Cloud computing has burst recently into technology and business scene promising great technical and economic advantages, like offering On-demand provisioning of computer services, improved flexibility and scalability as well as reducing costs. Another attractive point of the cloud is its ability to enable a mobile workforce, which brings enhanced flexibility and efficiency. Every day, millions of users are accessing online cloud services such as Apple iCloud, Gmail and Dropbox across desktop and mobile devices.
CLOUD computing enables on-demand, programmatic, scalable and elastic provisioning of services and resources over the Internet. This is based on, generally, their pay-per-use business model that enables the reduction of capital and optimizes operational expenditures through
automation. Cloud systems are being increasingly adopted by many different businesses and application fields, including Mobile Network Operators (MNO). However, up to now the adoption of cloud systems by MNOs has been limited to IT business support services and the provisioning of cloud services to their customers.
The MNO telco services network is still regarded as a challenge for cloud computing: it is complex; it includes highly specialized services/components; it has very stringent capacity, performance and latency requirements; and it needs to run in a highly-reliable manner in all situation. Such reasons makes MNOs rely on well-understood, traditional approaches when building and delivering their core
services. This includes the use of statically planned and provisioned resources and expensive tailor-made infrastructures. This specialized hardware is traditionally provided for vertical scalability and reliability but is less flexible in capacity planning.
Nevertheless, as cloud technologies evolve and mature, many of the reasons for not adopting cloud technologies (such as OpenStack1 or CloudStack2) on the MNO core network are decreasing. The evolution of cloud technologies, including orchestration mechanisms and programmatic approaches such as Software Defined Networks (SDN) are reaching a point where such approaches, leveraging cloud
technologies, become viable. MNOs want automation and programmability from cloud technologies, resulting in cost optimization and improvements of scalability, manageability and resilience, nonetheless such optimization for core telecom services and infrastructure are still not easily automated.
The best example of this drive is the ETSI Network Function Virtualization (NFV) standardization initiative, which bridges the telco and the cloud perspectives. The Mobile Cloud Networking (MCN) project, which began before NFV activity, however compliant and mappable to NFV paradigm . MCN is one of the first concerted efforts to design, build and evaluate a complete, end-to-end cloudified infrastructure for MNOs. The MCN focus is delivering telco capabilities as services and the composition of a multitude of those such services within a larger service offering using cloud technology. Through this, MCN opens a wide range of busines s and technical opportunities for both traditional MNOs and Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO). In a “nutshell”, MCN seeks to extend cloud computing to the telco and MVNO
5G Requires Cloud-Native Platform
5G is the fifth generation of cellular mobile communications, preceded by 4G (LTE/WiMax), 3G (UMTS), and 2G (GSM) systems. 5G advantages include high data-throughput rates, reduced latency, energy savings, cost reduction, greater system capacity, and massive simultaneous device connectivity, at a practical cost.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has classified 5G mobile network services into three categories: Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Ultra-reliable and Low-latency Communications (uRLLC), and Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC). eMBB aims to meet the people’s demand for an increasingly digital lifestyle, and focuses on services that have high requirements for bandwidth, such as high definition (HD) videos, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR). uRLLC aims to meet expectations for the demanding digital industry and focuses on latency-sensitive services, such as assisted and automated driving, and remote management. mMTC aims to
meet demands for a further developed digital society and focuses on services that include high requirements for connection density, such as smart city and smart agriculture.
5G will bring cloud computing to everyone, that can take their businesses to the next level by using cloud-based systems to begin to automate things. This means connectivity for IoT devices (whether outside or on factory floors), the ability for staff to use analytics to understand where their business stands, and the ability to train employees online on the latest processes and technologies wherever they happen to be.
5G is currently serving in a limited capacity to provide enhanced mobile broadband to consumers. As the standards and technology continue to evolve, the goal is to use 5G to support massive internet of things and ultra-reliable, low latency communications. The latter–applications like mobile virtual reality or precision industrial control, will require a distribution of the compute power generally associated with a centralized data center out to the network edge, closer to the user or device. That’s where edge computing comes into play.
A survey by Cisco predicts that the number of devices connected to IP networks will be more than three times the global population by 2022. Similarly, a Gartner study forecasts that 14.2 billion connected things will be in use in 2019, and that this total will reach 25 billion by 2021, producing immense volume of data. A McKinsey study claims that 127 new IoT devices connect to the Internet every second. This clearly has a big impact on the way data centers are built, as companies will require smaller data centers at the edge and place it closer to the location where data is being generated.
The service-driven 5G network architecture aims to flexibly and efficiently meet diversified mobile service requirements. With software-defined networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) supporting the underlying physical infrastructure, 5G comprehensively cloudifies access, transport, and core networks. Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) refers to use of high performance computing server farms to implement via software many functions of a wireless infrastructure like the physical and medium access layers that were earlier implemented by dedicated hardware / semiconductors . SDN is another technology that can be utilized to implement wireless virtualization in C-RAN. It separates the network’s control (brains) and forwarding (muscle) planes and provides a centralized view of the distributed network for more efficient orchestration and automation of network services. Network switches are considered as forwarding devices that are monitored by a centralized entity. Cloud adoption allows for better support for diversified 5G services, and enables the key technologies of E2E network slicing, on-demand deployment of service anchors, and component-based network
The move to 5G New Radio (NR) standalone (SA) is necessary to support new advanced 5G services. This will require a shift to cloud-native technologies, which require a new cloud-native infrastructure to carry cloud-native functions and applications. Cloud native is a term that can describe the patterns of organizations, architectures and technologies that consistently, reliably and at scale fully take advantage of the possibilities of the cloud to support cloud-oriented business models.
The industry is evolving to the New Radio (NR) and standardized 5G Core (5GC) based on cloud native and a new service-based architecture (SBA). This new 5G SA network will allow service providers to address multiple vertical services for industries and enterprises and to explore new business opportunities.
Cloud-RAN functionalities, allow a remote radio head to connect to a cloud server via a fronthaul. Centralizing some of the radio functionalities in a cloud close to the wireless edge has shown substantial cost savings and performance improvements.
The 5G core, which will enable operators to deploy a Standalone 5G network that doesn’t rely on 4G infrastructure, must be cloud native, the Finnish vendor argued in a blog post. Nokia outlined five key business objectives for 5G that can only be delivered by a cloud-native environment. Those include: better bandwidth, latency, and density; the extension of services via network slicing to new enterprises, industries, and IoT markets; rapid service deployments defined by agility and efficiency; new services that go beyond traditional broadband, voice, and messaging; and the advent of digital services that harness end-to-end networking to capture more revenue.
The core network of 5G must be dynamic, efficient, and scalable to connect new devices, deliver high performance, meet ever-rising traffic demands, and extend services over any access technology, according to Nokia. And it argues that a cloud-native core is the only way to achieve these goals.
“What’s needed is a core that can operate in any cloud environment, whether that is based on VMs or containers, and that has a breadth of cloud-native capabilities,” according to the blog. Those capabilities encompass microservices architecture, agnostic infrastructure, open APIs, and DevOps.
“This allows operators to deploy a cloud-native core that can competitively support all access technologies, mobile and fixed,” Nokia explained. “It can be rolled out to support existing 4G services, and it’s ready to deliver the more exciting business opportunities when the move to 5G Standalone deployment is made.”
Nokia isn’t alone in this view. A new report from ABI Research contends that the “momentum of enterprise 5G will come to screeching halt without a cloud-native platform.” The firm predicts the market for cloud network elements in 4G and 5G networks will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 25% reaching $20 billion by 2024.
However, because cloud-native computing poses some challenges for operators that are primarily focused on a specific country or region, “there is no one-size-fits-all model that [managed service providers] can adopt in a way that is sufficiently impactful and not disruptive,” said Don Alusha, senior analyst at ABI Research, in a prepared statement.
Prior to deploying a cloud-native 5G platform, network operators are trying to determine if it will help them re-engineer existing processes, scale across a wide geographic and technology footprint, and acquire the human capital required to foster global software-centric operations, according to the firm.
While cloud-native technology is imperative to drive new growth, it also requires changes in culture and processes, and this necessitates operators and vendors to develop new areas of expertise, ABI Research concludes. It noted that Nokia and Ericsson are both aiming to blend strengths in telecom, artificial intelligence and cloud to deliver that framework in a commercial offering.
EMnify Wins 2021 IoT Breakthrough Award
Leading IoT Communication Cloud provider EMnify, today announced that it has been selected as the winner of the “M2M Cellular Service Provider of the Year” award in the 5th annual IoT Breakthrough Awards program conducted by IoT Breakthrough, a leading market intelligence organization that recognizes the top companies, technologies and products in the global Internet-of-Things (IoT) market today.
EMnify provides a cloud communication platform for IoT. It enables digital-native companies with high growth IoT products to scale across networks worldwide with a single API. Its solution enables entrepreneurs and developers around the world to accelerate their IoT projects with a service tailored to their needs. Companies can now access fast and secure connectivity, without border barriers, and monitor usage through one platform.
“Most vendors focus only on the connectivity aspect, ignoring the customer’s need for simplicity, deep and flexible integration, security and maintainability of their fast-growing IoT solutions,” said Frank Stöcker, co-founder and CEO of EMnify. “We’re transforming complex cellular connectivity into an easy to consume cloud offering by bringing the proven superior philosophies of CPaaS and Cloud-Native SaaS to IoT. This makes us the vendor of choice for digital native companies. This award from IoT Breakthrough validates our mission to revolutionize the IoT and turn its promise into reality.”
“EMnify is the first independent company to fully develop and operate a mobile core network infrastructure as a native cloud service, facilitating a ‘breakthrough’ evolution of the IoT with a single API,” said James Johnson, managing director at IoT Breakthrough. “Congratulations to the team and all the incredible experts at EMnify for breaking through the burgeoning IoT space. We are so pleased to award them with ‘M2M Cellular Service Provider of the Year.’” Transparency, security and constant innovation make EMnify the best partner to thousands of companies. Their technology experts help to efficiently deploy solutions worldwide with global cellular networks.