% since 2019 and is expected to grow nearly 19% by 2033. While eSurfing Cloud provides customers with access to public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, and edge cloud, its advantages in cloud-network integration, security, and extensive customization make it the choice digital transformation accelerator for businesses of any size.
About China Telecom do Brasil:
China Telecom do Brasil is the largest subsidiary of China Telecom Americas in Latin America and a leading provider of Internet and cloud computing services in Brazil. With a focus on customer satisfaction, the company delivers reliable, scalable, and secure solutions that enable businesses to connect their networks within Brazil and internationally, while thriving in today’s digital landscape. The company is the largest Chinese Internet provider in Brazil with network POPs and backbone connecting the state of Sao Paulo, State of Rio De Janeiro, State of Parana and State of Rio Grande do Sul to the China Telecom global network.
SOURCE: China Telecom Americas
China Telecom still banned in U.S.:
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has raised mounting concerns about Chinese telecom companies in recent years which had won permission to operate in the United States decades ago. On October 26, 2021 the FCC revoked and terminated China Telecom America’s authority to provide Telecom Services in America. The FCC said that China Telecom (Americas) “is subject to exploitation, influence and control by the Chinese government.”
On December 20, 2022, a U.S. federal appeals court rejected China Telecom Corp’s challenge to the order withdrawing the company’s authority to provide services in the United States.
Swiss network operator Swisscom have announced a proof-of-concept (PoC) collaboration with Ericsson 5G SA Core running on AWS. The objective is to explore hybrid cloud use cases with AWS, beginning with 5G core applications. The plan is for more applications to then gradually be added as the trial continues. With each cloud strategy (private, public, hybrid, multi) bringing its own drivers and challenges the idea here seems to be enabling the operator to take advantage of the specific characteristics of both hybrid and public cloud.
The PoC reconfirms Swisscom and Ericsson’s view of the potential hybrid cloud has as a complement to existing private cloud infrastructure. Both Swisscom and Ericsson are on a common journey with AWS to explore how use cases can benefit telecom operators.
The PoC will examine use cases that take advantage of the particular characteristics of hybrid and public cloud. In particular, the flexibility and elasticity it can offer to customers which can mean deployment efficiencies for use cases where capacity is not constantly needed. An example of this could be when maintenance activities are undertaken in Swisscom’s private cloud, or when there are traffic peaks, AWS can be used to offload and complement the private cloud.
Swisscom had already been collaborating with AWS on migrating its 5G infrastructure towards standalone 5G. In addition, it has also used the hyperscaler’s public cloud platform for its IT environments. Telco concerns linger [1.] around the use of public cloud in telecoms infrastructure (especially the core networks) for some operators, hybrid cloud is seemingly gaining momentum as a transitional approach.
Note 1. Telco concerns over public cloud:
- In a recent survey by Telecoms.com more than four in five industry respondents feared security concerns over running telco applications in the public cloud, including 37% who find it hard to make the business case for public cloud as private cloud remains vital in addressing security issues. This also means that any efficiency gains are offset by the IT environment and the network running over two cloud types.
- Many in the industry also fear vendor lock-in and lack of orchestration from public cloud providers. Around a third of industry experts from the same survey find it a compelling reason not to embrace and move workloads to the public cloud unless applications can run on all versions of public cloud and are portable among cloud vendors.
- There’s also a lack of interoperability and interconnectedness with public clouds. The services of different public cloud vendors are indeed not interconnected nor interoperable for the same types of workloads. This concern is one of the drivers to avoid public cloud, according to some network operators.
–>PLEASE SEE THE COMMENT ON THIS TOPIC IN THE BOX BELOW THE ARTICLE.
Mark Düsener, Executive Vice President Mobile Network & Services at Swisscom, says: “By bringing the Ericsson 5G Core onto AWS we will substantially change the way our networks will be built and operated. The elasticity of the cloud in combination with a new magnitude in automatization will support us in delivering even better quality more efficiently over time. In order to shape this new concept, we as Swisscom believe strategic and deep partnerships like the ones we have with Ericsson and AWS are the key for success.”
Monica Zethzon, Head of Solution Area Core Networks, Ericsson says: “5G innovation requires deep collaboration to create the foundations necessary for new and evolving use cases. This Proof-of-Concept project with Swisscom and AWS is about opening up the routes to innovation by using hybrid cloud’s flexible combination of private and public cloud resources. It demonstrates that through partnership, we can deliver a hybrid cloud solution which meets strict telecoms industry requirements and security while making best use of HCP agility and cloud economy of scale.”
Fabio Cerone, General Manager AWS Telco EMEA at AWS, says: “With this move, Swisscom is opening the door to cloud native networks, delivering full automation and elasticity at scale, with the ability to innovate faster and make 5G impactful to their customers. We are committed to working closely with partners, such as Ericsson, to explore new use cases and strategies that best support the needs of customers like Swisscom.”
“How to deploy software in different cloud environments – at a high level, it is hard making that work in practice,” said Per Narvinger, the head of Ericsson’s cloud software and services unit. “You have hyperscalers with their offering and groups trying to standardize and people trying to do it their own way. There needs to be harmonization of what is wanted.”
AWS Telco Network Builder: managed network automation service to deploy, run, and scale telco networks on AWS
Omdia and Ericsson on telco transitioning to cloud native network functions (CNFs) and 5G SA core networks
Cloud adoption among organizations has increased dramatically over the past few years, both in the range of services used and the extent to which they are employed. However, network builders tend to overlook the vulnerabilities of network topologies, which leads to complications down the road, especially since the structures of cloud network topologies are not all of the same quality. To help organizations build a network design that suits their current needs and future state, global IT research and advisory firm Info-Tech Research Group has published its latest advisory deck, Considerations for a Hub and Spoke Model When Deploying Infrastructure in the Cloud.
The new research deck states that for organizations considering migrating their resources to the cloud, careful planning and decision making is required. This includes selecting the right topology, designing the cloud infrastructure for efficient management, and providing access to shared services. The advisory deck further highlights that one of the main challenges of cloud infrastructure planning is finding the right balance between governance and flexibility, which is often overlooked.
“Evaluating and selecting the right cloud network topology is crucial for optimizing performance. It also enables easier management and resource provisioning,” says Nitin Mukesh, senior research analyst at Info-Tech Research Group. “An ‘as the need arises’ strategy will not work efficiently since network design changes can significantly impact data flows and application architectures, which becomes more complicated as the number of cloud-hosted services grows. Designing a network strategy early on will give more control over networks and prevent the need for significant infrastructure changes later.”
Info-Tech’s research indicates that when organizations move to the cloud, many often retain the mesh networking topology from their on-prem design, or they choose to implement the mesh design using peering technologies in the cloud without considering the potential changes in business needs. Although there are various network topologies for on-prem infrastructure, the network design team may not be aware of the best approach in cloud platforms for their requirements, or a cloud networking strategy may even go overlooked during the migration.
The new resource explores a hub and spoke model for organizations deciding between governance and flexibility in network design. A hub and spoke network design involves connecting multiple networks to a central network, or a hub, that facilitates intercommunication between them. The hub can be used by multiple workloads for hosting services and managing external connectivity.
Other networks connected to the hub through network peering are called spokes and host workloads. Communications between workloads, servers, or services on the spokes pass through the hub, where they are inspected and routed. The spokes can be centrally managed from the hub using IT rules and processes. This design allows for a larger number of virtual networks to be interconnected, with only one peered connection needed to communicate with any other network in the system.
Organizations that choose to deploy the hub and spoke model face a dilemma in choosing between governance and flexibility for their networks. Info-Tech recommends that organizations consider the following design options when developing a cloud network strategy:
- PEERING: Peering Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs) into a mesh design can be an easy way to get onto the cloud, but it shouldn’t be the networking strategy for the long run.
- HUB AND SPOKE: Hub and spoke network design offers more benefits than any other network strategy to be adopted only when the need arises. Organizations should plan for the design and strategize to deploy it as early as possible.
- HYBRID: A mesh and hub and spoke hybrid can be instrumental in connecting multiple large networks, especially when they need to access the same resources without having to route the traffic over the internet.
- GOVERNANCE VS. FLEXIBILITY: Governance vs. flexibility should be a key consideration when designing for hub and spoke to leverage the best out of the infrastructure.
- DOMAINS: Distribute domains across the hub or spokes to leverage costs, security, data collection, and economies of scale and foster secure interactions between networks.
The firm advises that the advantages of using a hub and spoke model far exceed those of using a mesh topology in the cloud. However, organizations, especially large ones, are complex entities, and choosing only one model may not serve all business needs. In such cases, a hybrid approach may be the best strategy.
To learn more, download the complete Considerations for a Hub and Spoke Model When Deploying Infrastructure in the Cloud advisory deck.
Info-Tech Research Group is one of the world’s leading information technology research and advisory firms, proudly serving over 30,000 IT professionals. The company produces unbiased and highly relevant research to help CIOs and IT leaders make strategic, timely, and well-informed decisions. For 25 years, Info-Tech has partnered closely with IT teams to provide them with everything they need, from actionable tools to analyst guidance, ensuring they deliver measurable results for their organizations.
Media professionals can register for unrestricted access to research across IT, HR, and software and over 200 IT and Industry analysts through the ITRG Media Insiders Program. To gain access, contact [email protected].
SOURCE Info-Tech Research Group
Canalys now expects that by 2025, cloud marketplaces will grow to more than $45 billion, representing an 84% CAGR. That was one of the market research firm’s predictions for 2023 and beyond (see chart below).
Cloud marketplaces [1.] are accelerating as a route to market for technology, led by hyperscale cloud vendors such as Alibaba, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Google and Salesforce, which are pouring billions of development dollars into the sector.
Note 1. A cloud marketplace is an online storefront operated by a cloud service provider. A cloud marketplace provides customers with access to software applications and services that are built on, integrate with or complement the cloud service provider’s offerings. A marketplace typically provides customers with native cloud applications and approved apps created by third-party developers. Applications from third-party developers not only help the cloud provider fill niche gaps in its portfolio and meet the needs of more customers, but they also provide the customer with peace of mind by knowing that all purchases from the vendor’s marketplace will integrate with each other smoothly.
“The marketplace route to market is on fire and cannot be ignored by any channel leader,” said Canalys Chief Analyst, Jay McBain. “Marketplaces grew more in the first three months of the pandemic than in the previous decade and have just kept growing,” he added.
“We under-called it,” explained Steven Kiernan, vice president at Canalys. “Cloud marketplaces are accelerating at such a dizzying speed that we’ve doubled our pre-pandemic forecast.
Some software vendors that are active on marketplaces, in particular cybersecurity vendors, are publicly reporting as much as 600% year-on-year growth via this channel, according to McBain.
In addition, the hyperscalers are now reporting growing numbers of billion-dollar customer commitments through enterprise cloud consumption credits, which cover more than just software.
The large cloud marketplaces have lowered fees from upwards of 20% down to 3%, enabling vendors to fund multi-partner offers inside the transaction.
Private equity is funding billions more into marketplace development firms such as AppDirect, Mirakl, Vendasta and CloudBlue to enable hundreds of niche marketplaces across different buyers, industries, geographies, customer segments, product areas and business models.
Canalys Chief Analyst, Alastair Edwards:
“The rise of this route to market represents a threat to both resellers and two-tier distribution. But as more complex technologies are consumed via marketplaces, end customers are also turning to trusted partners to help them discover, procure and manage marketplace purchases. The hyperscalers are increasingly recognizing the value of channel partners, allowing them to create customized vendor offers for end-customers, and supporting the flow of channel margins through their marketplaces. Hyperscalers’ cloud marketplaces are becoming a growing force in global IT distribution as a result.”
By 2025, Canalys conservatively forecasts that almost a third of marketplace procurement will be done via channel partners on behalf of their end customers.
Canalys key predictions for 2023 and beyond:
Canalys is an independent analyst company that strives to guide clients on the future of the technology industry and to think beyond the business models of the past. We deliver smart market insights to IT, channel and service provider professionals around the world. We stake our reputation on the quality of our data, our innovative use of technology and our high level of customer service.
IDC: Cloud Infrastructure Spending +13.5% YoY in 4Q-2021 to $21.1 billion; Forecast CAGR of 12.6% from 2021-2026
Microsoft announced it has acquired Lumenisity® Limited, a leader in next-generation hollow core fiber (HCF) solutions. Lumenisity’s innovative and industry-leading HCF product can enable fast, reliable and secure networking for global, enterprise and large-scale organizations.
The acquisition will expand Microsoft’s ability to further optimize its global cloud infrastructure and serve Microsoft’s Cloud Platform and Services customers with strict latency and security requirements. The technology can provide benefits across a broad range of industries including healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, retail and government.
Organizations within these sectors could see significant benefit from HCF solutions as they rely on networks and datacenters that require high-speed transactions, enhanced security, increased bandwidth and high-capacity communications. For the public sector, HCF could provide enhanced security and intrusion detection for federal and local governments across the globe. In healthcare, because HCF can accommodate the size and volume of large data sets, it could help accelerate medical image retrieval, facilitating providers’ ability to ingest, persist and share medical imaging data in the cloud. And with the rise of the digital economy, HCF could help international financial institutions seeking fast, secure transactions across a broad geographic region.
Types of Hollow Core Fiber:
Various types of hollow-core photonic bandgap fibers:
(a) Photonic crystal fiber featuring small hollow core surrounded by a periodic array of large air holes.
(b) Microstructured fiber featuring medium-sized hollow core surrounded by several rings of small air holes separated by nano-size bridges.
(c) Bragg fiber featuring large hollow core surrounded by a periodic sequence of high and low refractive index layers
Lumenisity HCF benefits:
Lumenisity’s hollow core fiber technology replaces the standard glass core in a fiber cable with an air-filled chamber. According to Microsoft, light travels through air 47% faster than glass. Lumenisity’s next generation of HCF uses a proprietary design where light propagates in an air core, which has significant advantages over traditional cable built with a solid core of glass, including:
- Increased overall speed and lower latency as light travels through HCF 47% faster than standard silica glass.
- Enhanced security and intrusion detection due to Lumenisity’s innovative inner structure.
- Lower costs, increased bandwidth and enhanced network quality due to elimination of fiber nonlinearities and broader spectrum.
- Potential for ultra-low signal loss enabling deployment over longer distances without repeaters.
Lumenisity was formed in 2017 as a spinoff from the world-renowned Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton to commercialize breakthroughs in the development of hollow core optical fiber. In 2021 and 2022, the company won the Best Fibre Component Product for their NANF® CoreSmart® HCF cable in the European Conference on Optical Communication (ECOC) Exhibition Industry Awards. As part of the Lumenisity acquisition, Microsoft plans to utilize the organization’s technology and team of industry-leading experts to accelerate innovations in networking and infrastructure.
Lumenisity said: “We are proud to be acquired by a company with a shared vision that will accelerate our progress in the hollow-core space. This is the end of the beginning, and we are excited to start our new chapter as part of Microsoft to fulfill this technology’s full potential and continue our pursuit of unlocking new capabilities in communication networks.”
The purchase is also noteworthy in light of Microsoft’s other recent acquisitions in the telecommunications sector, which include Affirmed Networks, Metaswitch Networks and AT&T’s core network operations (including 5G SA Core Network).
Microsoft isn’t the only company interested in HCF technology and Lumenisity. Both BT in the UK and Comcast in the US have tested Lumenisity’s offerings.
Comcast announced in April it was able to support speeds in the range of 10 Gbit/s to 400 Gbit/s over a 40km “hybrid” connection in Philadelphia that utilized legacy fiber and the new hollow core fiber. Comcast worked with Lumenisity.
“As we continue to develop and deploy technology to deliver 10G, multigigabit performance to tens of millions of homes, hollow core fiber will help to ensure that the network powering those experiences is among the most advanced and highest performing in the world,” said Comcast networking chief Elad Nafshi in the release issued in April.
Telco cloud has evolved from the much hyped (but commercially failed) NFV/Virtual Network Functions or VNFs and classical SDN architectures, to today’s more robust platforms for managing virtualized and cloud-native network functions that are tailored to the needs of telecom network workloads. This shift is bringing many new participants to the rapidly evolving telco cloud [1.] landscape.
Note 1. In this instance, “telco cloud” means running telco network functions, including 5G SA Core network on a public, private, or hybrid cloud platform. It does NOT imply that telcos are going to be cloud service providers (CSPs) and compete with Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud, IBM, Alibaba and other established CSPs. Telcos gave up on that years ago and sold most of their own data centers which they intended to make cloud resident.
In its recent Telco Cloud Evolution Survey 2022, Omdia (owned by Informa) found that both public and private cloud technology specialists are shaping this evolution. In July 2022, Omdia surveyed 49 senior operations and IT decision makers among telecom operator. Their report reveals their top-of-mind priorities, optimism, and strategies for migrating network workloads to private and public cloud.
Transitioning from VNFs to CNFs:
The existing implementations of telco cloud mostly take the virtualization technologies used in datacenter environments and apply them to telco networks. Because telcos always demand “telco-grade” network infrastructure, this virtualization of network functions is supported through a standard reference architecture for management and network orchestration (MANO) defined by ETSI. The traditional framework was defined for virtual machines (VMs) and network functions which were to be packaged as software equivalents (called network appliances) to run as instances of VMs. Therefore, a network function can be visualized as a vertically integrated stack consisting of proprietary virtualization infrastructure management (often based on OpenStack) and software packages for network functions delivered as monolithic applications on top. No one likes to admit, but the reality is that NFV has been a colossal commercial failure.
The VNFs were “lift & shift” so were hard to configure, update, test, and scale. Despite AT&T’s much publicized work, VNFs did not help telcos to completely decouple applications from specific hardware requirements. The presence of highly specific infrastructure components makes resource pooling quite difficult. In essence, the efficiencies telcos expected from virtualization have not yet been delivered.
The move to cloud native network functions (CNFs) aims to solve this problem. The softwardized network functions are delivered as modern software applications that adhere to cloud native principles. What this means is applications are designed independent of the underlying hardware and platforms. Secondly, each functionality within an application is delivered as a separate microservice that can be patched independently. Kubernetes manages the deployment, scaling, and operations of these microservices that are hosted in containers.
5G Core leads telcos’ network workload containerization efforts:
The benefits of cloud-native are driving telcos to implement network functions as containerized workloads. This has been realized in cloud native 5G SA core networks (5G Core), the architecture of which is specified in 3GPP Release 16. A key finding from the Telco Cloud Evolution Survey 2022, was that over 60% of the survey respondents picked 5G core to be run as containerized workloads. The vendor ecosystem is maturing fast to support the expectations of telecom operators. Most leading network equipment providers (NEPs) have built 5G core as cloud-native applications.
Which network functions do/will you require to be packaged in containers? (Select all that apply):
This overwhelming response from the Omnia survey respondents is indicative of their growing interest in hosting network functions in cloud environments. However, there remain several important issues and questions telcos need to think about which we now examine:
The most challenging and frequent question is whether telcos should run 5G core functions and workloads in public cloud (Dish Network and AT&T) or in their own private cloud infrastructure (T-Mobile)? The choice is influenced by multiple factors including understanding the total cost of running network functions in public vs private cloud, complying with data regulatory requirements, resilience and scalability of infrastructure, maturity of cloud platforms and tools, as well as ease of management and orchestration of resources across distributed environments.
Ericsson says the adoption of cloud-native technology and the new 5G SA Core network architecture will impact six strategic domains of a telco network, each of which must be addressed and resolved during the telco’s cloud native transformation journey: Cloud infrastructure, 5G Core, 5G voice, automation and orchestration, operations and life cycle management, and security.
In the latest version of Ericsson’s cloud-native 5G Core network guide (published December 6, 2022), the vendor has identified five key insights for service providers transitioning to a cloud native 5G SA core network:
- Cloud-native transformation is a catalyst for business transformation. Leading service providers make it clear they view the transformation to cloud-native as a driver for the modernization of the rest of their business. The company’s ability to bring new products and solutions to market faster should be regarded as being of equal importance to the network investment.
- Clear strategy and planning for cloud-native transformation is paramount. Each individual service provider’s cloud-native transformation journey is different and should be planned accordingly. The common theme is that the complexity of transforming at this scale needs to be recognized, and must not be underestimated. For maximum short-and-long-term impact tailored, effective migration strategies need to be in place in advance. This ensures that investment and execution in this area forms a valuable element of an overall transformation strategy and plan.
- Frontrunners will establish first-mover advantage. Time should be a key factor in driving the plans and strategies for change. Those who start this journey early will be leading the field when they’re able to deploy new functionalities and services. A common frontrunner approach is to start with a greenfield 5G Core deployment to try out ideas and concepts without disrupting the existing network. Additionally, evolving the network will be a dynamic process, and it is crucial to bring application developers and solution vendors into the ecosystem as early as possible to start seeing faster, smoother innovation.
- Major potential for architecture simplifications. The standardization of 5G Core has been based on architecture and learnings from IT. The telecom stack should be simplified by incorporating cloud native principles into it – for example separating the lifecycle management of the network functions from that of the underlying Kubernetes infrastructure. While any transformation needs to balance both new and legacy technologies, there are clear opportunities to simplify the network and operations further by smart investment decisions in three major areas. These are: simplified core application architecture (through dual-mode 5G Core architecture); simplified cloud-native infrastructure stack (through Kubernetes over bare-metal cloud infrastructure architecture); and Automation stack.
- Readiness to automate, operate and lifecycle manage the new platform must be accelerated. Processes requiring manual intervention will not be sufficient for the levels of service expected of cloud-native 5G Core. Network automation and continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) of software will be crucial to launch services with agility or to add new networks capabilities in line with advancing business needs. Ericsson’s customer project experience repeatedly shows us another important aspect of this area of change, telling us that the evolution to cloud-native is more than a knowledge jump or a technological upgrade – it is also a mindset change. The best platform components will not deliver their full potential if teams are not ready to use them.
Monica Zethzon, Head of Solution Area Core Networks, Ericsson said: “The time is now. Service providers need to get ready for the cloud-native transformation that will enable them to reach the full potential of 5G and drive innovation, shaping the future of industries and society. We are proud to be at the forefront of this transformation together with our leading 5G service providers partners. With this guide series we want to share our knowledge and experiences with every service provider in the world to help them preparing for their successful journeys into 5G.”
Ericsson concludes, “The real winners of the 5G era will be the service providers who can transform their core networks to take full advantage of what 5G Standalone (SA) and cloud-native technologies can offer.”
Omdia says another big challenge telcos need to manage is the fragmentation in cloud-native tools and approaches adopted by various technology providers. Again, this is nothing new as telcos have faced and lived through similar situations while evolving to the NFV era. However, the scale and complexity are much bigger as network functions will be distributed, multi-vendor, and deployed across multiple clouds. The need for addressing these gaps by adopting clearly defined specifications (there are no standards for cloud native 5G core) and open-source projects is of utmost importance.
Dell Technologies, together with Wind River (owned by Intel and Delphi Automotive), is introducing a new telecom cloud infrastructure solution to help communications service providers (CSPs) reduce complexity and accelerate their “cloud-native” network deployments.
To facilitate these solutions, Dell’s telecom partner certification program simplifies the process for technology partners to validate and integrate their products within a rapidly growing open technology ecosystem.
Dell Telecom Infrastructure Blocks help accelerate open, cloud-native network deployments. Dell is taking an entirely new approach to solve the complexities of cloud-native network deployments with Dell Telecom Infrastructure Blocks. The fully engineered, cloud-native infrastructure blocks simplify telecom cloud network deployment and management, while accelerating the introduction of new technologies and lowering operational expenses (OpEX).
As the fastest way to deploy the Dell Telecom Multicloud Foundation, launched earlier this year, these blocks include Dell PowerEdge servers, Dell Bare Metal Orchestrator management software, and a CSP’s choice of integrated telecom cloud software platforms, beginning with Wind River Studio.
Dell is the first company to launch a co-engineered system with Wind River, designed and factory integrated to host telecom workloads that can be scaled easily with automation, with streamlined support from Dell for the entire infrastructure stack3. The validated and pre-packaged blocks of hardware and software are designed to meet specific telecom workload requirements and use cases, spanning the network core to Open RAN Distributed Units (DU) and Centralized Units (CU).
Wind River delivers mature production-ready offerings based on proven Wind River Studio technology, live in deployments with leading operators. Wind River Studio provides the Containers-as-a-Service layer for a distributed cloud and the tools to automate and optimize “Day 2” operations at scale.
Holger Mueller of Constellation Research Inc. said today’s partnership with Wind River is all about making it easier for telecommunications firms to go live on Dell’s hardware and services. “What’s really of note is the new partner self-certification program,” the analyst said. “Partner certification can be slow and is normally always very expensive. So unleashing a self-service process for partners can be a huge accelerator, as long as the quality of the certification is not compromised.
Dennis Hoffman, senior vice president and general manager, Dell Technologies Telecom Systems Business:
As the telecom network disaggregates, network operators are challenged to effectively acquire, deploy, test and operate a myriad of open, cloud-native solutions. With our portfolio of software, solutions, development labs and partner programs, including our first open, telecom cloud engineered system with Wind River, a leader in Open RAN deployments, we can partner with communications service providers globally to simplify their transition to cloud-native technologies.
Kevin Dallas, president and chief executive officer, Wind River:
Our collaboration with Dell will help address complex CSP challenges in deploying and managing a physically distributed, ultra-low-latency cloud-native infrastructure for intelligent edge networks. As the de facto infrastructure for OpenRAN and 5G vRAN and only 5G solution that is commercially deployed at scale, Wind River Studio enables flexible networks and offers validated architectures to help service providers quickly and reliably deploy new services with industry-leading total cost of ownership for a cloud native future.
Huawei’s annual flagship event, Huawei Connect 2022 –“Unleash Digital” opened in Bangkok, Thailand today.
- Ken Hu, the Rotating Chairman of Huawei, spoke about the importance of cloud adoption for enterprises to achieve leap-forward development.
- Zhang Ping’an, CEO of Huawei Cloud, announced the launch of two new Huawei Cloud regions in Indonesia and Ireland, as well as the “Go Cloud, Go Global” program for enterprises to access expertise and experience from Huawei Cloud’s global ecosystem partners.
- By the end of this year, Zhang said that Huawei Cloud will be deployed in 29 regions and 75 availability zones, covering 170 countries and regions worldwide. At the core of its offering is Everything as a Service built on a cloud-native foundation to enable enterprises to innovate faster and accelerate digital transformation.
Zhang Ping’an, CEO of Huawei Cloud
Editor’s Note: The top four Cloud service providers in China are Alibaba Cloud, Huawei Cloud, Tencent Cloud and Baidu. That’s very different from the U.S. where the leaders are Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.
Huawei Cloud has already set up 13 localized service centers in the Asia Pacific, with more than 1,000 certified engineers to provide tailored services. In addition, ecosystem development has been fruitful, with more than 2,500 local partners generating more than 50% of the revenue of Huawei Cloud. Huawei Cloud is also forging ahead with industry-government-academia collaboration in the Asia Pacific. Investment in the Huawei ASEAN Academy and the Seeds for the Future Program will be used to cultivate more than 1 million digital experts over the next five years.
Huawei Cloud serves 80% of the 50 biggest Internet companies in China and more than 200 major Internet companies in the Asia Pacific. In Sarawak, Malaysia, Huawei Cloud, together with its partners, has built cloud native infrastructure to support the collaboration of more than 30 government departments in five fields, and provided more than 80 digital government and smart city services to ensure more efficient and better-informed decision-making. In Indonesia, Huawei Cloud has provided a unified data foundation to help CT Corp migrate its media, retail, and finance services to the cloud, enabling precise recommendations for 200 million Internet users. The cloud native technologies of Huawei Cloud have helped Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) in Thailand quickly roll out its digital loan service. Loan approval and issuance, which used to take one month of work, is now fully automated and can be completed in just five minutes.
To address this pain point and unleash digital productivity for thousands of industries, Zeng Xingyun, President of Huawei Cloud, APAC, shared a three-pronged approach: to act with strategic resolve, embrace cloud-native and cultivate digital talent.
Zeng Xingyun, President of Huawei Cloud, APAC
Zeng emphasized long-term planning and a top-down approach to drive collaboration between IT and business departments to modernize blueprints and architecture based on cloud-native technologies. With 90% of enterprises in developed countries already using cloud technologies and 80% of all applications to be cloud-native by 2023, Zeng noted that cloud-native delivers efficient use of resources, agile applications, intelligent services and a secured system that helps government and enterprises stay compliant and grow sustainably.
In his speech, Zeng noted that Huawei Cloud has served more than 200 top Internet enterprises in Asia Pacific and 80% of the top 50 Internet enterprises in China. Huawei Cloud has 13 service centers in Asia Pacific, but more notably, Huawei Cloud is the first public cloud vendor to build local nodes in Thailand, with three availability zone data centers serving the local market.
He spoke about how cloud-native drives digital transformation in public and private sector, elaborating on how Huawei Cloud supports Siam Commercial Bank’s (SCB) automated processes to approve large volumes of loan requests within minutes, helping SCB attract 45,000 digital users and a credit limit worth THB 204 million within a quarter.
He also highlighted the importance of a talent ecosystem to address a digital talent shortage amounting to 47 million by 2030 in Asia Pacific. Through industry-academia cooperation such as the ASEAN Academy and the Seeds for the Future Program, more than 1 million digital talents will be cultivated in the next five years. Meanwhile, the Huawei Cloud Startup Program, aimed to help regional startups adopt cloud agilely, has already attracted more than 120 Asian enterprises since its recent launch. One such enterprise is ReverseAds, a Phuket-founded startup that has successfully secured US$24 million in funding to expand beyond Thailand.
The summit also saw the joint launch of Cloud Native Elite Club (CNEC) APAC by Huawei Cloud and Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). First established in China two years ago, CNEC gathers over 200 members working collaboratively to develop industry standards and promote cloud-native technologies in China. Likewise, the APAC branch will look to further cloud-native technologies.
Cloud-Native 2.0 for Industry Enablement:
An important driving force for service innovation, cloud-native technologies such as container, microservice, and dynamic orchestration empower enterprises to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments.
As cloud-native enters a new developmental stage, Fang Guowei, Chief Product Officer of Huawei Cloud, shared that Cloud Native 2.0 is a new phase for the intelligent upgrade of enterprises, focused on delivering Everything as a Service incorporating Infrastructure as a Service, Technology as a Service and Expertise as a Service to yield breakthroughs in digital transformation for government and enterprises.
An advocate of cloud-native innovations with open source, Huawei Cloud has contributed to the CNCF with open source projects including KubeEdge, Volcano and Karmada, hence growing the CNCF community from 1 Kubernetes project in 2015 to more than 20 categories and over 1,100 projects today.
Huawei Cloud delivers cost-effective cloud services with the innovative full-stack QingTian Architecture, featuring ultra-fast I/O engine, end-to-end security and enhanced operations and maintenance.
Adding to its offerings are more than 15 cloud-native products and services introduced to the global market for the first time. Elaborating on two core cloud-native innovations, Fang introduced the Cloud Container Engine (CCE) Turbo as a new cloud-contained engine that yields increased resource utilization, reduced access latency by up to 40%, and scale out 3,000 pods per minute to cope with traffic surges.
He also featured the Ubiquitous Cloud-Native Service (UCS), a distributed cloud-native service that allows enterprises to connect thousands of Kubernetes clusters to deliver a consistent experience through multi-cloud, cross-region applications.
Introductions were made to new services based on four pipelines: ModelArts to help AI developers effectively achieve one-stop data-tagging/model training; DataArts for an efficient and intelligent data governance pipeline; DevCloud for a secure and productive software development pipeline; and MetaStudio to provide better media experience. Other upcoming offerings include MacroVerse aPaaS such as KooMessage, KooSearch and KooGallery.
Fang also took the opportunity to release the Cloud-Native 2.0 Architecture White Paper to help enterprises embark on digital transformation.
Articulating the impact of Huawei Cloud’s innovations on industries, Hu cited AI adoption in the Pangu Drug Molecule Model to yield faster drug discovery for the First Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University – successfully reducing R&D costs by 70% and development to approval time from a decade to a month for the world’s first broad-spectrum antimicrobial drug.
As one global network, Huawei Cloud has launched more than 240 cloud services, aggregating more than 38,000 partners and 3 million developers to release more than 7,400 applications in the cloud market.
With cloud-native technologies becoming a key engine to unleash digital productivity, Huawei Cloud demonstrates a commitment to harness cloud-native, Everything as a Service to spur economies.