5G Drives Seismic Changes to Telco Infrastructure

Orchestration, automation, and a disaggregated multi-vendor ecosystem are required for telcos to succeed with 5G.

We had the opportunity to meet with Partha Seetala, Founder & CEO and Fernando Cerioni, V.P. Product Management at Robin.io which helps accelerate deployment and simplifies operations for data and network-intensive apps on Kubernetes (K8s).

There’s more focus on automation and cloud-native applications for performance and to save on OpEx. Telecoms are focusing on cloud-native rollouts that are data and network intensive. Robin helps bring cloud-native benefits to data and network apps which is hard.

Stateless apps are already on K8s. Multiple apps can share clusters that are cost-efficient. The agile environment results in more productive users. Lifecycle management is fully automated. And, day-2 operations are repeatable and able to be automated so it’s cost-efficient.

However, there are a lot of data and network intensive apps running outside K8s. They are deployed in silos which are inherently inefficient and costly. Rigid deployment impedes innovation. Lifecycle management takes days or weeks. Day-2 operations are disparate, manual, error-prone, and expensive.

Robin’s cloud-native platform has built-in app-aware storage, carrier-grade networking, app workflow manager for advanced placement with advance scheduler, observability, and monitoring with API-driven automation.

Robin has just launched their 5G platform for the next generation of mobile networks with enhanced mobile broadband, massive machine-type communications, ultra-reliable and low-latency to support things like self-driving cars.

5G is a massive improvement to 4G requiring a seismic-change to technology infrastructure which will take 10 years to complete. The transition will need to address centralized management of 10,000’s of RAN, with edge and core clusters. Policy-based closed-loop automation. Define and execute complex DAG-based workflows across RAN, edge, and core.

There’s a shift from closed proprietary technology to more open architecture and disaggregated hardware from companies like Dell and HP. Commercial off-the-shelf hardware will be 40 to 60% less expensive than proprietary hardware.

More data centers are moving to the public cloud. There are significant changes to how mobile networks are being deployed.

There will be a faster time to market. New 5G service in a fraction of the time. New network sites are up and running in hours versus days or weeks.

Elements of the platform include:

  • MOPs Manager -- highly scalable and extensible MOPs, management across hundreds of thousands of new network elements

  • RAN-as-a-service -- deploy, heal, monitor, scale, and upgrade

  • BareMetal-as-a-service -- BIOS, OS, FPGA, Robin K8s, install, monitor, and upgrade

Many of Robin’s current clients are running on VMs but expect to transition to microservices, containers, and cloud over the next three to five years. Robin is already using microservices and containers.

Key features of virtualized network functions and cloud-native network functions for 5G deployments are: fully containerized, microservices-based architecture able to be deployed in public, private, and hybrid clouds; on-demand scale in and scale out; automated lifecycle management; virtual function automated provisioning; support for DevOps service delivery; native container and K8s support; and, interoperability and certified virtualization vendor.

These features result in the following value proposition for telcos:

  • Lower total cost of ownership for next-generation 5G networks with automation and orchestration

  • Faster time to market

  • Hardware and software disaggregation with a multi-vendor ecosystem

  • Increased network-wide availability through real-time self-healing and multi-application placement

Use Case

Rakuten Mobile is using Robin’s platform to be the world’s first cloud-native mobile operator. Automation is key to execution. Automation of orchestration resulted in a more than 30% reduction in OpEx expense. More efficient computing has led to a 40%+ reduction in CapEx. And, automated deployment is reducing time for deployment by 80%. Full sites are operational in 6 minutes versus 10 hours. Rakuten has helped build RM into the world’s first cloud-native mobile operator.

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