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Partner Perspectives (Sponsored Content)

QCT's Infrastructure of the Future Supports Rakuten Mobile's World-First Fully Virtualized Cloud Native Mobile Network

Quanta Computer branched into cloud computing in 2006, and after the company was approached by Facebook to procure servers for their cloud solutions, a large reception for custom gear by web giants followed. Since then, Quanta Cloud Technology (QCT), Quanta’s subsidiary, has worked with some of the world’s largest cloud service providers (CSPs), and has acquired a lot of the know-how to deploy massively scaled infrastructures in cloud data centers. It was these vast experiences, capabilities, and expertise that triggered Rakuten Mobile’s interest and motivation to partner with QCT for a similar “big bang” in the telecom market. What QCT saw was a natural progression of cloud computing technologies from CSPs to telecoms. Therefore, the company has now expedited the network transformation journey by working with open communities in the telecom space (i.e., O-RAN Alliance and the Telecom Infra Project) in order to democratize 5G technologies.

QCT Provides Excellent Solutions from Data Center to Edge
Prior to the successful announcement of Rakuten Mobile’s fully cloud native network, they had already been in the headlines for their bold plan to build Japan’s fourth nationwide mobile network. Rakuten, best known as one of the largest e-commerce companies in Japan, has over 100 million members in the country alone and 1.4 billion members globally. Furthermore, over the years they also became the largest mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in Japan with more than 2 million customers. The buzz of the world’s first fully virtualized mobile network is today a reality. Telecom operators across the globe are now paying attention to this network, which is built with less hardware infrastructure and lower deployment costs, offering more affordable rates.

Fig. 1: The Taiwan flag from Edge to Data Center is all QCT. (Image source: Rakuten Mobile)
Fig. 1: The Taiwan flag from Edge to Data Center is all QCT.
(Image source: Rakuten Mobile)

QCT and various partners including Intel supported the creation of this open, virtualized and disaggregated infrastructure. From day one, just two years ago, QCT was sold on the idea of using virtualized functions to build a simple network that disrupts and reimagines the way carriers build and manage their networks. QCT jointly verified, developed, and provided the server hardware and racks to meet Rakuten Mobile’s design specifications at the start of the project. In just 3 months, there were Intel processors running on QCT servers with Intel field programmable gate array (FPGA)-based accelerators. Utilizing Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors and Intel® FPGAs for acceleration, this underlying foundation built a platform that not only scales but also enables continued innovation to create services on an agile Rakuten Mobile network.

In addition to being a hardware manufacturer for the project, QCT also worked with Rakuten Mobile’s partners for the end-to-end infrastructure and service automation. The company worked with Cisco’s development teams to integrate their Cisco Virtualized Infrastructure Manager (CVIM) and collaborated with Altiostar to complete software and hardware integration of their virtual radio access network (vRAN) technology. A major milestone was achieved on February 3, 2019, with the first end-to-end real world tests of the network carried out in Tokyo.

QCT Powers a Disruptive 5G Infrastructure

Fig. 2: QCT hardware on display at the Rakuten Mobile Booth during MWC Barcelona 2019.
Fig. 2: QCT hardware on display at the Rakuten Mobile Booth during MWC Barcelona 2019.

With mobile networks today entering the 5G era, IT infrastructures must evolve with the required computing power and scalability to support new services and at a lower cost to consumers. As mentioned, QCT was fully aligned with Rakuten Mobile’s vision to minimize complexity and disaggregate software from hardware to ensure agility, stability, and scalability, as well as cost efficiency. QCT, in those critical 3 months, provided their commodity servers (QuantaGrid D52BQ-2U and QuantaGrid D52BE-2U) to Rakuten Mobile, which later constituted the 4G/LTE NFV infrastructure for the core network and edge data centers that have the ability to be extended to 5G. The QuantaGrid D52BQ-2U powers the virtualized core network at central data centers with Intel Xeon Scalable processors and multiple expansion slots for network ports and FPGAs. The QuantaGrid D52BE-2U is powered by the same Intel processor family and designed with a short depth chassis (579mm) and flexible I/O options for the network rack at the edge data center.

Rakuten Mobile saw the advantages of these standardized models, as a common problem for operators across the telco industry is maintenance of hundreds of configurations (Rakuten Mobile uses less than 10 configurations in total in order to enable their infrastructure, and only uses 4 configurations in its edge sites). In order to enable infrastructure standardization, easy scale-out, and simple operations and management, Rakuten Mobile applies these QCT designs to their vRAN and data centers to offer their customers an unparalleled option that balances cost and performance. Best of all, with this infrastructure, Rakuten Mobile doesn’t have to deploy a new network infrastructure in order to launch commercial 5G services.

Fig. 3: QuantaGrid D52BQ-2U and QuantaGrid D52BE-2U servers in a Rakuten Mobile lab.
Fig. 3: QuantaGrid D52BQ-2U and QuantaGrid D52BE-2U servers in a Rakuten Mobile lab.

As the Rakuten Mobile network platform evolves with constant innovations in the telecom space, QCT will support as the underlying robust foundation for others to follow and a powerful contender amongst server vendors worldwide as others rethink how they want to build their infrastructure of the future.

— Mike Yang is a senior vice president of Quanta Computer and president of Quanta Cloud Technology (QCT). He leads data center infrastructure solutions in the company for cloud/communications service providers and enterprises.

This content is sponsored by QCT.

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