Mirantis Aligns With Facebook to Advance CNFs

Mirantis announced it is furthering the adoption of container network functions (CNFs) by collaborating with Facebook to bring Magma, an open source converged access gateway software platform, to Kubernetes.

Announced at the Magma Developer conference, Boris, Renski, chief marketing officer for Mirtantis, says the company has spent the last six months integrating, testing and certifying Magma with Mirantis Cloud Platform (MCP) Edge for edge computing applications.

MCP Edge combines Kubernetes with the OpenStack cloud management platform with DriveTrain, a control plane that spans containers, virtual machine and bare-metal platforms. Magma is an open source software platform designed to integrate existing packet core networks with new services at the network edge based on, for example, WiFi 6.

Renski says Magma will make it easier for providers of legacy network services to embrace lightweight services and applications based on containers at the network edge. In fact, Mirantis expects networking service providers to federate services across multiple carriers, he says.

Carriers have spent the last several years building virtual network functions (VNFs) to replace physical appliances. Now many of those VNFs will be replaced by CNFs. However, Renksi says most carriers will wind up deploying a combination of VNFs and CNFs for years to come, depending on the nature of the application service being deployed. Some organizations also will deploy virtual machines on bare-metal servers running Kubernetes using open source Virlet software, he adds.

It may be a while before providers of networking serviced decide to what degree they want to rely on VNFs versus CNFs. In theory, CNFs can be deployed on either a virtual or physical machine to provide greater flexibility than a VNF that is typically optimized for only one type of virtual machine. However, there are network services that will require a dedicated VNF.

Among the many providers of Kubernetes distributions, Mirantis has been squarely focused on employing Kubernetes to advance networking services. The company is working closely with AT&T to advance the adoption of 5G networking services based on OpenStack and Kubernetes. It also contributes to Airship, an open source community dedicated to creating a declarative approach to manage containerized software delivery of cloud infrastructure services.

It’s apparent that the race to deliver mainstream 5G networking services has a lot to do with how well each carrier makes the transition to virtual networking infrastructure. Deploying 5G application services at scale requires carriers to master a complex network of services based on microservices as users move between small cells embedded in everything from lampposts to sewer caps. While each application may be lighter weight, collectively they will provide the resiliency required to deploy next-generation augmented and virtual reality applications at scale.

Of course, most end-users are still waiting on 5G services to be rolled out. However, it’s arguable that without the rise of container and orchestration engines such as Kubernetes, it would never have been practical for carriers even to contemplate making the transition to 5G networks. The challenge now is delivering on that promise on a global scale.

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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