Cloud Native: a journey as well as a destination

Guy Daniels
By Guy Daniels

Oct 31, 2019

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Diego R. Lopez, Senior Technology Expert, Telefonica & Andrew Coward, CEO, Lumina Networks

Diego Lopez says that the emergence of cloud native is by no means disruptive or antithetical to the original concept of network virtualisation because it is a natural consequence of how NFV was conceived in the first place while Andrew Coward points out that when network virtualisation was first being mooted the carriers told equipment vendors that while they definitely wanted NFV, they wanted it in containers. 

In other words they wanted it 'cloud native'. However, at that time, the vendors were not ready or able to provide such a solution because of the great difficulties inherent in getting the data plane into containers and then being able to deliver the same high performance levels as a traditional piece of vendor hardware. The fact is that cloud native was a destination even before the industry knew what the destination was called.

The term 'data plane' refers to all the functions and processes that forward packets/frames from one interface to another while the 'control plane' covers all the functions and processes that determine which path to use such as routing protocols and spanning trees. The control plane and the management plane serve the data plane, which bears the traffic that the network exists to carry. Diego Lopez adds that current cloud technologies will inevitably have to be adapted because the data plane is extremely challenging. Adaptation, whilst eminently feasible will be difficult and challenging and will take quite some time to get right.

Andrew Coward says that one of the prime benefits of container-based architecture is the inherent ability to scale one element against another. That plays very well to the control plane and he stresses that there are very real advantages to making applications cloud native and containerised.

As Diego Lopez points out, the data plane is a succession of steps (such as in the concept of 'service chaining') and says that if the industry can scale or adapt these mechanisms into the data plane then it will be worth thinking about different network architectures that would include not only chains but also trees and other types of topology.

He believes that cloud native is sufficiently well-defined in relation to some aspects of the virtualised network and especially with reference to the data plane. However, although the industry knows where it wants to get to there is still no universally accepted view of what things will actually look like when it gets there. That's why cloud native is a journey as well as a destination.

Diego R. Lopez, Senior Technology Expert, Telefonica
Andrew Coward, CEO, Lumina Networks

Filmed at SDN NFV World Congress, The Hague, 2019

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