Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and telecommunications providers (telcos) are seeing a massive shift in technology from legacy backend systems, to modern cloud-native systems that are flexible, and powerful. Here is a summary of our latest white paper covering modern operations for Telcos.
The mobile network operator challenge
Operational and Business Support Systems (OSS and BSS) can be some of the biggest costs for a Mobile Network Operator (MNO), and some of the biggest sources of operational complexity. Let’s break that down a bit further.
Telcos typically handle operations at a massive scale of millions of events per day in near real-time; e.g. large number of customers, numerous product offerings, and geographic variations. They deal with large quantities of data, and need to adapt their backend systems to cope with these volumes of data. Data aggregation and data analysis is key for telcos to succeed in today's competitive mobile ecosystem.
These systems are not only subject to constant change but also present the biggest competitive advantage and valuable customer and network data.
Telcos moving to cloud-native operations at scale
There is a shift underway from these legacy systems to modern cloud-native systems. Telcos are gravitating towards modern cloud-native tooling that is powered by Kubernetes, and supported by its ecosystem of open source tools.
Here are some of the standout characteristics of this transition:
- From proprietary to commodity hardware infrastructure
- From proprietary licenses to open source software with strong developer communities and vendor-neutral foundations
- From management-heavy on-premise systems to flexible hybrid cloud systems that have the flexibility to keep some data and apps on-premise, and scale others in the cloud
- From expensive, and restrictive security protocols to zero-trust security policies and an undefined perimeter
- From RAID bases storage to distributed cloud storage like Ceph
- Being able to act on large scale data and enable advanced data analysis
What the modern cloud-native stack looks like:
The modern toolchain to support telco-scale operations is powered by Kubernetes that can provide the operational agility for a next generation 5G MNO. Telcos need the flexibility to run and manage Kubernetes on-premises, on any cloud, and at the edge. Further, the toolchain is made up of a wide range of open source and best-of-breed SaaS tooling. The list includes tools such as Jenkins, GitHub, GitLab, Helm, Nagios and Zabbix. These are varied tools that each play a very specific role across the entire chain of telco operations.
Observability is essential for cloud-native to be successful. Applications deployed in Kubernetes are expected to monitor and report on their availability and health. This data is transmitted in the form of event streams and metrics information. This observability data can be captured and analyzed using tools such as Apache Kafka, the Elastic Stack, Grafana, and Prometheus. OpenRAN and 5G are evolving to use these toolsets as standard
To manage these diverse tools, it takes a solution to unify and integrate them seamlessly. As telcos push to adopt these new toolsets, there is a gap of people, processes and tools available to make the most of this tooling. This is where a solution like Weave GitOps can fill the gap and integrate the tooling with the people, and processes to drive modern cloud-native operations.
Weave GitOps brings it all together
Weave GitOps is a continuous delivery and operations product based on the core principles of GitOps. According to GitOps, every part of the system is defined and declared in Git. Git is the source of truth. Weave GitOps watches Git repositories for any change and automatically applies those changes to production. Further, Weave GitOps enables organizations to implement and manage Kubernetes and its ecosystem of tools.
Five focus areas to move to cloud-native
As you consider where to start with this transition from legacy systems to modern cloud-native systems, here are five areas to focus on:
1. Data aggregation and analytics
2. Rapid testing and automated deployment
3. Kubernetes capabilities & its tooling ecosystem
4. Sovereignty of regulated data, and elastic compute with cloud
5. Weave GitOps Enterprise to accelerate adoption of all these approaches
This blog post is a concise summary of the key points covered in our newest white paper titled 'Cloud native operations at scale in next generation mobile networks.' The white paper goes into detail on the challenges faced by telcos, the kind of technology solutions that can meet these challenges, and the vital role that Weave GitOps plays in enabling this transition.