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The past year has truly stressed the importance of connectivity to modern life, as the COVID-19 pandemic delivered layers of isolation that were simply unthinkable a few months before its onslaught. Connected devices, from mobile phones and tablets to computers and smart TVs served as a window to the world and a link to the "old normal," helping us retain our human connections while also keeping the world moving during the height of the pandemic.

This same connectivity provided a linkage between the machines and services driving crucial industries and organizations. From the factory floors that fueled the global supply chain to the emergency rooms that adapted to surging demand, being connected wasn’t about "digital transformation;" it was about survival.

The modern networking infrastructure like 5G and edge computing that kept us (and continue to keep us) connected during the pandemic do more than just shuttle data from point A to point B. They’re resilient, scalable and engineered to meet complex demands from core datacenters to the farthest-flung edges.

Leading the charge for more agile connectivity and capacity is Verizon, backed in part by a cloud-native foundation built on Red Hat’s open hybrid cloud technologies.

The future of networking is open

In decades past, service providers built vast, centralized networks from custom-built hardware and embedded, proprietary software. This meant that operators were dependent on a select few vendors for the entire stack - as demand grew, so too did the complexities and need for a better way to grow and evolve.

For leaders like Verizon, this meant embracing open source and cloud-native technologies. The demand facing communications networks needed innovation at scale, which would be difficult and slower to do using solely closed code. Open source provides a common "language" that all members of an operator’s partner ecosystem can speak, providing new ways of integration and interoperability that limit complexity while driving innovation.

Verizon’s 5G core, the crux of its modern networking operations, is built on a foundation of Red Hat OpenShift, the industry’s leading enterprise Kubernetes platform. OpenShift provides a containerized infrastructure that helps Verizon drive 5G and edge computing innovation without overwhelming complexity - containers are operationally more nimble and make it faster to implement changes via "contained" code, limiting the impact to the broader environment.

Scale out, not just up

Scaling up is important to deliver centralized processing power, but what about when latency is a critical factor for an application? Milliseconds can be the difference between success and failure, so Verizon’s next-generation Core efforts are driving a horizontal cloud environment, stretching out (as well as up) to the furthest reaches of the network.

With edge computing footprints that reach closer to the users, Verizon is able to push processing power and 5G core beyond the datacenter, making it possible for innovative applications to deliver their intended experience. This also opens up a new realm of emerging workloads that can drive new customer engagement opportunities, including advanced analytics, artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), augmented reality and more.

It takes a village...or more likely an ecosystem

The power and scale of Verizon’s next-generation network is not just delivered by a single vendor, but by an entire ecosystem of partners united behind open standards and building across a common platform. This is where the power of open source and connectivity meet - with open source driving integration at the foundational level, Verizon is able to deliver innovative applications and services without having to split resources and time to maintain the underlying layers.

The open hybrid cloud technologies from Red Hat provide Verizon’s partners, including IBM and Intel, with an infrastructure backbone to support a wide variety of solutions. Founded on open code, this ecosystem provides the ability for Verizon to lean on the hardware and software that meet specific scale or flexibility needs without having to worry about compatibility or integration. Open source helps not only drive the networks of today, but lays the groundwork for the networks of tomorrow.

We’re proud to work with Verizon as they drive networking forward, whether it's helping our world stay connected during trying times or preparing us for 5G and beyond.


About the author

Chris Wright is senior vice president and chief technology officer (CTO) at Red Hat. Wright leads the Office of the CTO, which is responsible for incubating emerging technologies and developing forward-looking perspectives on innovations such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, distributed storage, software defined networking and network functions virtualization, containers, automation and continuous delivery, and distributed ledger.