December 23, 2019
Australian national operator Telstra is the latest telco to adopt so-called "cloud-native" technology by deploying a container-based Evolved Packet Core (EPC) to support its 4G and 5G services.
Working with long-time supplier Ericsson, Telstra has integrated the next-gen EPC into its NFV infrastructure (NFVi) and, according to an announcement by the Swedish vendor, the system is already managing 4G and non-standalone 5G traffic. Telstra launched commercial 5G services in May this year.
Ericsson has supplied its Packet Core Controller -- "deployed as a cloud-native container-based Mobility Management Entity (MME) in an existing MME pool," notes the vendor -- and Packet Core Gateway.
The Swedish company says both products are designed "to be fully cloud-native container-based solutions," running on its Cloud Container Distribution (CCD) that is part of Ericsson's NFVi solution or on other distributions that conform to Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) specifications. (Reminder: CNCF is home to the Kubernetes, the open source system for managing containers.)
Telstra says the move is part of its software-centric T22 strategy to introduce more automation and simplify its operations and service plans.
"Through the T22 initiative, Telstra's business is being transformed to improve service delivery and provide customers with enhanced experiences," noted Shailin Sehgal, the operator's Product Enablement Technology Executive, in a press announcement about the deployment. "To achieve this transformation, Telstra's network needs to become more flexible and efficient, and cloud-native container-based applications such as Ericsson’s containerized Evolved Packet Core are a key element of this. This is key to cost effectively scaling and automating our network and speeding up the delivery of innovative new services that are essential in a 5G world."
Containers, the cornerstone of cloud-native deployments, are widely deployed in data center environments but are only just starting to find their way into telco platforms as operators migrate towards cloud-oriented platforms as part of their 5G plans. Major operators such as AT&T, BT, Deutsche Telekom, Verizon and Vodafone have been making the early running, but others such as Colt and Three UK.
Light Reading has long identified cloud-native developments to be key to 5G strategies -- it's a key piece of our 5G Big Picture puzzle -- and it seems Don Alusha, senior analyst at ABI Research, agrees. "A common cloud-native platform that accommodates multiple technology variances is expected to be a key piece of the wider cloud-native 5G deployments puzzle," he noted in a recent blog.
Expect many more cloud-native announcements by telcos in 2020, especially as initiatives such as the Common NFVi Telco Taskforce (CNTT) embrace containers as part of their blueprints and specifications.
For more on this, see:
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading
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