Red Hat unites the Open Source community and private companies to bring about commercial 5G

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Azhar Sayeed, Chief Architect, Red Hat

Azhar Sayeed, Chief Architect at Red Hat, explains how the E2E 5G Cloud Native live demonstration shown at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America in San Diego, California, came about and discusses the various technologies and skills that both the Open Source (OS) and private, commercial manufacturer and vendor communities brought to bear on what was a particularly complex problem.
The project originated more than two years ago as a part of the OPNFV community when the original goal was to create a blueprint for the virtual Central Office (vCO) using as many Open Source components as possible. It quickly became apparent that there was strong community interest and support and the search was on to determine exactly what Open Source components were available and could be used, including network functions and the use of OS platforms such as Open Stack and Red Hat OpenShift, together with other OS functions such as firewalls and wireless routers.
After iterative demonstrations of vCO 1.0, vCO 2.0 and vCO 2.5, the unique and challenging 5G demonstration involved various OS functions where one of the most important was Clearwater IMS core from Metaswitch. However, the ambitious scope of the project was such that not all the necessary components were available from the Open Source community alone and this allowed commercial manufacturer and vendor partners to participate in the world's first Cloud Native live demo. The net result was the construction of a unique infrastructure that allowed partners to showcase their capabilities and expertise in building an open platform for mobile, residential and business services.
Azhar Sayeed points out that when the virtual Central Office project began there was some initial scepticism amongst various communities and companies over whether they should sign-up to it or not. However, by the time of the 5G demo participants were much more relaxed about being part of it because of the impressive track record of the iterations of the vCO scheme which had shown how participating partners and communities could benefit by being a part of it.
With Red Hat working simultaneously and very closely indeed with several OS communities and private companies the industry seems to be on the cusp of developing the last of the software necessary to make 5G a commercial reality. 5G lends itself very readily to the incorporation of a microservices model and network functions that can be disaggregated to leverage the common catalogue of functions that are available and permits the construction and deployment of an efficient and robust cloud native infrastructure and model. 
Filmed at: TelecomTV Studios, London, December 2019

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