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At a time when technology is advancing so rapidly, collaborating within an open ecosystem is essential to harnessing 5G's full potential. Our partners are driving innovation in 5G edge computing, sustainability, hybrid cloud and open RAN. We as an industry are on the cusp of unprecedented opportunities. Let’s take a look at some of the transformative work our partners are doing together, and with Red Hat, to better understand the role that they can play in your 5G success.

Read excerpts below from keynotes and panel sessions at the recent Red Hat Open5G virtual event and access full sessions on-demand here to learn more.

The evolving 5G landscape

Masum Mir, senior vice president and general manager, Provider Mobility, Cisco: In many of the deployments around the world, we are seeing the rise of 5G and the first adoption of a non-standard approach to 5G, but this is only the first step. We expect over the next couple of years, there's going to be more adoption of 5G around the world with standalone technologies becoming even more prevalent. This is where we need to think about how to deploy 5G architecture in a more distributed way, both for enterprises as well as service providers.

That inflection point of bringing enterprise and service providers tighter and closer together, and automating for simplicity of consumption, is going to be our next frontier. It is not only 5G that we should be thinking about. We should also think about digitization of businesses and how to deliver more and more enterprise applications by open systems, so that developers and enterprise applications can truly consume the network more effectively.

We can also fit this 5G technology into the enterprise ecosystem more cleanly so it doesn't create another silo of technology. Rather, it becomes an integral part of the journey for enterprises to become more digital and remain secure and natively adopt a cloud technology, both for their usage as well as their infrastructure. Red Hat is playing a critical role in this journey with Cisco and we are looking forward to even more innovation jointly driving together for 5G adoption for enterprise and IOT use cases in the future.

A more sustainable approach to RAN

Rimma Iontel, Chief Architect, Global Telco, Red Hat: Research shows that a large part of the network power consumption is due to the radio access network (RAN), so there is significant focus on optimizing RAN. But there are also plenty of other opportunities for power optimization across other networking components deployed throughout the data centers, including core IT and operational networks.

Red Hat works with upstream communities with standard bodies and our industry partners to support telco customers in their sustainability journey. We are looking at the holistic approach of applying optimizations across different domains, from individual nodes and full clusters in cloud deployments to the entire footprint of network services. Our starting point is observability with development and adoption of open source monitoring tools to more accurately collect power consumption data across the network. This data then can then be analyzed using modern AI-based tools and machine learning models to produce regulatory reports when needed, but more importantly, to create sets of improvement recommendations to fine tune configurations, optimize workload placements efficiently, utilize available resources and improve future network planning.

Oscar Toorell, Head of Technology, Engineering Unit Cloud RAN, Ericsson: Basically, 75% of the energy consumption in telecommunications networks is coming out of the radio end, which is typically what you see sitting on a mass somewhere close to your neighborhood. So, Ericsson has been working for many years to minimize the energy consumption in the radios and make sure that they have a footprint with their purpose-built solutions that consumes the least possible energy. And of course, this includes new software features, new lines of radios, but also Cloud RAN. When it comes to Cloud RAN, they are working in a desegregated system, they collaborate with others like Intel and Red Hat to build the most power efficient system, all the way from the core nodes into the raw nodes and into the radios with observability and a clear energy consumption goal for operators.

The role of AIOps in telco

Stephen Rose, General Manager, Global Telco and Distribution Industries, IBM: A lot is changing, so the role of the site reliability engineer (SRE) or anybody that works in a network operations center, is changing. Networks are becoming much more complex. Of course, the topology of the network is becoming more complex and dynamic. We're seeing a lot more demand for service performance and service assurance on the networks. There's significant focus on operating and maintaining my network functions and my network resources to the hottest level possible without, obviously then, compromising on quality or security. It's an ever-evolving landscape.

We tend to think about AIOps in a number of different ways, but we look at it through a network performance management lens. This goes beyond the network level, including the cloud and applications. We also think about it in terms of application resource management and FinOps. There's a number of different areas that we need to cover to make sure that the cloud array, network and resources are running and operating at the lowest possible TCO, reasonably. Because the world has moved away from break-fix, we've got to also move toward a more dynamic and proactive assurance on the network.

Min Xie, Senior Research Scientist, Telenor: We are currently building a large scale 5G experimentation platform to support both internal business unit stakeholders and external European Union funded projects and vertical customers. The platform we are building is cloud-native but also large scale across multiple technology domains and multiple sites. The 5G core is provisioned by multiple vendors jointly, and the complexity is extremely high. Meanwhile, we need to support multiple vertical customers concurrently, and each of them has quite different requirements in terms of KPIs, KVIs, security and isolation. Now, many customers also want the 5G network to expose network functions and capabilities as well as network data. All these requirements are very diverse and can be a challenge to support while guaranteeing performance requirements.

In order to achieve that, we needed to automate the network operations and the management, for which we used AIOps. Telenor is now collaborating with our partners to build up the testing platform so that they can collect data from different domains, different components, and for different types of services.

The transformation of open RAN

Brandon Larson, Senior Vice President of Platform and Al, Mavenir: We see a real desire to innovate and a belief that tapping into a broader ecosystem of suppliers is the key to bringing state-of-the-art technology and new ideas into the telco space. With open RAN, we see a lot of this innovation actually being built on top of cloud technologies, such as Red Hat OpenShift. For example, we're using Fluenty, Kafka, Git, Argo, all this great Kubernetes technology, to evolve traditional telco ONM frameworks. And the reason we do that is because the telco frameworks, as we transition to 5G and 6G, really have to handle more sophisticated operations like orchestration, slicing and zero-touch operations.

We're also continuing to see a growing interest in leveraging state-of-the-art AI/ML techniques for telco operations. Going out into the marketplace, finding what's the latest and greatest in AI/ML, and bringing it into the telco environment to solve telco operations problems. That in itself, because AI/ML requires such sophisticated data processing, is going to require more sophisticated ONM frameworks, and those are going to need to be based on developing cloud technologies as well.

Geetha Ram, WW Head of Telco Compute, Hewlett Packard Enterprise: One other thing that I would like to add is that zero-touch provisioning and automation are very key. Whether it is software from Red Hat, the OS CAS layer or workload software, or software from a Mavenir or NEC, all of that needs to be automatically deployed, maintained, supported with zero-touch provisioning. That's another thing that needs to evolve. From a primetime perspective, those two things, power and automation are still in the works, but the other two are catching up, if not even better, in some cases, with the appliance.


About the author

Honoré LaBourdette is Vice President of the Telco, Media, Entertainment & Edge Ecosystem at Red Hat. In this role, she has global responsibility for the success of partners including NEPs, ISVs, OEMs, Global Systems Integrators and Hyperscalers. Honoré and her team work to ensure rapid deployment of cloud-native applications at scale leveraging Red Hat’s open hybrid cloud technologies for 5G, OSS/BSS, cloud RAN and cloud networking, from core to cloud to the far edge.

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