Spotlight on Tech

How edge cloud platforms are bringing big benefits to the telecom ecosystem

Mehran Hadipour
VP - BD & Tech Alliances
Rakuten Symphony
January 24, 2023
minute read

What is an Edge cloud platform?

Today’s wants make for tomorrow’s needs. The telco edge cloud platform as a paradigm fundamentally speaks to this motto.

A relatively new type of cloud computing architecture, edge cloud platforms, in the simplest of terms, provide a way to host applications and store and process data closer to the end-user. Centralized cloud, while all-pervasive and transformative, often falls short of the demands of the modern-day user, which revolve around extremely low latency, heightened security, and so on. By providing on-demand access to compute, storage and other resources at the edge of the network, with low footprint and hyper-automation, edge cloud platforms overcome this limitation and seamlessly deliver an enhanced and secure, content-rich performance that is required by many emerging business use cases.

Typically, edge cloud architecture benefits the next-generation of data-driven business models, related to retail, automotive, entertainment, manufacturing, healthcare, IoT, and so on, where data needs to be analyzed at the edge, latency is critical and size and speed of data transfer can become impediments. Many of these models are built on cloud-native platforms and tools and are sensitive to performance parameters that ultimately determine their user experience and market worth.

The other challenge besides latency is the availability of hardware and skilled resources at the edge, which makes low footprint and centralized hyper-automation imperatives to the edge cloud platform.

Challenges for telcos – network modernization

As operators embark on their 5G journey, network services must be delivered faster, with lower latency and at a far lower cost. This drives the modernization of network functions and disaggregation, softwarization and containerization of network service delivery. The future of cloud computing will be at the edge of the network where we will see a lot more sensors, device, and machines generating data. The need for an interconnected and multi-organizational edge cloud platform has never been more crucial, especially as we embark on the 5G journey and operators look to provide additional services beyond connectivity to the enterprises they serve. This need has pushed the telecom industry to undergo a major transformation. Traditional telecom network architecture that is rigid and monolithic is rapidly being replaced by a new one that is more intelligent, flexible and agile. This new network architecture, founded on the principles of cloud-native automation and orchestration, software-defined networking (SDN), Open APIs, and network functions virtualization (NFV), will allow operators to offer new edge cloud solutions in real time, with unmatched simplicity across multi-vendor networks. It will accelerate the rollout of services and deliver them to the end-user with low latency, security and high availability, at an affordable cost.

Edge cloud platform: The solution

Rakuten Symphony’s SymworldTM Cloud is a cloud-native Kubernetes-powered platform that is designed from the ground up to support network service delivery extending the efficiency, scalability, and lower cost of cloud-native to network services, including RAN, Core and Edge, while offering a new level of agility, cost, automation and scale benefits. This cutting-edge telco edge cloud solution is purpose-built to deliver services at the edge for variety of use cases.

SymworldTM Cloud’s innovative orchestration and cloud-native platforms automate lifecycle operations and accelerate the deployment of network services from days to minutes at the core, edge and in the multi- and hybrid cloud. The offering allows operators to experience hyper-converged Kubernetes for the stateful edge at its best, enabling them to deploy applications as a service at the edge and simplify and future-proof their cloud-native transformation.

SymworldTM Cloud has solved the key challenges operators face at the edge in a live-production environment. It is already in production in Rakuten Mobile with millions of subscribers, and with proven benefits such as reduced CapEx, OpEx, and complexity of lifecycle management, accelerated 5G deployments, and delivering a significant number of new services in record time. Rakuten and other operators have validated the benefits of our cloud solutions, with Rakuten Mobile able to deploy the world's first end-to-end cloud-native, fully container-based 5G network at scale.

The success of SymworldTM Cloud is driven by the expertise and capability it has gained in the below critical areas:

  • The ability to manage stateful workloads: Kubernetes was initially designed for running stateless workloads. However, many network functions require persistent data. SymworldTM Cloud addresses the need to support complex stateful telco workloads using its innovative Cloud Native Storage (CNS) solution that offers data services and data protection that is application-aware and automated.
  • Low-latency enhanced networking: Network services, including Open RAN and core, will need enhanced networking capabilities. SymworldTM Cloud includes an enhanced CNI that supports low-latency networks with SRIOV and DPDK, IPV4 and IPV6 support, Multus to allow multiple logical connections for fronthaul and backhaul, and multiple network protocol support including OVS, Calico and overlay networking support. This allows network functions, both VNFs and CNFs, to run on standard X86 platforms.

SymworldTM Cloud consists of three key products:

  • Symworld Orchestrator – an award-winning, bare-metal to services lifecycle manager. Know more.
  • Symworld Cloud Native Platform (CNP) – a best-of-breed Cloud Native Platform (CNP), with unprecedented performance and ease of use. Know more.
  • Symworld Cloud Native Storage (CNS) – offering industry-leading performance and application-topology awareness (included as part of CNP). Know more.

How to effectively deploy edge computing

Three principles are critical to ensuring the success of edge cloud for demanding use cases:

  1. Zero-touch provisioning of edge services: Symworld Orchestrator can automate all aspects of infrastructure and application as-a-service delivery and management centrally. Everything is covered – right from the initial deployments of a bare-metal server to ongoing operations, observability and lifecycle management of deployed services – thereby reducing the cost of operations and accelerating the time to deliver services at the edge by 80%.
  2. Edge applications on demand: SymworldTM Cloud offers on-demand delivery of edge applications using an App-Store-like experience in a consistent manner across all edge sites while automating most of day two operations tasks, without the need for skilled resources onsite.
  3. Managing data at the edge: Data that is generated at the edge needs to be managed and protected. Symworld Cloud Native Storage offers application-aware thin provisioned, data services, including native replication, snapshots, clones and encryption and backup, that are simple to configure and automated – thus protecting valuable data with minimum overhead.

Know more

Edge service delivery presents new challenges to operators and enterprises. SymworldTM Cloud can solve such complexities – from time to market to design and delivery – of Stateful Edge applications at a reasonable cost.

Edge Cloud Platform Edge To Cloud Platform As A Service

What are the benefits of the edge cloud platform?

Edge cloud platforms, like SymworldTM Cloud, enable data collection and processing closer to the end-user. They use analytics to deliver real-time insights that are actionable, besides contributing to an exceptional user experience. Automation and orchestration are critical components of the offering, using which operators can:

  • Instantly roll out changes to 100,000s of nodes
  • Eliminate operations silos with container-VM harmonization, multi-domain workflows and CI/CD integration
  • Secure user boundaries, provide chargeback and enable easy-to-use multi-tenant observability
  • Deploy multi-level automation and redundancy
  • React quickly to any failure with easy-to-use, policy-driven automation
  • Protect applications and data with application-aware business continuity, disaster recovery and more
  • Deliver automation and orchestration, metal-to-service, at scale
  • Edge-enabled Kubernetes platform for containerized and non-containerized applications
  • Single pane of glass for management of edge applications and infrastructure
  • App portal for application delivery automation
  • Low footprint with the lowest TCO and operations cost
  • Service delivery lifecycle management automation
  • Telco and edge expertise

Key features of edge cloud platforms

  • Full stack integration and automation:
    There is a need to integrate and automate across bare-metal servers, switches/routers/appliances, cloud platforms, service orchestration, administrative/OSS/BSS northbound communication, NFs, apps and services. The ability to orchestrate multiple domains as one to create and deploy a service is a must.
  • High-end automation at scale:
    This includes the need to automatically deploy, heal and resize on demand, as well as control hundreds of thousands of nodes for both telcos and large enterprises.
  • Low-footprint edge scale-down:
    This caters to enterprise customers’ edge requirements, to reduce costs (for example in a small branch), or support edge analytics use cases.
  • Fault, configuration, accounting, performance, security and observability (FCAPS).
  • Support for both greenfield container-based solutions as well as legacy VM brownfield applications.
  • High availability (HA) and reliability.
  • Extensive service/edge application catalogue:
    This drives the need for added security and multi-tenant, role-based access and chargeback. In many cases, this dictates physically separate infrastructure per customer.
    More applications call for complex integration and support, because there is a greater diversity of services and deployment models.
    There is an increasing number of physical locations to support, many of which are remote or at the edge.
  • Intelligent synergy with headend and cloud data centers.
  • Strict Service Level Agreement (SLA).
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Edge Cloud

Interested to know more? Learn more about the challenges of the telco edge cloud and the approach telcos must take to become fully cloud-native. Click here.

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