The Linux Foundation had initiated a collaboration of over 80 volunteers, including telcos, developers, manufacturers, vendors and other member companies to provide and build all the elements needed to demonstrate a live, working 5G Cloud Native Proof of Concept, the first ever of its kind.
Heather Kirksey from the Linux Foundation talks about how bringing together such a diverse set of people would have once been a massive and almost impossible logistical task were it not for the Linux Foundation’s established, proven, trusted and very strong collaborative framework. “Partners and ecosystems were vitally important to the process that saw the industry working together to build the network of the future. That they were able to do so to such a short timetable and with so much co-ordination across multiple networks and multiple continents is a testament to the power of community.”
Usually the development of telecoms and telcos has not been very dignified or measured. However, the rise of cloud native technologies and strategies is driving the industry forward as it moves faster to counter and outflank the hyperscalers that have been rushing over the waves and causing problems in recent times.
It’s a step in the right direction but, as Heather points out, further improvement would be the integration of more evident and formalised policy into the industry’s decision-making process because “there’s a difference between moving gracefully and being dead in the water.”
The advice to new-to-cloud-native network operators wanting to take advantage of the technology whilst creating and developing their own strategies to take advantage of the potential benefits of 5G and next generation networks is:
First, do not make the mistake of using containers as yet another proxy for traditional telco devices;
Second, embrace more application-oriented cloud network design paradigms;
Third, take advantage of and fully use the Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CICD) method of application design and deployment.
Decreasing the length of time it is taking for NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) and VNFs (Virtual Network Functions) to fully grasp their potential, She Heather accepts there has been a tendency for the industry to treat VNFs like they are little more than software-based devices however she believes the rising dominance of cloud native will result in the emergence of a true application- and more agile way of business that was the original promise of NFV.
Furthermore within the context of NFV, the verification programme provides services providers with increased risk management assurances and ensures higher confidence levels because applications and products being positioned in networks have been properly tried-out. In that respect, the Linux Foundation has just launched a new initiative which focuses on the use of compliance, verification and cloud native to help service providers and operators to become agile- and applications-oriented, whilst being able to meet regulatory requirements and interoperability needs. Asked about what she’d like to see happen next as a result of the success of the cloud native proof of concept, Heather singles out the solution of the operationalisation and upstream challenges that must be resolved as soon as possible to enable the adoption and deployment of 5G networks by worldwide global operators.