Red Hat and Samsung announced today they will collaborate on the building of 5G networking platforms based on Red Hat OpenShift.
Ian Hood, chief technologist for global service providers at Red Hat, says Red Hat OpenShift will be the foundation on which 5G networking platforms based on Kubernetes will be deployed both within core 5G networks as well as at the networking edge.
Samsung is pledging to make virtualized radio networks (VRANs), vCore, multi-edge computing (MEC), management and analytics platforms and tools available Red Hat OpenShift. The two companies also plan to incorporate Red Hat OpenStack Platform, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform and Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage in those platforms.
Collectively, those platforms will enable 5G service providers to deploy a mix of containerized network functions (CNFs) and virtualized network functions (VNFs) of bare-metal platforms, says Hood. Red Hat OpenShift makes it possible to maximize the performance of CNFs by deploying Kubernetes on bare-metal appliances. Service providers can then employ open source kubevirt software to deploy VNFs using virtual machines that are encapsulated in containers, he says.
That approach enables service providers to take advantage of investments in VNFs that are tied to specific virtual machines while transitioning to CNFs that can be deployed anywhere. Samsung has also received a VNF Certification from Red Hat and is in the process of attaining CNF Certification.
According to a report from ACG Research commissioned by Red Hat, open horizontal platforms such as CNFs can lower total cost of ownership (TCO) of vRANs by up to 30% when compared to siloed vertically integrated deployments.
Hood says service providers are investing in various forms of network virtualization to become more agile. It may take only a few minutes to provision a virtual machine. However, the provisioning of network services based on legacy routers and switches can take weeks. Service providers investing in CNF and VNFs are moving toward automating the provisioning of network services using tools such as Ansible, he notes.
In general, Hood says service providers will deploy a wide variety of edge computing platforms based on CNFs and VNFs. In some cases, entire hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) platforms will be installed in cell towers. In other cases, a Kubernetes cluster might simply be deployed in an office park. Regardless of approach, the goal is to move the processing and analysis of data as close as possible to the point where that data is being created and consumed. Applications that make use of, for example, augmented and virtual reality are not going to be able to tolerate the level of network latency that is encountered when remotely accessing applications running in the cloud or an on-premises IT environment.
It’s too early to say how quickly service providers will leverage containers to virtualize network services. However, given the current gap between 5G network performance expectations and reality, the chances are good network engineers across the services provider ecosystem are already well-acquainted with CNFs.