Rod Makin, Sr. Director, Product Lifecycle Management, NetNumber

In November, I spoke at the virtual Telecoms Europe 5G conference hosted by Mobile Europe.  The event was well attended by operators across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.  My presentation topic was entitled “Going Cloud Native—the Migration is Underway” and is summarized below.  You can find a recording of my complete remarks here. This includes a demo of autoscaling 5G to handle traffic peaks.

What is Cloud Native?

Cloud Native means many different things to different people, so let me start by reviewing what I mean by the term.  In the context of my presentation, the term cloud native stands for microservices architecture consisting of small software units called containers. Containers can be built, delivered, deployed and moved fast and at any time.

The telecom industry is moving to cloud native for almost the same reasons as the industry moves to any other generation of the mobile networks—agility in the creation and rollout of communications services; faster time to market; higher profitability and efficiency; addressing new market segments; enabling the generation of new revenue streams and more. For these reasons, the fifth generation of the mobile core is a cloud native solution, by definition. Cloud native solutions provide for hyper scalability as we know it from the IT market, and can be deployed on bare metal, virtual, and public or private cloud infrastructures.
The migration to cloud native is an exciting journey that does not only change the way you specify, code, deliver, deploy and operate network services—it also changes the way you work, the way you think, and it even changes the organizational structure of the company that you work for.

Successful Migration to Cloud Native

The successful migration to cloud native requires a focus on the development, deployment, lifecycle management, OSS integration and security related aspects.  You can watch my video for the details on each of these aspects.

In summary, cloud native solutions are built of containers and deployed as a network service or as an individual network function. The deployment usually spans multiple data centers or in case of cloud deployments, multiple availability zones. Where required, the service-specific data and state is replicated across geo-graphically distributed locations for service high availability, session continuity and to tackle special use cases like session data exchange during asymmetrical routing. Each data center or availability zone offers an infrastructure suitable for the deployment of cloud native solutions. It includes the container image registry and the cloud native storage. And it also offers Kubernetes as a managed service. The suppliers of cloud native solutions can, of course, deploy and manage Kubernetes clusters themselves, but especially in multi-vendor deployments this responsibility is usually delegated to the container infrastructure service provider of operator’s choice.

The lifecycle of the deployment is managed locally or centrally using a deployment server or a service orchestrator. The deployment artifacts comprise the container images, the Helm charts and deployment-specific parameters.  The deployment task itself is simply moving the container images into the container image registry and combining the Helm charts with deployment specific parameters in the creation or upgrade of the container infrastructure objects managed by Kubernetes.

The integration of cloud native solutions optimally works with a nextGen OSS providing for standards-compliant APIs utilized in the provisioning, fault supervision, performance assurance and other management tasks. But there are still many OSS implementations built on legacy protocols. NetNumber has decided to collect all OAM data on the OAM Data Broker so it can be consumed by publicly available clients and mediated to the protocol and format of customer’s choice. With this, both legacy and nextGen OSS implementations can be supported.

When it comes to security, it is better to start sooner than before it’s too late.  Security aspects must be observed already during the software development process.  For example, third-party software integrated in the cloud native and any other solutions needs to be scanned for known vulnerabilities.  In addition, licensing terms of the components embedded in the third-party software need to be checked.  NetNumber uses third party solutions in the software composition analysis and vulnerability scans and adopts the recommendations defined by the GSMA Network Security Assurance Scheme (NESAS). You can watch my video for the security aspects observed on the different levels of the deployment stack and during different phases of the deployment process.

NetNumber has created its TITAN.IUM NextGen framework providing for the implementation of the 5G core and for the migration of the existing NetNumber products and solutions to cloud-native. Many NetNumber products that have migrated to cloud native are legacy products that leverage on the benefits of cloud native solutions. Delivering cloud native solutions for 2G, 3G, 4G, IMS and 5G, NetNumber TITAN.IUM is the telecom industry’s first cloud native intergenerational framework that addresses both legacy and next generation requirements for telco and private networks.  If you want to learn more about TITAN.IUM, contact sales@netnumber.com.


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