Telecommunications transition to the cloud

server telecommunications transition to the cloud

The Telco Cloud or Telecommunications Cloud phenomenon

With the arrival of 5G, the cloud is a main topic in the sector due to the telecommunications transition to the cloud. In this article, we’ll talk about this phenomenon and its characteristics.

 

What does cloud or cloud computing mean in telecommunications?

We use the cloud without even realizing it. It starts from the moment your computer connects to the internet. Your Internet provider moves the data from your device to its closest data processing center. Then, by using a web address (Dropbox.com for example) or an IP address, it takes your data to the destination server. It processes your data, operates with the information, and gives you an answer. Since the data is in the cloud, the device from which the process is done doesn’t matter.

This trip time is so short (milliseconds) that everything happens very fast. The only problem that can arise is when we relate to the Internet of Things (IoT), in which we need the latency and the server responsiveness, to be very low, every millisecond is important.

Most of the telecommunications cloud deployments to date have focused on network functions virtualization (NFV). In NFV, telcos replace expensive dedicated networking equipment with common out-of-the-box tools that perform network functions such as “virtual” (VNF). With software-defined networking, we can manage, control and configure the network functions that now run as software through software applications and a portal. With the use of automation and artificial intelligence, many of these tasks will no longer require humans and will become increasingly proactive rather than reactive.

 

The Telco Cloud or Telecommunications Cloud phenomenon

Telco cloud or network function virtualization infrastructure (NFVI) is an optimized cloud environment for telecommunications workloads business. Telco workloads have very specific requirements. These include performance acceleration, a high level of security, and orchestration capabilities.

server engineer telecommunications transition to the cloud

Telco workloads in the cloud

Behind a network socket or your WI-FI router, there is an infrastructure that provides the connection. It consists of thousands of interconnected services, including firewalls, base transceiver stations (BTS) to provide mobile connection, voice, and data aggregation systems, etc.

Historically, cloud services were implemented on hardware. Today, however, service providers are moving towards software-based network services. As software-based network services are deployed on top of virtual machines (VMs) or containers, service providers can simply run them in a cloud, benefiting from lower operating costs and improved agility.

However, a telecommunications cloud of this type must meet certain criteria before network services can be deployed on top of it. These criteria for a perfect telecommunications transition to the cloud are performance, security, and orchestration.

 

Performance

It is important that telco workloads achieve comparable performance results regardless of whether they are implemented on hardware or software. However, this is challenging, as virtual machines often cause performance degradation. To solve this problem, telecom clouds implement a lot of performance extensions. Among them are such extensions as single root input/output virtualization (SR-IOV), data plane development kit (DPDK), or central processing unit pinning (CPU).

 

Security

In addition to the performance of the Telco Cloud, security is also important. Telcos provide security and therefore the telecommunications cloud must also provide the desired level of security. For obvious reasons, the telecommunications cloud is also deployed locally in most cases. Subsequently, the security team can use standard technologies. For example, it can use packet inspection or data encryption, to protect the telecommunications cloud at each layer of the infrastructure stack.

 

Orchestration

Software-based network services are often very complex. They consist of multiple interconnected components (network functions) that are often distributed over multiple substrates. Therefore, having a tool that can organize resources, implement network services, and maintain them after deployment is important for service providers. Among several proprietary and open-source solutions, a MANO open-source (OSM) project has recently gained momentum. It allows telcos to have management and orchestration (MANO) capabilities.

 

In addition, there are still a number of key needs that we should take into account for the Telco cloud:

  • Interoperability between functions, management systems, and orchestration of different providers.
  • Open platforms, independent of the provider.
  • Features that surpass anything we’ve seen before. 

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