CNFs Lay the Foundation for Cloud-Native Networking
Cloud-native technology is helping to transform networks and the way CSPs approach BSS/OSS.
The telecom industry has only just come to grips with virtualized network functions (VNFs), but the wheel of innovation is already turning to cloud-native network functions (CNFs). The two are different and likely to coexist for some time as CSPs continue to transform toward virtualized operations. However, CNFs will become increasingly essential because only they can maximize the real benefits of cloud-based networking.
A parallel evolution is also underway at a faster pace in the IT environments of CSPs. As CSPs embark on their IT transformation programs, they are insisting on cloud-native BSS/OSS applications that can run on their own cloud platforms or hyperscaler platforms. Some CSPs started their IT transition to the cloud by taking their legacy BSS/OSS applications and running them as is on virtual machines, so they could get to cloud faster. This lift-and-shift approach proved to be counter-productive as the real benefits of the cloud can only be achieved with fully cloud-native BSS/OSS applications that have been modernized and redesigned for the cloud.
The reason for the emergence of CNFs and cloud-native BSS/OSS is primarily agility. Breaking a software function into microservices and running them in containers provides significant benefits, including:
- Independent deployment, scaling and upgrading of microservices.
- Faster release of services and upgrades.
- Failure isolation without impacting the rest of the software app.
- DevOps processes with continuous integration, testing and deployment.
- New SaaS commercial models with evergreen upgrades.
Containers allow software to be packaged to encompass apps, functions and microservices with all of the necessary files for running it while sharing operating system and server resources. Cloud-native technology offers the much-needed agility to create efficient and on-demand networks.
Cloud-native BSS/OSS raises the questions of how CSPs will orchestrate, automate and monetize CNFs as they operate and manage agile cloud networks. Faced with a blend of software on virtual machines and cloud-native software, CSPs will need orchestration systems to intelligently place the right resources in the optimal cloud platform based on different attributes. These attributes will vary and include the QoS, bandwidth and latency requirements of the service being provided to the end customer. This must all be done on an E2E basis and within each network domain (RAN/edge, transport and core).
Far from simplifying how CSPs operate and manage network functions, CNFs add a further layer of complexity, and it’s the job of modernized BSS/OSS to simplify the transition to becoming truly cloud-native in a hybrid world. Ultimately, a true cloud-native environment will be achieved, but the transformation will be complicated, resource-intensive and time-consuming.
Click here to learn more about cloud-native BSS/OSS.