Telcos should avoid refactoring their VNFs and instead adopt true cloud native network functions

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Martin Taylor, CTO, Metaswitch

Cloud native technologies empower organizations (whether enterprises or telcos) to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private and hybrid clouds. Martin Taylor, CTO, Metaswitch, discusses some of the key features of cloud native application architecture, including stateless processing, microservices and containers. 
However, can these techniques really be applied to the implementation of network functions, given that these are somewhat different in nature to Web-scale applications? In an ideal world, all network functions would be truly cloud native, packaged in containers and orchestrated by Kubernetes. The reality, however, is that new cloud infrastructure needs to be able to support both legacy VNFs, packaged in virtual machines, and CNFs packaged in containers.
It is important to remember that containers do not necessarily equal cloud native. Also, there is no obvious evolution path from VNF to CNF – it is extremely difficult to refactor monolithic, stateful, legacy network function software so as to embody the key architectural aspects of cloud native that are essential to the delivery of cloud native benefits. 

Filmed using the TelecomTV Smart Studio service, March 2020

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