Telco Cloud and Application characteristics for 5G and Edge Native World


Cloud computing use in the Telecom industry has been increasingly adopted during the last decade. It has changed many shapes and architectures since the first phase of NFV that started back in 2012. In today’s data hungry world there is an increasing demand to move Cloud architectures from central clouds to loosely coupled distributed clouds both to make sense from cost perspective by slashing transport cost to anchor all user traffic back to central data centers but also certainly from security perspective where major customer prefers to keep data on premises. Similarly, with the Hyperscale’s and public cloud providers targeting Telco industry it is evident that the future Cloud will be a fully distributed and multi cloud constituted by  many on-premise and public cloud offerings.

Since 5G by design is based on Cloud concepts like 

  • Service based architectures
  • Micro services
  • Scalar
  • Automated

Hence it is evident that many operators are embarking on a journey to build open and scalable 5G clouds that are capable to handle the future business requirements from both Telco and industry verticals. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the key characteristics of such Clouds and how we must collaborate with rich ecosystem to make 5G a success to achieve industry4.0 targets.

Cloud Native Infrastructure for 5G Core and Edge

Cloud native do not refer to a particular technology but a set of principles that will ensure future Applications are fully de-coupled from the Infrastructure, on atomic level it can a VM or container or may be futuristic serverless and unikernels. As of today, the only community accepted Cloud native standard for 5G and Cloud is an OCI compliant infrastructure. In general cloud native for Telco means a Telecom application as per 3GPP , IETF and related standard  that meets criteria of Cloud native principles as shared in this paper, support vision of immutable infrastructure, declarative and native DevSecOps for the whole Infrastructure.

Cloud native is the industry defacto for develop and deliver applications in the Cloud and since 5G by its design is service based and microservice enabled so the basic principle for 5G infrastructure is Cloud native which will support scalability, portability, openness and most importantly flexibility on board a wide variety of Applications.

As per latest industry studies the data in 5G era will quadruple every year this will make Cloud native a necessity to provision automated infrastructures that will be fully automated, support common SDK’s and above all will enable CI/CD across the full application life cycle

Scalability to deploy services in many PoP’s is the other key requirements for 5G along with possibility to build or tear the service on the fly. As 5G deployments will scale so is cloud instances and it is a necessity that future Cloud infrastructure can be scaled and managed automatically

Application portability is the other key characteristics of 5G cloud. As 5G use cases will become mature there is an increasing requirement to deploy different applications in different clouds and to connect them is a loosely based meshes. In addition, as Network capacities and usage will increase the applications must be capable to move across the different clouds

What Cloud means for Telco 5G

Telco operators through their mission critical infrastructure holds a seminal place in the post covid-19 digital economy. Telecom networks use impacts economy, society, commerce and law order directly this is why Telecom networks are designed with higher availability, reliability and performance.

The biggest challenge for Cloud Native Infrastructure for

Telco lies

  • Granularity of Telco App decomposition
  • Networking
  • Performance acceleration
  • O&M and Operational frameworks

Due to the reason that Telco 5G applications need to fulfill special SLA based performance and functions which somehow are not possible in the containerized and Kubernetes based Cloud platforms of today so we must define a Telco definition of Cloud. Similarly, how we will connect workloads E-W is very important. The questions become more prevalent  as we move towards edge .  The downside is that any deviation from standard Cloud native means we cannot achieve the promised of Scaling, performance and distribution the very purpose for which we have built these platforms ,

Any tweaks on the cloud principles means we can not provision and manage a truly automated Cloud Infrastructure following DevSecOps which is so vital to deliver continuous updates and new software codes in the 5G infrastructure. Lacking such functions means we can not meet fast pace innovation requirements which are necessary for the 5G new use cases specially for the vertical markets

The last and most important factor is leveraging advances from hyper scalers to achieve Cloud and 5G deployments , today we already see a movement in market where a carrier  grade Clouds from famous distros like IBM can be deployed on top of public clouds but here top question  impacting is whether  “abstraction will impact performance” ,  the one top reason NFV first wave was not such disruptive because we defined so many models and used model to define another model which obviously added to complexity and deployment issues . Cloud Native for 5G Telco need to address and harmonize it as well

Applications for 5G

Application economy is vital for the success of 5G and Edge . However, based on T1 operators’ deployments of open 5G platforms has revealed that just deploying a open Infrastructure is not enough as adherence of Cloud by application vendors will vary and to truly take advantage of Cloud it is vital to define principles for a Infrastructure lead delivery by devising frameworks and tools to test and benchmark the 5G applications  classification as Gold , Bronze , Silver with common direction to achieve a fully gold standard applications in the 5G era . Although Cloud native by principles support vision to achieve common, shared and automated infrastructure but it is easier said than done in real practice as achieving a Telco grade conformance for

Telco services is complex that require rigorous validation and testing. Based on real Open 5G cloud deployments and corresponding CNF benchmarking there are still certain gaps in standards that need  both standardization and testing.

  • Application resources over committing
  • Application networking dependence that slows scaling
  • Use of SDN in 5G Cloud
  • Lack of Open Telemetry which makes customized EMS mandatory
  • Hybrid management of VNF and CNF’s

Luckily there are a number of industry initiatives like CNCF ConformanceCNTT RI2  , NFV NOC ,  OPNFV  which fundamentally address this very issues and already we have seen the results  . It is vital that 5G Cloud infrastructures are capable to support east to use SDK’s and tools that vendors and developers can use flexibly to offer and deploy different applications in the 5G era.

In Next Part I shall try to elaborate how Open Telemetry and Automation is driving next era of growth using ML and AI driven solutions


Rethink Telco grade Edge Architectures and Solution requirements in 5G Era

5G Markets are developing at a horrendous pace and one thing which is a shared believe across industry is importance of “Edge Networks” to monetize 5G . There are many players in the picture both from Hyperscalers and on-prem vendors and big hybrid cloud players each ready to flood market with “Edge solutions” however fragmentation in this critical component means there will be varying different models of “Edge” consumption which obviously will be a bottleneck to its global adoption .

The purpose of this paper is to share my thoughts around how important is to align on principles and Specs in order to make possible for Telco’s to Mix and Match between different players . First of all when we view Edge from Telecom Operator perspective it means

“Support of Cloud like characteristics near to service consumers including Network boundary (Network Edge) or customer boundary (Customer Edge)”

Below is the summary of those principles that needs to be followed to build a robust “Edge” that can delivers a global scale .

#1:Cloud or Edge

Cloud vs Edge is same like Electricity Generation and Distribution , we know both are important and both need to be modernized over time . With most Apps becoming Cloud Native the core principle is to move those Apps towards Edge which are obviously impractical to host on central cloud due to many factors including regulatory , privacy , latency ,data reduction or technical feasibility aspect . Even in this case the two clouds need to co-exist like Cloud can support Edge clouds to deliver data based solutions , AI use cases or simply use Edge API’s to deliver an E2E use case.

source: Kubecon

#2:Operational Model

With thousands and may be million of devices at edge the real question is how we can operate it using same cloud type principles we learnt during so many years . It also need to re-use same CI/CD pipelines and test/on-boarding mechanisms they used for Cloud and not just limited to Private but also Public Clouds .

#3:Data and Privacy

Every business is a Digital Business and being secure is now a must have not a nice to have. As a result businesses are assessing their cyber security and resilience posture that are fully compliant with both Data and Privacy concerns , determining where they have gaps and what they need to do about them.  A leading Infrastructure provider like Dell Technologies has a valuable role to play, ensuring that security is intelligent, automated and built into everything, everywhere.

Data protection regulations differ between countries and regions (such as the EU). The Edge architecture needs a flexibility to meet Data Protection requirement set by each country and operator

#4:LCM and Day2

What makes Edge a “Ranch” is it is a rugged environment with constraint resources , further tenants are dynamic and commercial model do not enforce a long term commitment something Public clouds always love to have . So ability and build and importantly tear down service on the fly is a must . In addition application mobility strategy that includes QoE, geographical store and privacy policies;

#5:Global Scale and Mobility

One area that is still un-touched is how to open Global Edge owned by 100’s of operators using same API exposure to Developers .In other words Developer can develop Apps in Verizon same way as it can do for Telstra in Australia . It require solve certain issues like

  1. How to ensure build Edge globally using same principles at least for developers
  2. How to assure service consistency during Mobility
  3. Support for roaming where VPLMN can ensure to deliver same service with same QoE something we in Telecom industry has never done
  4. Able to receive geographical UE mobility events (e.g. when leaving a pre-defined area) from the network or the UE.

Ideally, mobility is handled invisibly to the application’s end-user by the mobile network operator.

#6:Securing the Edge

In explaining Core vs Edge , obviously we expect “Edge” to be universally secure . It require not only “Cloud” all security specs to be followed but also Some specific things related to Edge which are of importance

  1. Data ingestion and analysis real time e.g to auto lock once a physical intrusion is detected.
  2. Real time Telemetry based on Streaming and eBPF principles
  3. Support Silicon root of trust e.g Intel v7
  4. Residual data clean up (A known issue in industry)
  5. “Configuration” related CVE poses a biggest threat to Edge security and use of ML/AI to detect and manage “Configuration” and MME (Man made errors) is a must for Edge architectures.

#7:API and Dev to proliferate Edge

Edge require a new way to expose #API and how to define its Specs. Our recent work with in GSMA Edge group may be a good starting point to take #Telco grade view to this #software problem by adressing following .

1. How Different Edge (Public , Private , Hybrid all will expose same end points)

2: How to smoothly tear down an Edge service

3: what are #VNF and #CNF package requirements and how it is different from #ETSI Sol and IFA Specs ? how much we can re-use

4: How to extend #Cloud Infra #CICD to Edge with maximum re-use

5: Monitor Edge resources in real time

6: What are tools and catalog for #Edge , can we re-use #NFVO VNF catalog at the edge and if so how ? as it should be a distributed architecture but managed centrally .

7: How #Dev can ensure #Edge resilience , consider a situation when a 5G and its #Edge resources are down ,

can services can switch consider it was a non H/A site (Again consider $ cost , we can not afford it ).

How #Edge availability can be achieved specially where own Telco sites are not available and need to rely on other Partners and #Telco‘s , how to ensure same service with same QoE for #Dev

#8:Resource Management

Once we imagine the Edge the first and most important feature that comes to mind is resources . Following should be available on Edge Resources

  1. Inventory for all resources
  2. Usage of resources via real time monitoring
  3. Cloud resource reservation mechanism exposure following “need to Know” mechanisms
  4. Configuring UE App’s to get real time view on customer experience
  5. Support of resource sharing using USRP and other mechanisms
  6. Visibility in the Cloudlet locations based on 3GPP LBO mechanisms
  7. Give fair insights of UE and App Mobility in changing resource scnerios
  8. Support “Intent” and “Policy” enforcement through Orchestration and Cloud Infra tools whether Edge is a Public or a Private

Ideally the Edge Data Model must give same level of resources exposure and management capabilities to developers of Telco as it can give to Developers outside home country through E-W connectivity and necessary Mobility arrangements

#9:Resource Discovery and Catalog

As developers will build and deploy Applications it becomes increasingly important to have same tools and catalogs that they can use . Normally they can be accessed via E-W API or through MEF and upper layer Orchestration capabilities . The parameters expected are

  1. Location details
  2. Infra resources keeping view of stateful workloads
  3. Acceleration resources like GPU , vPU , NPU and Smart NICS
  4. QOS profiles both for Provisioning and Monitoring aspects .Monitoring is vital for resources discovery to ensure only valid resources are available for provisioning , this is a complex as it is not just limited to Cloud resources but also need analyze Network topology , transport characteristics etc
  5. Cost budgets for each AZ , this information is vital (e.g. the use of several small zones, that combined, cover the needed Region and are offered by different partners, instead of a more extensive and expensive zone offered by another partner)

#10:Redefining Edge Application with Telecom Grade

Since there are many Edge and some are infact commercial for long time so it is vital to end the Edge architectures for 5G era with a touch on what is Edge Native for 5G era or simply can we build an Edge application with 5 9’s reliability and a Telco grade that can be benchmarked with same characteristics as provided by large OEM 5G Core CNF’s ? . Such App need to know the App characteristics from user perspective and those App components and architectures needed to manage it .

  1. Edge application package and artefacts standardization to onboard using uniform capability
  2. Flavor characteristics consider the fact it can be a different flavors in different Telco’s , Flavor exposure before instantiation is the best Model for a Edge App
  3. QOS characteristics like Location , Identify , Quality and security
  4. App state profile to ensure all such components are sinned in a coordinated fashion
  5. Deployment models needs to be flexible but in certain cases Telco should be ale to select all details of what type of Edge cloud it want to deploy App
  6. Elasticity profile like how it will scale as per load demand
  7. Resource migration e.g whether it needs to be auto or steered by customers
  8. App and Edge cloud coordination is vital , ideally it needs to be de-coupled but we know from experience in Telecom Clouds for many use cases such information coordination between different layers is a key
source: Kubecon 2021

In a summary we can see that the Edge Cloud and Application with Telecom characteristics is quite different than normal Edge applications available today and mostly offered through public clouds delivery model . It is very important to bring experience from both Telco Clouds and Orchestration/Automation platforms together with NaaS and connectivity framework something Telco’s has been doing for long time .

 Experience from Telco Cloud , Orchestration/Automation and NaaS connectivity is the future of Edge Infrastructure and Applications 

Final thoughts on how Remote Work will influence Edge Architectures

According to World Economic forum report Sixty-five percent of children starting school today will work in jobs that have not been invented yet .

This re-confirm that there is a different sort of infrastructure required for new era and it will require Edge and EUC (End user compute) and user devices to work in conjunction . Ideally we want to make end device nimble and hence “Edge” solution should off load most heavy lift from end device and still ensuring

  1. Worker productivity (At least 4X times compared to today)
  2. Secure work environment with notion that all users will be #WFH primarily accessing the services from remote and hostile access locations that may be an easy Ransom and CVE target
  3. Data sovereignty and policy , although organizations go remote still IT like same type of control e.g Data sharing , employee accessibility , usability etc
  4. Auto optimization using ML/AI to ensure infra , tools and software is optimized on a per user level based on his/hear usage trends and not a generalized Infra which is not optimized
  5. Lastly the security of end user devices through Edge solutions is vital including data analytics ,configuration audits and steer mechanism like auto lock and reboot will be both vital and exciting how Edge solutions need to solve some of the issues of remote Work and its productivity .

I guess this will be an exciting era of Edge and User experience .

Edge + End user productivity solution cohesion is the future of work in post covid-19 world and Infrastructure providers like Dell who operate in both domains is in ideal situation to solve this complex requirement in a simple yet efficient manner 

Hyperscaler(AWS,Azure,Google) Tools and Services summary with focus on Data , AI and CTK’s

Cloud ArchitectureKey Use cases and Capability
HA and redundancyBuild HA and DR
Build offload Capacity For Capacity burst create on the Cloud
Cloud ArchitectureHybrid Cloud and VMware Cloud Engine
App ModernizationAgility with Anthos
Expand InfrastructureExpand , Migrate , Retire using App migration tools
As part of solving any Organization challenges and create new business opportunities “Cloud” is at the central stage
Cloud first as top priority for all major Telco's and Enterprise as a way to unfold future 

A right Cloud strategy is not just to save cost but to create value by untethering IT from low value mundane tasks towards innovation and creating value through new capability , tools and services .

Since there are so many solutions and offerings it is important to select an architecture that allows customer to select the best of both worlds that also solves App migration and co-existence issues . Finally as architect It’s about understanding the pros and cons of the options and making the right architecture choices .

Where to begin?

Understanding your starting point is essential to planning and executing a successful application migration strategy. Take a comprehensive approach, including not only technical requirements, but also consideration of your business goals (both present and future), any critical timelines, and your own internal capabilities. Depending on your situation you might fall in any of the below categories as it relates to time-to-value. There is no one size fits all approach to migration but the key here is to know that whichever path you choose, there is always a way to build on top of that and continue to take more advantages of the cloud in an incremental fashion. 

How to evaluate Different Clouds

With 100’s of services across a number of big Players including below

  1. AWS (Amazon Web Services) from Amazon
  2. Azure from Microsoft
  3. GCP from Google
  4. IBM Cloud from IBM
  5. Ali Cloud from Ali Baba
  6. OCI (Oracle Cloud Infrastructure) from Oracle

Its always a difficult choice how to select which use case is best for which and to remember their services . Below is a quick cheat sheet that may be of help

AWS Services

Azure Services

Google Cloud Services

Google Cloud Platform - Google Cloud Platform for Developers

Google Cloud Cheat Sheet


There is a excellent blog summarizing some key aspects on GCP including deploying your VMware Cloud (VCP) environment on Google Infrastructure .

Below is one quick video on Data and how it makes easy with Google Data Fusion

For Cloud Migration can refer to below with focus on some key use cases.


  1. Publicly available information

Commercial readiness for E2E Slicing and PNI based Private Mobility Architectures and Solutions (1/2)

According to the latest GSMA report 5G connections will grow at CAGR of 100% every year till 20205 making 500M+ connections today pass 2.9B + in 2025 .

Even in terms of global spend we have seen in 2020 50% of Carrier’s spend in more than 140 Big Telco’s who deployed 5G went for 5G related deployments. By 2025 we expect 80% of Telco’s spend will go directly or in directly in 5G .

This data proves there is a big gap still exists between what technology has enabled us to achieve in 5G and business models like Sell out , Sell in , B2B , Aggregation , roaming etc which will enable us to make money from 5G .

When it comes to making a strong business in 5G is to monetize vertical markets by minimizing dedicated NPN (Non public networks) use through support of Wider use cases using “Network Slicing” by using as

much Public Networks of Telco’s as possible .

In these two part Epilogue , i will focus on key industry progress and what is possible today in this Part1 followed by holistic analysis of Gaps in Part2 specially on RAN and Transport side and to see how we can solve them in 2022-2023 Era .

Commercial Network Slicing Journey Cart on the Go

We as a Industry waited for 3GPP Release16 (ASN.1 ready on June 2020) to really experiment with 5G slicing although its early specs are already ready in Release15 , this was primarily to really make Slicing appealing with

  • New use cases support specially on uRLLC , mIOT and eMBB QOS , as we all know the advances on V2X , QOS and vertical use cases is a key for 5G and so for slicing .
  • SBA and software control require not only 3GPP specs but more modular approaches to build NF’s which is not possible in VNF era

Having said this there is no real commercial deployment of Network slicing , those which are ready are limited in scope and variety and not serve a wide industry .In order to speedup deployment with “ready architectures” it is vital to keep pace with following

  1. Alignment with terminals and chipsets to support all slicing profiles and NST’s
  2. Definition of business models including roaming
  3. Upgrades on OSS/BSS and E2E SO to support slicing functions like CSMF , NSMF and Assurance systems
  4. Test a number of use cases with different characteristics
  5. Test agility at scale
  6. Focus on RAN and Transport Slicing
  7. Test additional partners specially ISV’s

This a general state of industry progress and we expect solving above challenges sequentially is the way forward to ensure wide industry adoption is ready by 2023 .

Focus on Private Networks vs Slicing

There is an ever going discussion between different industry players to favor one over others specially Telco’s obviously whose main target is to capitalize publuic networks vs Hyperscale’s and private business whose focus is on building dedicated Private Networks .

However as with major facets of life there is tradeoff always and so is case for this as it makes sense to offer different use cases via different solution i.e Private Networks or Slicing .

According to the latest research published by Ericsson 90% of addressable revenue in Telco oriented key use cases will come to Telco pockets using slices these industries are Healthcare , Transport ,Government, Utilities and Manufacturing . This is why i believe in 2021-2022 this is where Public Networks need focus on while for other key use cases specially industry of using Dedicated Private Networks .

The use cases between Telco’s and Dedicated can be divided as follows .

Telco Lead

Wide Area use For example health , safety , govt using SNPN (Standalone Non Public Networks)

Industry Lead

Wide Area use For example health , safety , govt using PNI-NPN (Public Network Integrated NPN)

If you want to learn more about this i suggest to keep watching my blogs as based on ANZ market and industry trend i will share latest analysis soon .

Monitoring and AEF (API Exposure Functions)

According to latest research the 5G connections in 2021 EoY will reach 580M+ and with architectures like slicing the type of use cases and services needed to be supported on Telco network will be huge , it will require new paradigms of networks e.g NRF , NDAF and API exposures to third party to build , manage ,sell slices .

The other domain is the observability and monitoring which not only need to solved on Telco Infrasturcture side using solutions like Prometheus , Kibana , ELK but also on Use UE side in the form of inbuilt of separated agents like PicoNeo3 , Immetrix , AVEQ SUrmeter app and use the real time data together with API exposrue to build services .

QOE and SLA as key criteria for PNI Private Networks

The Definition of QOE and SLA is vital both for business reasons and for technical architecture .

As per my analysis the Slicing orchestration and ordering systems must be capable to build slices with following characteristics .

  • Latency—-> E2E packet traversal in real time
  • Reliability —> 5 9’s for Telecom services
  • High Precision —-> characteristics for TSN and high quality networks specially or Release16 based network
  • Security —> Ability to sell Security as a service for enterprise
  • Isolation —> what type of Slice isolation is a must and to have minimum impact on existing Pre-emption based Telecom Services
  • Traffic Patterns:

Traffic patterns is a new and evolving domain because obviously most of Telco’s do not understanding the traffic patterns and architectures of Enterprise which can be strictly East West instead of Telco based North South .

Ability to draw this topology , give visibility , to adjust it and a policy framework to adjust in real time are a must design for slicing solutions

“Can Telco become a Managed service provider as well as Infra Service provider  from RF to applications” offering a solution that has below characteristics

•Flexibility to add New devices or solutions for a use case (E.g Tetra)

•Efficiency e.g resource optimization over time using ML/AI when in cohesion with Public NW

•Data governance and security isolation

•Cost Effective

•Optimize with capacity (Cost /bit ) 

Why i believe above model is a key to success because obviously the unified model with different value will fulfil most use case requirements an example below .

ModelCloud GamingAR/VR
*less also ok
as long as can guarantee it
6FoVNo need Wide FoV with six
Degree of Freedom
MotionNo needTactile Level intellignece

Image quality and real time update is a key characteristics of any X-box style VR service .Bad quality which can not be corrected by FEC will lead to bad CEM and non stable latency will lead to motion sickness and complaints .

E2E Slicing Architectures biggest Gaps

The Private networks delivery using PNI NPN is still not well mature and there needs a full paper to write summary to cover each domain , however i firmly believe during last 18months there is a huge industry push on Core , OSS/BSS side along leaving biggest challenges on RAN and Transport as summarized below

Transport Slicing Architectures

Early commercial use cases of slices has proved slicing implementation in form of VLAN QOS , DSCP of ToS all require IPV6 and novel means to re-design the network .

I think as we start deploy slices it will be more and more hard to imagine any case to deploy any service even in latest 5G Core networks without it being passed via brown filed transport networks .

  • Handoff of QOS and Slice SLA between MW , IP and multi domains
  • Handoff of SLA between Metro and Back bone networks
  • IPV6 traffic engineering as it traverses old legacy MPLS networks
  • Multi domain architectures and to deliver a multi layer
  • Real time routing updates based on slice real time KPI’s

RAN Slicing Architectures

RAN networks are biggest constraint in a Telecom Networks , the further challenge comes when we find a situation where over lay networks i.e Slices infringe with native customer services which are protected by regulatory and Law like transparency and fair usage .

Following are top domains to be addressed on PNI Private Networks

Resource Blocks

Those who work on RAN knows RRB is a biggest bottleneck to ensure service availability vs performance e.g if you have a multi service network how much % you can reserve for each and how much will be shared and what is mechanism to use specially when resources are scarce .

Will resource RRB use will conflict with Fair use principle ?


RAN performance and resource control is more difficult when we combine slices and logical overlays in the context of latest Release16 features like TSN , Non Slot based scheduling and UL pre-scheduling

How Pre-scheduling will impact Resource usage is vital for SLA delivery

Admission Control

How to ensure high priority cases like admission is not blocked in a restraint environment .Connection mode , establishment and steps to allow CAC are all critical

By pass complex RBAC for resource access is vital for RAN use cases delivery in constraint environments


Define architecture , testing and performance for Slice Pre-emption


USRP A.K.A UE Route Selection Policy is a key feature in 3GPP Release16 that makes it possible to deliver control of slices on App level compared to UE level and enable control and relationship between both flows and routing .

It can deliver following controls

  • APP ID
  • IP
  • DNN
  • SSC mode
  • Location
  • Time Window

With the App based services use rise its very important to investigate these novel features nd how it can interwork with both RAN , Transport to deliver end to end services and resilience for the 5G Telecom Networks .

Standardization gaps

Having said this Slicing involves a myriad of services and requirements that are not all covered by Telecom SDO’s and further even with in telecom there are many organizations involves like ETSI , IETF , GSMA , BBF etc .

In my later paper i plan to write towards end of 2021 i will give a summary on the gaps and next steps to ensure we can build a unified architecture that is agreed not only by Telco’s but also by Vertical industry and that can help us build a PNI NPN business models that are global in scale with a promise of roaming as well . Thanks and keep learning keep growing .

Open-RAN Feature analysis for brown Field readiness (Industry outlook 2021+ -Part1/2)

2021+ is a special year with so many announcements for Open RAN , instead of taking a marketing boat of saying everything is cute out there the purpose of these set of posts et all my notes is to share my views on current Open RAN features and status from RAN and Radio perspective and how a phased approach is best both from business and technology feasibility perspective to make it successful to evolve Telco’s RAN towards future Quantum ready communication networks for 5G and beyond .

There are many domains in Open RAN that must be carefully thought to build a open and carrier grade RAN System that i will like to talk about in this post mainly

  • Market drive
  • Integration scope and needs
  • Customer requirements
  • Architectures
  • Security
  • Server Models
  • Site Configurations
  • Relation of RAN with Telco’s Edge Future

Based on latest Chipset and Hardware acceleration progress along with radio’s innovation supported by latest automation suites , it is great to share solution updates along following dimensions .

1. Market

Open RAN is only architecture that can adress future use cases and scaling requirements where simply one supplier can not meet all requirements including alternatives to Silicon

Open RAN is a must architecture to bring necessary resilience in a distributed architecture and bring intelligence on top .

Open RAN will be beautiful as Cloud offerings and capabilities will extend to include the RIC and intelligence together with Cloud scale .

Although this is some dimension industry has to wait for few years .

2. Integration

Horizontal interface integration including E2 is not easy if we bring multi vendor so its not just cloud but CUPS and related 3GPP specs that need more heterogeneity

Second is hoe to make sure different vendors with different understandings will cooperate .One technical dilemma is to align how different vendors with different understandings of Specs can be harmonized

Should Operator take new responsibility or they bring forward a trusted partner solving ecosystem issue is a key

3. Telco Needs 2021+

Following are the top needs telco’s should focus to bring Open RAN in brown fields.

  • Energy —building an efficient energy solution is a must to meet our targets on “Progress made real 2030” so is for business .
  • Orchestration —RAN Orchestration has a unique requirements and we need to focus on it more to mature it
  • Performance comparison with Phyiscal brown field —Build a transparent narrative to compare performance of two worlds is a key

I firmly believe the Hybrid is the reality for Future and present of Telco’s and is for RAN . A way two architectures can co-exists and expand is a key

There will be use cases where Open -RAN will be better than legacy and vice versa is and will be true as well
  • Focus on private Networks—Building indoor capacity and those for Enterprise will be very attractive if we can build and give them this solution ready on optimized servers .

4. Architectures

From architecture and solution packaging side following is the key .

  1. Solution Packages —We must get ready of field integration on RAN to make it ready to work in ZTP way the way we made SD-WAN successful . So we must take complete solution in an E2E manner
  2. SMO and RIC innovation — Need more attention on RIC and SMO RFX than other pieces as it will lead to better performance believe or not
  3. Procurement risk — Analyze software supply chain risk same you analyze hardware and chips shortage .

Software is not about supply but also its continuity and stability and bug control .

5. Security

I am a black box and I have decades of experience so trust me I am secure . I swear it can you trust it ????

A decade in Virtualization and Cloud native architectures proved that security of distributed system is always better when it is ready .

Because a distributed and Open system has more vulnerability points and it needs new dimensions and standards on security to be analyzed . On the contrary the Open systems are always transparent and modular and hence trusted to be more secure

Just not rely only on Cloud or 3GPP security standards but also on ETSI NFV/SEC , CNCF along with latest Security WG inputs on Security

Open RAN increase threat surfaces specially for those that lie outside the Data centers like E2 interfaces between CU and DU and the F1 e.g between O-RU and O-DU as for such cases we needed new ways of mutual authentication with zero trust

Another domain is trusted security certification of X-apps coming from trusted partners that uses signed certificates

One domain often mis managed is defining standard onboarding process between vendors e.g between VMware platform and RedHat RAN platform . As per my experience deviation in these always means open spaces for malicious actors .

Solving multi layer dependence in a standard manner is key to bring secure Open RAN solutions to the market and something better than legacy .

6. Server Models

Finally life is not about dreams its about actions and any software vison we need to package in boxes that customers will buy . This is not only a technical limitation but market reality as well so focus on which vendor will help you make what meet your requirements is a key .

Server Models — Making server models that can deploy on mountains , in trenches , in desert , in parks is vital.

Site configurations — Flexibility to align server with site configuration e.g flexibility on DU+CU co-deployment on site , DU and CU distributed including total DU centralization are all dimensions that are important .

Our latest "Event Start" program in TIP is adressing to analyze and solve all these business scnerios and aligning solutions for that 

Already to post looks heavy on words and topics so i need to conclude it now as Part-1 on analysis for 2021+ RAN disaggregation .

I plan to share part-2 on this covering below domains soon .

  • How to access to ecosystem of use cases
  • Service Validation and Integration
  • Software supply chain
  • Onboarding standardization
  • Testing framework
  • Solution Benchmarking and role of Even star
  • Comparison with current systems and how Telco’s can build RAN roadmaps
  • What is sweet spot for Open-RAN and for what it is ready now

Stay tuned …

Open-RAN as road towards network intelligence and Quantum networks

Last week a session in DT Telecom grounds by Prof. Fitzek raised bars on how to build future networks seeing the bigger picture is what an architect must do and here is why I feel RAN dis-aggregation is key the success of communication networks .

Industry Dilemma at large

Since centuries the way we build communication networks is based on set principles on how to transfer and retrieve information and that principles are now believed to be not true in context of detNets (Deterministic Networks) and randomness theory .


From the time the world has started first call in 1876 it has been about information and not Data but obviously belief’s we set was on assumption that data will be limited or at least in limits as postulated by Shanon and Turing

In other words the Einstein’s relativity theory or Shanon symbol limits all are true but obviously not optimized in the world of communication networks full of randomness and noise .


As per analysis by Dr.Fitzek all the communication based on Shannon’s channel theory is based on certain determinism let’s say 95% deterministic and all algos to encode and transmission follow this between transceiver and receiver however if we reduce determinism or alternatively increase randomness will mean we can build a more robust way to handle information in a world that needs huge data and need more ways to increase determinism to deliver many latency use cases .

Improved information

As data flux will increase and there will be more intelligence needed to process and bring forward meaningful data or we can see evolution of communication in a different paradigm .

Consider the fact the progression will be from networks that were entirely mesh and focus to information to internet which is resilient but less informative to an era where we will again improve network information

This all will be possible as instead of purely on message we will focus on what the intent was

A new 5G and 6G context will be focus on Why to transfer this information instead of what exactly the message from sender was

Open-RAN relevance

As we can see from all the architecture the two domains driving the rise of quantum communication networks are Edge and Open RAN .

  • Edge and Private Mobility as Information which are central will become de-centralized and will be processed at edge bringing only the Intent to the layer up

  • Open RAN as will re-frame
  • the sender by bringing and encoding only the rightful information and continuously tune it that is how communication networks will challenge the speed of lights and approach the Quantum limits

    Future Reference

    Following are some books and updates to my library to navigate the future . Best of luck

    Solving Security Standards for the 5G Telecom Edge

    Opening up Telecom last mile 5G site (“Transport risk”) to many Infrastructure players(“Public ,Silo, Open”) consumed by many developers (“some hackers also” ) with in a rugged Environment approaching freezing cold in blue mountains (“Hardware standards Risk”) is too risky an endeavor and something with zero trust on security which no Telco wished to consider a decade ago .

    This will become more exciting as we move from #staticedge to #movingEdge ( Tractors for Agri and Autonomous cars V2X is that dimension)
    Further proliferation of many and evolving use cases in verticals poses varying #security challenges further complicated by fact that no standards explains TSR requirements in detail for the Edge 

    As per recent study by ETSI and supported by #Cyber#GSMA and #IEC a #Telco carrier grade Telecom Edge must solve following Edge Security challenges with proven roadmaps to be Deployment ready specially considering futuristic #5G deployments

    1. TSR and Govt security standards need global harmony e.g EUCSA , German C5 and NIS ,EAL5 etc
    2. Traditional Telecom encryption like 3GPP SA3 snow5 256bits is challenged by rise of quantum processors
    3. Confidential computing solutions provided by different vendors has no harmony e.g Cisco is too different than Juniper
    4. Platform attestation only protect central cloud need topology attestation for Edge Clouds 
    5 whole system” security monitoring and management framework.
    6 LI architecture and data protection 
    7. Security Assurance systems with data protections using OATH2.0 , JWT etc 

    Solutions going forward:
    1. Use of AI like Intel bfloat16 for running AI for security to build accurate AI/ML models that reflect a wider dataset while retaining the privacy and locality of 
    private and sensitive data
    2. GPU Processing with use of RIC for possible security management and control via 3rd party security X-Apps
    3. Use of Ledger in both Hardware and Cloud is the future
    4 .LI ETSI GR NFV-SEC 011 and retained data protection ETSI GS NFV-SEC 010
    5. Security Assurance systems ETSI SEC 021-027 to prohibit single point of entry 


    Delivering Telco’s 5G Slicing BaaS(Business aaS) offerings through Enterprise and Ecosystem

    With 5G Deployments based on 3GPP Release16 accelerating the appetite to bring value through slicing is increasing which is obvious as many of Telco’s were waiting for 3GPP Rel16 to bring life to some of new use cases which were obviously requested by customers but that were not viable both from technology and business point of view .

    Now it is going to change with 5G Standards along uRLCC , Private Networks and mIOT are hardened and GA for market

    5G slicing will spur new wave of industry innovation through logical split of infrastructure and applications as slices and NaaS offerings as #Telco’s continue to differentiate around throughput
    ,reliability, control and QOS
    with slicing while ensuring enterprise needs of isolation and security .

    But when we talk about slices we must not consider it as a piece of Cake but something that will have a legal business value and huge revenue potential . In addition it will have a Life that needs to be managed like Create, modify and delete a network slice, define and update the set of services and capabilities for a network slice, identify UE and its service requirements and associate it to a network slice .

    Slice as a Service Components

    For slicing to work the Slicing Manager must have following components

    1. Slice Design
    2. Slice Automation
    3. Slice modeling and Orchestration
    4. Slice O&M

    Each of this is a big topic specially when we consider a model to automate both design time and run time . Similarly integration is slicing manager to SBI and to make sure it can enforce slices and monitor/manage them in real time is very important and requires a detailed discussion and not topic of this writeup . Lets summarize how to approach slices business and as Telco what are key focus areas and use cases

    Slicing as an Ecosystem

    It is true that Slicing is brilliant having said it is not simple and if we have to make it successful we need to make it simple through simplification like Open API for developer and promote System level interaction using platform level abstraction .

    Delivery of Ecosystem is more important than ecosystem to promote such solutions compared to Closed Ecosystem vendor and solutions

    At GSMA after early version of Network Slice requirements NG.116 we have already worked to capture key gaps and how to enable Slicing in live networks that will be summarized in NG.127 E2E Network Slicing Architecture and will be share with community soon . Here i will jut summarize key points to solve Ecosystem issues .

    Slice Potential

    According to latest industry research report shared by #Ericsson and #ArthurD.Little the Top10 industries will drive more than 90% of #Networkslicing requirements.
    This is very important for #Telco’s to approach each use case and industry by priority and customers needs starting from low hanging fruits .

    Following are top 5 considerations and TOp5 Use cases Telco’s must focus on

    Telco’s Key Targets to enable Slicing Business Potential

    1. Start from brown field mindset with customers who already have some established business with #Telco’s like connectivity , infrastructure etc
    2. Telco’s need strong strategy like which industries they will closelty work and key use cases
    3. Understand enterprise needs and current Operating model all the way from Applications O.B to Managed services
    4. How #Telco can lead to control all ecosystem for enterprise in 5G using slicing
    5. To make new use cases work will need #Telco to take more responsibility like evolving from #connectivity provider to service creator
    6. Big enterprises are willing to partner with Telco’s if they can lead eco system and when offer E2E services with industry grade SLA’s

    Slicing Top Use Cases

    Following are top use cases to be considered for 5G in 2021 as low hanging fruit .

    Main use cases are teleoperated driving, coordinated groups of platooning vehicles, automated lane change and real-time situational awareness.

    Top2: Healthcare
    Main use cases are remote procedures in emergencies, precision medicine and rehabilitation robotics

    Top3: Manufacturing
    AR devices will enable improved quality inspection and diagnosis for maintenance workers,
    technicians and operators throughout a plant, as well as remote controlled robots and3D video-driven interaction between collaborative robots and humans.

    Top4: Broadcasting and streaming
    Typical use cases involve UHD (8K+) , VR ,360-degree video

    Top5: Energy
    Typical use cases involve Voltage monitoring , virtual Power plans /Video surveillance , connected remote windfarms

    Ericsson Latest Report

    Storage Architectures for 5G Cloud Native Infrastructure

    Storage solution selection for Cloud Native Infrastructure is quite complex primarily due to the fact whether VM or Container , whether PNF or VNF or CNF the “State” has been the most important characteristics of a Telco Service .One ideal scnerio in 5G era will be UPF resiliency where not only we want real time detection but also to secure end point connections after the new instance is spun up , this requires a strong “Storage” solution that is secure , standard and manages state while keeping infrastructure immutability .

    Although the block stroage is important choice but fact is with 5G use cases and data proliferation the most important decision for Telco and Enterprise is how to manage the unstructured data at scale

    Requirements for a Telco grade Storage solution

    Following are top requirements from Telco perspective to architect the storage solutions

    • A unified solution that is ready for the “Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure” era all the way from Cloud to Core to Edge
    • Scale out expansion model to ensure workloads are not impacted during day2
    • H/A architectures considering the fact not every node have an H/A at Edge how stroage can serve those cost and footprint constraint environments
    • Disaster recovery
    • Day2 operations specially changes ,upgrades and B&R Processes
    • Software Upgrades and Hardware refresh
    • How to ensure Telco grade performance specially as scale of data grows

    Dell Power Scale Storage Solutions

    PowerScale is a new unstructured data storage family based on new PowerScale OneFS 9.0. The new OneFS is optimized to run on PowerEdge-based x86 servers and will accelerate our time to innovation, and your agility to keep up with your customers ever-changing needs. It can offer simplicity at any scale, handle any data, any where, and search within your data to help you unlock it’s potential.

    With a scale-out architecture, capacity and performance are provisioned only as needed without having to over-provision storage or resort to fork-lift upgrades. With a single namespace, single file system environment and Enterprise-class data services customers get simplicity, flexibility and performance with increased efficiency and new automation capabilities.

    Benefits from our accelerated innovation include these new features and models:

    • Simplicity at Any Scale: OneFS increased efficiency and automation capabilities – from 7TB to petabytes scale , with 16TB to 61TB storage per Node
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    • Intelligent Insights: CloudIQ for datacenter insights. DataIQ for data insights.

    It’s a complete solution for unlocking the potential within your data.

    If you want to more do check out PowerScale intro and demo

    What is Dell oneFS

    As unified OS for all DellEMC storage portfolio including Islion, ECS, PowerScale he OneFS file system is based on the UNIX file system (UFS).Each cluster creates a single namespace and file system, without partitions. File system is distributed across all nodes in the cluster and is accessible by clients connecting to any node in the cluster.

    OneFS controls access to free space and to non-authorized files via share and file permissions, and SmartQuotas, which provides directory-level quota management.

    Because all information is shared among nodes across the internal network, data can be written to or read from any node, thus optimizing concurrent performance.

    PowerScale at the Edge

    For the edge we are optimized for data-intensive applications and workloads in the field. For example, you can use a PowerScale F200 at the Edge, let it process that data locally and if needed, replicate back to a F600 at the Core.

    PowerScale F200

    PowerScale F600