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Cloud Native Adoption a must for Telecom vendors

Introduction

Telecom Vendors need to evolve significantly and adopt Web-Scale Cloud technologies to become more agile and innovative.


Telecom solutions and applications have to evolve to Web-Scale Cloud Native Network solution & application. Web-Scale Cloud Native Telecom solutions are the need of the hour. Telecom solutions have traditionally been monolithic, complex, purpose-built hardware-based. This leads to complex systems, vendor lock-in, higher cost and lesser innovation.


Telecom Operators are looking for Network solution that equips them to become Agile, Flexible, Elastic, Innovative and Reduce Cost. For Operators to be competitive, they have to become agile like Web-Scale OTT companies so that they are able to launch new features and services quickly and experiment to the level as what Web-Scale OTT players do.



Cloud Native Adoption


Web-Scale Cloud Native Solution

Cloud-native is an approach to building and running applications that exploits the advantages of the cloud computing delivery model. Containers, Microservices, CI/CD and DevOps are the key tenets of the Cloud Native applications. Each of the tenets are complimentary to the other tenet to yield the benefit that Cloud Native applications bring in. Hence for a truly Cloud Native solution it is necessary to support all the four tenets.


Even 3GPP, one of the key telecom standards defining body, too has acknowledged the importance of Web-Scale Cloud Native Network solution. All the 3GPP standards until 4G/LTE were defined keeping in mind the purpose build hardware-based network functions in mind. But with 5G starting 3GPP Release 15, 3GPP 5G SA network architecture has been defined keeping in mind Virtualization, Cloud & Software based Open Functions. As per 3GPP: “Technologies and concepts such as virtualization, cloud computing, internet of things, functionality exposure and self-organizing networks are central building blocks of 5G and will allow seamless communication as well as enable synergies between different industries. This is done to tightly integrate 5G in the current and upcoming digital ecosystem of their customer.” 3GPP took a bold step to introduce SBA (Service Based Architecture) Architecture replacing the decade old point-to-point signaling, with GTP protocol, to any-to-any signaling with REST API based communication model.


Given the above Telecom vendors must equip and gear themselves to cater to the needs that Operators have and offer Truly Web-Scale Cloud Native Network solution. For this the Telecom Vendors must evolve and adopt the mindset of a Web-Scale Cloud application development companies as compared to earlier monolithic applications development companies.


Advantages for Telecom Vendors

Telecom Vendor will significantly gain following advantages with Cloud Native adoption:

  • Simplified modular applications. Cloud Native application are simplified, and modular applications as compared to monolithic system which after several year of development become so big and complex that it is difficult to change, manage and evolve. With Cloud Native with microservices decomposed architecture the application becomes a set of loosely coupled independent components called microservices. This makes the system modular and simpler to change, manage and evolve.

  • Faster time to market. With iterative feedback based Agile development and CI/CD it allows the Vendor to focus on core functionality and deliver it to customers in seconds or minutes rather than months or years. With CI/CD with automated integration, testing, delivery, and deployment you can get feature built, delivered, and deployed quickly. In addition to this will help you get the feedback sooner for each iteration rather than waiting for the whole feature or several months. This valuable feedback can then be used to improve and tweak the feature to ensure it is delivered to the best of the expectation of the customer. This will significantly improve customer satisfaction.

  • Increases feature velocity. With most of the infrastructure and logistics aspects being taken care of by automation, DevOps and CI/CD more engineering bandwidth will get freed up to build more features and capabilities.

  • Build once deploy anywhere. Cloud Native applications bring in this huge value addition to build application once and deploy it on various types of infrastructures. Whether it is On-Prem, Public Cloud, Hybrid Cloud. Cloud Native applications can be deployed on all of these. This again frees up bandwidth for Engineering teams to focus more on value creation.

  • DevOps breaks silos. DevOps is a set of practices that combines software development (Dev) and Operations (Ops) which aims to shorten the systems development life cycle and provide continuous delivery with high software quality. It is intended to reduce the time between committing a change to a system and the change being placed into normal production, while ensuring high quality”. With the capability of build once deploy anywhere of Cloud Native it becomes easier to remove the silos and simplify development and expedite the operations process.

  • Ability to use Off-the-shelf available components. With microservice based decomposed architecture it is possible to use best of the breed off the shelf available components. This will help expediting the development, improving the solution quality, and expediting time to market.

Key Best Practices

Vendors that don’t adopt it will be at huge competitive disadvantage and will mostly get disrupted. Some of the key things Vendors need to do while adopting Cloud Native Journey are listed below:

  • Cloud Native is not just a technology and it needs culture and mindset change. This needs a commitment and buy-in first and mostly from the top leadership team of the organization. Obviously, it then needs to be widely adopted across the whole organization. As it normally happens with any new evolution or disruption, there are very few early adopters and a good number of traditional Vendors remain in denial mode of adoption of new technology, and by the time they realize that it is now a reality and must have it is too late in the market. Cloud Native very much is now a reality and is no more just a hype.

  • Misunderstanding of What Cloud Native means. Cloud Native is sometimes misunderstood or is interpreted differently by different stakeholders. It is very necessary to get everybody on same page clearly converge on what Cloud Native means. Just adopting containerization is not Cloud native or just adopting Cloud hosting or just CI/CD does not make a solution Cloud Native. As mentioned earlier, the four key tenets are inter-twined and to get real benefits of Cloud Native you need to ensure they all are included.

  • Building the right expertise mix needed to build Cloud Native Telecom apps is also important. Traditionally embedded systems & telecom expertise was the key focus. But now with Cloud Native this must change with expertise in Web-Scale applications, Cloud Computing, Management and Orchestration too are now are needed in addition. A right balanced and evolved expertise is needed as compared to what it has been with traditional monolithic, purpose-built hardware-based solutions.

  • Baggage of present solution on future evolution. While adopting Cloud Native one of the key dilemma Vendors face is how to keep balance between the present and the future solution. Present (either purpose built or NFV based) solution is the bread earner for today. Adopting Cloud Native, which is a cultural and mindset change in addition to the technology change, is like changing the tier of the car while it is on the move at full speed. It is needed that Vendors balance the present and future solution evolution in a balanced manner. Delaying adoption of Cloud Native can be significantly detrimental and can lead to getting disrupted by newbie or competition Vendor.

Summary

Telecom Vendors need to evolve significantly and adopt Web-Scale Cloud technologies to become more agile and innovative. Web-Scale Cloud Native Telecom solution is need of the hour and is a reality and no more a hype. Telecom Operators are looking for Network solution that equips them to become Agile, Flexible, Elastic, Innovative and Reduce Cost. Web-Scale Cloud Native Network solution is the need of the hour for Operators to fulfill these Telecom Operator needs and gear them up for the fierce competition of today and of tomorrow.


Telecom Vendors will significantly gain several advantages with Cloud Native adoption. Vendors that don’t adopt it will be at huge competitive disadvantage and will mostly get disrupted. Telecom Vendors must evolve and adopt the mindset of a Web-Scale Cloud application development companies as compared to earlier monolithic applications development companies. There are some best practices to adopt Cloud Native that Telecom Vendors need to take care of to succeed in this journey of Cloud Native adoption.

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Paras Jain
Paras Jain
Jun 13, 2023

Very insightful article. Would love to hear your thoughts on how as-a-Service models and performance requirements on data-path intertwine with Cloud Native deployments.

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Gaurav Vaid
Gaurav Vaid
Jun 13, 2023
Replying to

@Paras Jain, good points. Not sure, we can do justice to that topic in a short blog post but it is a challenge worth tackling (I mean the blogging challenge, not just the challenge of actually solving the problem you have laid out). @Amit Ghadge or I will attempt to address the blogging challenge in a future blog 😊

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Gaurav Vaid
Gaurav Vaid
Jun 05, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Interesting Technology perspective, @Amit Ghadge and thanks for sharing it here. In keeping with the theme of our venture and the market-in philosophy and using technology to solve real world business problems, look forward to reading about real use cases and your views on that in subsequent posts.

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