Plastic fantastic: Cloud native's elasticity is key to the success of network transformation

Martyn Warwick
By Martyn Warwick

Nov 8, 2019

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Diego R. Lopez, Senior Technology Expert, Telefónica

The great promise of cloud native is its elasticity, an inbuilt flexibility that permits CSPs like Telefonica to take better advantage of network infrastructure and provide enhanced services at lower cost whilst simultaneously increasing automation. Thus to embrace cloud native is the logical and natural next step on the virtualisation journey, especially when taken in conjunction with the trend to containerisation and the conferred ability to interconnect a variety of network elements.
Equally important is the network edge. As Diego Lopez points out, the biggest edge in the world is those of the telecoms networks. ICT infrastructure is closer both to users and end points and is thus able to provide the support for all the short-loop decisions and the low latency requirements of particular applications. In general no other organisation of player in the sector has the same pervasive presence at the network edge as traditional telcos and the move to transformation and virtualisation is throwing up many new opportunities for the established and incumbent CSPs. 
However, they also face some significant challenges on the edge front. The situation was forensically analysed in a recent speech by Alex Resnik, the chair of the Multi-Edge Computing Group within ETSI. As Diego Lopez explains, the thesis is that the nub of the problem is the requirement to manage something like a cloud environment that, in actuality, is just about as far as it is possible to be from the current tried and tested cloud deployment and management model. 
Thus, instead of being able, as now, to rely on a highly-centralised, extremely regular environment situated in one place and well-connected to the rest of the world, in a virtualised environment with a huge amount of action taking place at the network edge operators will have to manage a vastly different proposition in the same way as they do currently with today's centralised system. In other words CSPs will have to apply general principles that were defined for one environment to another environment that is completely different and that will be a big challenge.
Moving on to look at the current state of NFV, Diego Lopez opines that it is a healthy sign when certain communities feel and even complain that their particular interests and priorities are not necessarily at the top of the agenda of the virtualisation community as a whole. He says, "Healthy competition is good" and with that and open debate the industry can identify common ground and common goals and common ways of progressing.
Telefonica's cloud native strategy is based upon realising an open orchestrator. Diego Lopez says the telco is now close to making it part of its production orchestration environment - and the orchestrator is cloud native and container-based and thus able to integrate with other network elements such as SDN controllers.
In summation, cloud native is part of the progression and evolution of Telefonica's Unica infrastructure and the next step is to bring the Unica concept to the network edge. And as Diego Lopez says, "That will be cloud native because it can't be anything else."
Filmed at: SDN NFV World Congress, The Hague, 2019

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