VMware Extends Kubernetes Reach to Bare Metal Platforms

At the Mobile World Congress conference, VMware today extended its Service Management and Orchestration (SMO) framework to make it possible to run disaggregated and virtualized radio access network (RAN) functions directly on a bare metal server using the VMware Tanzu distribution of Kubernetes.

The extension, available as a technical preview dubbed Project Kauai, is intended to make it possible to run RAN functions on platforms that don’t have the infrastructure resources required to run VMware ESXi virtual machine software.

Sanjay Uppal, senior vice president and general manager for service provider and edge at VMware, said the goal is to give service providers a control plane for managing both container network functions (CNFs) and virtual network functions (VNFs).

As part of that effort, VMware also announced it has added support for data processing units (DPUs) to VMware Telco Cloud to make it possible to run CNFs and VNFs more efficiently. VMware is also extending its alliance with Samsung to deploy virtual DPUs, which are emerging as a means for offloading tasks from CPUs to run, for example, firewalls or intrusion detection platforms. Vodafone Qatar says it has selected both VMware Telco Cloud Platform-5G Edition and VMware Cloud Foundation with Tanzu as the cornerstone for building a modern cloud platform.

In addition, VMware says it is expanding its relationship with Intel to create appliances based on Atom processors that will be available next year.

Finally, VMware is committing to deliver a VMware SD-WAN Client later this year that improves the performance of remote and edge computing applications.

Uppal said in general, service providers are adopting programmable RANs that enable them to deliver a range of capabilities that involve real-time data processing. As more workloads are distributed to the network edge, there is a greater need to process and analyze data at the point where it is created and consumed. The challenge is that many of the platforms used to deliver those services often have limited processing capabilities. The smaller the platform, the more likely a CNF will be employed.

VMware, naturally, is betting that service providers will be running a mix of CNFs and VNFs for many years to come. These will be deployed and orchestrated using a programmable SMO framework. It’s not clear whether enterprise IT organizations will be similarly employing an SMO framework to provide networking, security and storage services, but the rise of DPUs makes it simple to manage these disaggregated functions. The issue is determining how many of those functions will be delivered as a CNF.

Regardless of approach, networking, security and storage services delivery is fundamentally changing. IT teams will find that, while managing each of these functions might be more challenging, the overall benefit is that each of these services can now be extended across of wider range of internet-of-things (IoT) applications that are either managed by them or by an IT services provider.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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