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Where is Open Source taking Telecoms?

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I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Anders Rosengren, Head of Architecture & Technology, Ericsson Digital Services, right after the 2019 Open Network Summit (ONS) in America – the perfect time to assess how “cloudy” the Telco world has become, and how much of that is open, from the underlying platforms, right up the stack to the service API’s.

I came away from my discussion with Anders, with little doubt that my long held view of an impending Cambrian explosion of innovation and opportunity stemming from the next generation of telecommunications is now set to wash over the world in a very exciting sense, to offer a seemingly unlimited array of exciting new opportunities to offer products, services, and affect a positive global transformation of all key markets and industries over the next 12 to 18 months.

As you probably know, Ericsson not only has to support their telco operator customers in the digital transformation journey to cloud, a key pivot necessary to deliver #5G, their own business which also very successfully underwent the very same organisation wide digital transformation and shift to cloud modes, including core network and platform systems, including their Operational Support Systems (OSS) and Business Support Systems (OSS) offerings which are now “cloud native” solutions.

I like to describe this by saying that “Ericsson were in effect their own first customer in this whole digital transformation journey ‘to the cloud’ and in doing so, they demonstrated their capabilities to the world in an incredibly open and transparent fashion, in record time and in flying colours, leaving no doubt ‘they can do it’ as they indeed just did, with themselves as customer number one”.

As head of architecture and technology for Ericsson Digital, Anders has been in the thick of it. He literally lives and breathes cloud and all things automation, orchestration, from design, build, to implementation, support and maintenance. It’s his chief architects who are driving the cloud native, automation and orchestration journey, and the transformation reaches across the entire Ericsson portfolio.

But what you may not know is that Ericsson is the third largest contributor to the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), an open source project hosted by the Linux Foundation in the network domain which targets the management and orchestration space. They are literally creating a horizontal platform for open operations support systems, orchestration and automation.

“Open source is *really* important for Ericsson and it’s transformational for the Telco industry,” says Anders.  ‘We’ve worked with [industry] standardisation for ages, where you work on specifications – but open source is built by boots on the ground, you need to be there, you need to develop.”  

Anders told me “It’s so different from previous ways of working in telco. A sizeable portion of the new capabilities are developed collaboratively. New functionality is created very quickly in an open manner via joint teams and then adds value right away.”

“Sure we could take Kubenetes and optimise it for our own use,” says Anders, “but then you lose the speed and the scale of open source. So we want to work within the community, working upstream to make Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and Kubernetes even better for telco.”

Which made me think about the other venders in the Telco space. This whole concept of openness carries with it an assumption that if operators don’t have open APIs they aren’t going to interconnect. Is it fair to say this is a necessity, I ask? That operators will HAVE to connect to each other’s networks in an open way?

Anders says, Oh, Yes. “Deploying and orchestrating the new 5G use cases increases network complexity, and addressing that requires increased capabilities in orchestration and automation – ONAP is a fantastic way to jointly address these needs across the industry”

He then references a complete nail-biter of a live demo his team ran during the summit, where together with AT&T, they performed a system Continuous Integration / Continuous Development (CICD) DevOps style deployment in *5 minutes* using collaboratively-developed open source code and tools.

So that had me pondering some deep and meaning full questions around the whole topic of cloud. For example, what does cloud native actually mean inside Ericsson, in particular with regard to systems and applications?

Anders stated “It’s about running in containers and building a micro-services based architecture. But it’s also based on agnosticity – we can run our applications on any Kubernetes based cloud platform. It’s about decomposing software into the right set of micro-services, where the number and size of those micro-services are defined by the functionality in the middle”.

He went on to say “It’s about building the right type of resiliency or redundancy functions into the applications and pushing some of that into the cloud platform, where you rely on container orchestration to restart your containers when necessary“.

I was very pleased to hear this as it is the very shift in inter-operability and inter-connectivity thinking I’ve witnessed across the whole Telco industry, which is that the networks are realising they need to be addressing a shift to cloud models throughout the whole technology stack.

I asked Anders what sort of ramifications this would have at application level, to which he said “It’s not just moving individual applications to cloud, it’s the whole platform and tool suite, and on top of that, it’s the whole way of working as an organisation and continuously deploying software, compared to twice a year..

This got me thinking about the flow on impact of individual Telco’s being required to address this on their own, versus seeking that support or offering from the likes of Ericsson, for in most cases the shift to cloud will for most mean a need to refactor entire applications, going back to source code, and redesigning and rebuilding core systems or tools to run as containers within the likes of docker, inside Kubernetes clusters, as cloud “native” offerings as microservices, on open cloud offerings such as OpenStack.

In short, it’s critical in my view, that telco vendors, carriers and operators understand that standalone apps or software solutions are no longer “fit for purpose” in a future that is cloud.

That then in turn begs the question, how do you open up APIs from your network for third party applications? Because if you build this fantastic 5G service, you need to allow industry applications for it, everything from wide-area gaming through to the likes of preventive maintenance or automotive systems.

“That is a big transformation for us as a vendor as well as for customers, to open up those APIs and make them common across operators and accessible. There’s a whole set of questions and transformations in that space.” said Anders.

Let that sink in for a moment as it’s a key takeaway from this discussion. Within the next 12 months Anders’ team will have their dual mode 5G cloud core fully operated running in production on Kubernetes with major operators across the globe.

That in essence means that by as early as the end of 2020, we are looking at a global 5G rollout phenomenon, including full automation and orchestration between vendors, carriers and operators. Heady stuff indeed.

So with that in mind, I had to ask – does that include the ability for micro-services that can move from one carrier to another as the user moves?

Anders says, “It’s an absolute must. We are not there today. But it’s a critical call to action that we facilitate a global application developer community.”

Now I could literally transcribe this entire amazing conversation for you, but I think it far wiser for me to invite you to enjoy the full conversation and some of the most enlightening insights you will hear from a thought leader and practitioner who is “hands on” leading the charge to deliver the next generation of Telco offering.

To do that, simply “tune in” to the full podcast, the latest episode in my Conversations With Dez show – you will be treated to some amazing insights and anecdotes, and then I invite you to come back and join the conversation in the comments section below with any Q&A you have from this article or the full podcast show.

You may also like to check out my interview with Anders Rosengren on camera at Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona recently. I look forward to your feedback and any thoughts or questions you have.

5G

What can we expect from Huawei? Innovation, 5.5G and much more.

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At this week’s Win-Win·Huawei Innovation Week, in a keynote speech entitled “Innovation, Lighting up the 5.5G Era”, David Wang set out the next evolution of 5G technology, which the company terms 5.5G. He also laid out an industry innovation roadmap for the next five to ten years.

“Looking ahead to 2025, the sheer diversity and magnitude of network service requirements will create huge new market potential,” said Wang. “We’re here to discuss these opportunities with operators and industry partners, and explore the innovations we need to help pave the way for 5.5G.”

First proposed by Huawei at the 11th Global Mobile Broadband Forum in 2020, 5.5G has more recently been supplemented by F5.5G (or fixed 5.5G) this April at the Huawei’s Global Analyst Summit (see Elnion’s coverage of the event).

A wealth of new requirements will raise the bar for next-generation ICT infrastructure

According to Wang, new developments in digital technology need to support a truly real-time, engaging, and more immersive experience in the digital world, and gradually make a 10 Gbps network experience available everywhere on the planet.

On the industrial front, digitalisation has already entered the fast lane. AI will be fully integrated into enterprise production processes, and the size of the 5.5G IoT market will grow rapidly. Collaboration between robots and people in complex scenarios will impose greater requirements on next-generation industrial field networks.

Currently, bottlenecks in computing, such as memory walls, unbalanced utilisation of data center resources, and low energy efficiency, are hindering the rise of new computing demand. To address these challenges, Huawei is looking to help the industry needs innovate at the architecture and system levels to boost computing supply.

Six features of 5.5G – New value for digital life and development

The first is a 10 Gbps user experience. 5.5G will deliver a 10 Gbps experience through MIMO technology that boasts larger bandwidth, higher spectrum efficiency, and higher-order modulation. With next-generation technologies like FTTR, Wi-Fi 7, 50G PON, and 800G, F5.5G will bring a 10 Gbps experience everywhere.

At the event, Wang proposed Net5.5G for the first time, defining the evolution of IP networks to meet the rising demand for computing power by intelligent applications. “As digitalisation takes hold, intelligent applications will see large-scale commercialisation and computing resources will be located across multiple clouds,” said Wang. “Enterprises need to make use of computing power from multiple clouds at lower costs, with greater agility and flexibility. To this end, we need to keep innovating based on IPv6 to help the industry thrive. This is why we proposed Net5.5G.”

Second, the business scope will go beyond connectivity. 5.5G will go beyond connectivity to include sensing, which will result in a wealth of new scenarios and applications. Wireless sensing and fiber sensing technologies will be used in vehicle-road collaboration and environment monitoring. Passive IoT will integrate cellular and passive tag technologies to create 100 billion potential connections. 5.5G core networks will redefine architectures and foundational technologies to enable new service scenarios, such as industry private networks, industrial field networks, and new calling.

Third, diversified computing will enable diversified applications. In the 5.5G era, computing architectures will be redefined to increase computing efficiency by 10-fold through chip engineering and full peer-to-peer interconnection architectures.

Fourth, data-centric storage will break through existing limits in storage architecture. Future storage will improve storage performance by 10-fold through data-centric hardware and software architecture and diversified data application acceleration engines.

Fifth, full-stack AI native will make L4 highly autonomous driving networks (ADNs) a reality. ADNs have become a common goal of the industry. Full-stack AI native, from network elements to networks and services, will accelerate breakthroughs in ADN technology. The results of new innovation, such as compression algorithms for hundreds of network indicators and unknown fault identification by AI foundation models, will be widely applied in the 5.5G era.

Lastly, developments in green technology and system-level innovation will increase energy efficiency. The ITU-T has adopted Network Carbon data/energy intensity (NCIe) as the unified energy efficiency metric to guide the industry’s green development roadmap. Huawei has developed innovative solutions for green sites, green networks, and green operations to increase network capacity and cut energy consumption per bit. These solutions will empower operators in the 5.5G era.

“As we move towards the 5.5G era, all industry players need to work together to bring standards to maturity and cultivate a thriving industry,” said Wang. He proposed three recommendations to conclude his speech.

  • The industry needs to work closely together to define the vision and roadmap for 5.5G.
  • The industry should define technology standards within the standards frameworks set by 3GPP, ETSI, and ITU.
  • All industry players should work together to promote a thriving industry ecosystem by incubating more use cases and accelerating digital, intelligent transformation.

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Next-Gen Networks & 5G, Facilitating Enterprise Business Transformation

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Enterprise Business Transformation

The prospective industrial network is taking the same route as that of Operations Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT). Varying from WAN and LAN, holding a third-party network to outsource cloud-based SaaS solutions via public clouds.

Presently, the sole aim of most organisations is to acquire real Business Operations Transformation while acquiring more significant business concessions, ROI from network technologies acquisitions, and services sustaining their business core.

Perhaps I can witness the enterprise IT transformation, as the businesses have been continually developing systems, indulging in crafting designs, plans and following the trial and error to roll out Private Converged enterprise networks, with a motive to leverage 5G in particular, regardless of their size and shape. 

But what’s unfortunate is the challenges the enterprise business transformation has brought along due to a lack of experience and skills. This frequently leads the HR departments of the enterprises to struggle while sourcing in-house expertise and understanding of digital enterprise transformation networks. As a result, the challenges bind them to bring those powers to their organisations from the market for a Partner of Choice. 

The difficulties enterprises face when embracing and operating consolidated digital enterprise transformation networks, and 5G solutions are the expertise, as these aren’t their core business. Instead, they ought the suited technology and telecoms counterpart to function with to yield flourishing results.

I recently hosted and mediated a live-stream discussion featuring two globally leading telecom executives, Aashu Virmani, Vice President & Client Partner, Communications, Cyient, and Ray Achemedei, General Manager, Technology & Digital Transformation. Horizon Power, for Cyient, titled CXO Cyience – Designing Networks of Tomorrow.” 

Our conversation was near and around the emerging transition in converged networks as enterprise IT transformation by assembling their own remote converged networks. Our discussion also covered some of their distinctive insights and stances on conceiving a savvy infrastructure. 

Though there wasn’t much that we could cover in our short conversation, after concluding our live stream, I realised that there were two major takeaway points that I believed needed to be heightened for you people. So here are two essential highlights I brought away from our live-stream event and what Aashu and Ray had to articulate on each matter when I requested them both to confer on them.

Takeaway #1

Early adopters witness prospects for instantaneous triumphs, and early adopter yields from Next-Generation Networks mainly fused personal networks across firms, which are usually prepared to leverage 5G, are flaring up prospects on multiple fronts, resulting in the advancement of creative business prototypes as new use cases for Customer and Business conditions arise.

I’m witnessing an inflated number of prospects for corps to attain influential Enterprise Business Transformation via Next Generation Networks by embracing new functioning models and use cases that access the technology that enables consolidated and Next Generation Networks.

Undoubtedly, this was conferred in profundity during our live-stream affair. Still, I felt there was more that my ace visitors could convey, so I contacted Ray and Aashu Virmani and requested them to elaborate the topic with instances of where they are witnessing possibilities for both prompt victories and early adopter returns. So here is what they had to state:

“Cyient is internally organised across ten industry verticals, from Communications to Utilities, Mining, Rail, Aerospace, and Medical – just to name a few. Within the past six months, we’ve seen over a dozen of our clients, with whom we were previously engaged for their vertical-specific use cases, start initiatives around communications and developing their own private networks — all in the context of their own enterprise transformation. More and more, we are recognizing internally how our Communications business is fast becoming ‘horizontal’ across all of our other verticals when it comes to private networks. We are simultaneously engaging with our CSP customers to help them develop and expand their implementation practices around offering private networks to their enterprise accounts.”, Aashu Virmani, Vice President & Client Partner, Communications, Cyient.

“Quick wins are a great and important way to prove out and demonstrate the value of next-generation network investments, and certainly in the space we occupy there is no shortage of examples. For example, five years ago, we installed advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) to underpin our Smart Grid goals and objectives. Initially, we used it to collect, send, and analyse consumer energy consumption data. Since then, we’ve leveraged the same data sets to automatically detect neutral integrity issues. Looking to tomorrow, we want to leverage the abilities of our AMI infrastructure to self-heal, support demand-side DER management, and enhance energy efficiency.”, Ray Achemedei, General Manager, Technology & Digital Transformation, Horizon Power.

Takeaway #2

The content of architecture industries can currently think when enforcing personal networks persists in flaring up assertive new prospects for enterprise business transformation. Multiple believed the things of telcos & carriers are now obtainable to enterprise consumers across the range.

The emphasis now is not solely to construct it correctly the foremost time, but likewise, construct it ‘intelligently’ so that process & administration evolves actually and efficiently.

Corps have become ever more critical to find the best probable Partner of Choice to defend them to accomplish such transformative developments. But, unfortunately, it is not usually the core business for most institutions to enforce, function, or drive Next Generation Networks.

Similarly, I conferred this extensively with my visitors during our live-stream event. Still, I desired to proffer my ace visitors the chance to convey more on this. So I requested them to elaborate the topic with instances where they witness prospects. So here is what they had to convey:

“When it comes to intelligent network architectures, an important learning for us was that it’s not simply a case of one size fits all. If you focus on your use cases, then the right architecture/s become apparent. Once we resolved that, it was exciting to see other opportunities emerge. For example, in our case we started by looking at a use case that supported our Operational requirements, however, we subsequently realised that the architecture that emerged from this, offered support for a wide range of use cases we hadn’t considered that sat outside of our Operations group and that these particular use cases offered us the potential to develop a significant new revenue stream. In an environment where there is considerable pressure on costs and revenues, opportunities such as this are game-changing.”, Ray Achemedei, General Manager, Technology & Digital Transformation, Horizon Power.

“Developing the right architecture for a private network depends on the eventual use case (or cases) the customer is attempting to solve, and which of the following six criteria are most important drivers: coverage, latency, density, QoS, security, and cost. The right architecture, and which OEMs we use for the customer depends on which variables we are attempting to optimise, and can range between being an extension and densification of the CSP network at the enterprise premises, to being a completely air-gapped stand-alone network owned and managed by the enterprise, to a hybrid between these two extremes. The important thing to realise is that no two networks are equal because the business problem for a mining customer may be drastically different from that of a manufacturing plant owner. Having an understanding of various industry verticals gives us an advantage when it comes to tailoring a solution that is optimal for a customer.”, Aashu Virmani, Vice President & Client Partner, Communications, Cyient.

What I can conclude from what I was able to absorb and comprehend based on my prior knowledge about the related topic and the insights I received from our hearty discussion is that it is time to act as those waits are surely going to miss the opportunities that early adopters and next-gen network embracers are going to avail cause of begin, not just early but skilful birds.

Besides, please do listen via the link below if you haven’t already tuned into the exclusive panel conversation I had with Ray and Aashu. I look ahead to resuming this discussion with Ray, Aashu, and the crew at Cyient in the future.

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Enterprise Mobility Solutions, is your business ready to admire itself?

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Enterprise Mobility Solutions

The pandemic has not only affected healthcare but also has left businesses across the globe struggling in this practically completely altered world that’s boasted with new technologies. Where the tech was just an add on to enterprise mobility solutions for a few, for others, it emerged as an essential enabler for all aspects of their business. Irrespective of the size and importance of tech in past business, we all can relate to the fact that the future of business will be mobile.  

Recently I had a chance to talk to Jason Inskeep, Director, 5G Centre of Excellence at AT&T Business, and share a divine conversation on mobile solutions for enterprise. We spoke on an array of related topics starting right from the scope of changing service function to how 5G will change business and the share of AT&T in it. 

Understanding mobility in the context of Industry 4.0 and COVID-19

COVID-19 has practically changed the way we used to comprehend tech. It has certainly shown us we did rather underestimate its potential. The traditional definition has been eradicated through mobility in use cases. The need of having remote-first workers be connected securely to fetch immediate help to first responders has shifted the connectivity paradigm. 

Software-defined networks had supported us in fulfilling those commitments shown stability in trading with the hasty shift in behaviors and magnitude upsurge when we were in dire need of it.

Further, the inherent resilience and security built into the networks are growing stronger with each passing day. Now we are moving towards finding a solution that would help bridge the securities embedded in different technologies. 

But there’s likewise the subsequent level of a prospect to promote business opportunities while mitigating risks near the ‘welding points’ of data flow – not only into endpoints but likewise in how the edge is connecting.

AT&T Mobility Solutions

Encouraging mobile and secured networking that can be adapted and mounted as per use case

AT&T mobility solutions are devised to bear the idea of enterprise-grade security past the confines of the workplace and furnish them at the point-of-need – wherever business is transpiring. So, irrespective of your location, mobile networking solutions are prepared to furnish the speed, latency, and protection you ought, not just for seamless connectivity but decision-making on the motion in a vibrant environment, where circumstances develop and transform around you every moment.

Best way to enforce 5G? Ignore the G!

Customers are required to unlearn the ‘G’ and consider networking in terms of ‘the journey of the data packet’ to prepare an optimal consumer experience. 

As Jason puts it, “The good news is that the software is virtually ready to handle anything you throw at it. That’s also the bad news.” This implies its upto us to craft new paths and mitigates risks for an optimal 5G consumer experience. 

Use cases will determine the technology instead of the other way round

The potential of 5G is virtually limitless. What’s limiting us is our hesitation to embrace another iteration of networking. The need of the hour is for enterprises to comprehend 5G – not just from a technical viewpoint but operational or a financial standpoint of businesses. 

The continuum of command has developed for businesses, and with the commoditization of the scope, there is a possibility of paralysis by analysis. The trick is to remain calm and embrace the right way to upscale your business!

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