LFN Adds Container Networking PaaS for 5G Efforts

LF Networking (LFN), an arm of the Linux Foundation, has launched an open source platform-as-service (PaaS) environment as part of an effort to advance development of 5G wireless services.

Arpit Joshipura, general manager for networking, edge and internet of things (IoT) for the Linux Foundation, says the XGVela project is based on a PaaS environment developed by China Mobile that is optimized for building container network functions (CNFs) that will drive next-generation 5G wireless networking services.

Contributors to the XGVela project include China Unicom, China Telecom, ZTE, Ericsson, Nokia, H3C, CICT and Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications.

Joshipura says the XGVela project is part of an ongoing effort to build an open source network functions virtualization (NFV) platform for deploying both CNFs as well as virtual network functions (VNFs) that run top of an open source virtual machine. At present, most telecommunications carriers are in the process of embracing network virtualization to deliver 5G services at scale. Initially, much of that work has focused on VNFs. However, with the rise of containers, carriers now have a way to build network services that can run on top of any virtual machine or bare-metal appliance. The LNF has embraced the XGVela project to faciliate that transition by making it easier to consistently build and deploy CNFs.

As part of that effort, the LNF has also been overseeing the development of EdgeX Foundry, an open source, loosely coupled microservices framework for deploying applications at the network edge. The latest release of that platform, Geneva, automates provisioning of devices, improves bandwidth utilization and adds testing tools as well as a way to consistently secure application secrets.

With 170 contributors to the EdgeX Foundry project, Joshipura notes there are now 5 million container downloads a month tied to this project.

The LNF also stewards the Open Horizon platform for managing the service software life cycle of containerized workloads and related machine learning assets, which is built on top of EdgeX Foundry.

Joshipura says with more developers working from home to help combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, contributions to all LNF projects has accelerated in recent months.

Much of that work builds on a Kubernetes foundation that is being advanced under the auspices of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), which is also an arm of the Linux Foundation. Adoption of Kubernetes as a platform for building and deploying applications is gaining widespread momentum among carriers, notes Joshipura.

It may be a while yet before Kubernetes and all the projects being put forward by the LFN come together to transform telecommunications. However, it’s also only a matter of time before those carriers harden these platforms to the point where there are downstream benefits for enterprise IT organizations.

In the meantime, Joshipura says the LNF is committed to providing access to free training to increase the number of developers capable of building CNFs and VNFs that will drive next-generation 5G services and beyond. The challenge is making sure the critical mass of developers comes together in a way that ensures there are enough 5G networking services to consume by the time such networks are pervasive.

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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