Telcos are starting to look more closely at using containers, especially as their network functions virtualization (NFV) tests and trials mature and start moving into production. TelecomTV talked with Chris Wright, Red Hat's VP and CTO, who shares this view, and why telcos should start preparing for containerization, in an interview.

Containerization is a lightweight mechanism for isolating running processes so that they are limited to interacting with only their designated resources. Typically, each container provides a single service. For example, in the NFV context this can be thought of as a Dynamic Host Configuration protocol (DHCP) server or a Network Address Translation (NAT) function running in a container – you can have many NAT containers – one per customer/tenant that provides NAT capability to devices inside the Virtual Private Network (VPN). (Read more about containerization and NFV in a post we ran on the Vertical Industries Blog last year.)

As Wright explains in the interview with TelecomTV, NFV is maturing and the telecommunications industry is starting to move it into production, moving physical applications to virtual applications running on virtual platforms like OpenStack.

"The interesting thing is, how do you get the virtual functions moved from physical to virtual and then ultimately into containers," Chris says. "And once you are into containers, you really truly are adopting a cloud-native environment and looking at how you will change your applications to fit into that cloud-native environment."

To support telcos in this journey, Wright points to Red Hat OpenStack Platform, a core infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud computing platform and OpenShift, Red Hat's platform as a service (PaaS), which is a default container management engine.

Containers can play a significant role as telcos digitally transform their operations. According to Wright, containerization can help them mitigate the complexities of cloud infrastructures.

"Containerizing a set of services, like the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) services, and running them on OpenShift, is a good starting point to give you experience with containers," he says.

And moving to containers offers real opportunity for telcos to rethink how they build an application, enabling them to decompose the application into a set of services that have different scaling properties.

"Some of those services may be stateful, some may be stateless. How you manage all that, break it all down into individual components and automate the upgrades and elasticity of those different services is really what container platforms are all about," explains Wright.

We encourage you watch Wright's full interview with TelecomTV.