A big Bronx cheer to skeptics
Virtual network functions (VNFs) to be deployed on the AT&T cloud include vEPC, RAN backhaul, traffic shaping services, customer usage tracking, smart voicemail, video streaming and a variety of home-built consumer facing services, Renski says.
AT&T's infrastructure represents a fundamental change in direction for telecoms, according to Renski. Historically, big technology refreshes such as 3G, 4G and LTE "were predominantly dominated by large incumbent vendors selling big boxes into telcos," he says. With AT&T taking the lead in 5G, it's building its own infrastructure based on open standards.
"This is an indicator of the right way to roll out 5G infrastructure," Renski says. "It's not about vendor prepackaged big boxes anymore; it's about building out the network based on open source standards. We're hopeful the rest of the industry will pay attention and follow suit, and we're confident it will."
Kubernetes is needed for 5G deployments because it has become the standard new infrastructure API for next-generation applications. And OpenStack support is needed to be able to use commercial VNFs from leading vendors such as Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)
"The telcos tend to move fairly slow, and most of the VNFs are primarily designed to run inside virtual machines, interfacing with orchestrators -- specifically OpenStack," Renski says. OpenStack is the standard for virtual machine orchestration; if AT&T wants to run a vEPC from Ericsson or Nokia they need OpenStack and its APIs to do it.
The AT&T deal provides welcome vindication for two technologies and one business that have been suffering popularity backlash of late. Both NFV and OpenStack have been criticized for failing to live up to an initial promise of agility. For NFV in particular, it's been a good week; the AT&T deal follows a juicy deployment by Turkey's TurkCell. (See Turkcell Races to Network Virtualization Deadline , Cato Networks Raises $55M, Dances on NFV's Grave, NFV Is Down but Not Out, SDN Is Hype & NFV a Faux Pas – Telecom Panel, VMware Damns OpenStack With Faint Praise, Rackspace: OpenStack's Death Is #FakeNews, OpenStack Foundation Fires Back at Critics, FICO, a Premier OpenStack User, Goes to the AWS Dark Side and Intel Pulls Funding From OpenStack Development Group.)
Reputation recovery Similarly, Mirantis was founded as an OpenStack specialist; as OpenStack's reputation faltered, the company's did too, exacerbated by changes in company direction that were communicated clumsily. (See Mirantis Pivots as OpenStack Loses 'Wow Factor' and Mirantis Has Seen the Future (Again) & This Time It's Spinnaker.)
So the AT&T-Mirantis deal is a big Bronx cheer to skeptics of NFV, OpenStack and Mirantis.
Also: As part of its 5G cloud, AT&T is working with Intel and SK Telekom on Airship, an open source project under the OpenStack Foundation for lifecycle management for open infrastructure built using Kubernetes clusters.
Mirantis announced Thursday that it has joined the Airship project. "I think it's fantastic," AT&T's Van Wyk said. "It's good for the project." Airship will help drive adoption for NFV by making it easier to manage and deploy. Mirantis will help speed the Airship standard to Version 1.0, he said.
— Mitch Wagner Executive Editor, Light Reading