The world’s largest telcos are now embracing GitOps. Deutsche Telekom explains why

March 01, 2022

An interview with Michal Sewera of Deutsche Telekom by William Felows of 451 research, about the role of GitOps in the implementation of 5G.

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GitOps and 5G - a deep dive into Deutsche Telekom’s experience

As telecom providers around the world get to grips with the rollout of 5G, the industry is facing a radical change in the way that it delivers software. With more and more network functions shifting from hardware to software, containers – and specifically containers managed by Kubernetes – are emerging as the most appropriate way of delivering software in this new super-complex, cloud native new world.

With all this complexity comes a requirement for greater automation, however. In a recent interview, William Fellows of 451 Research asked Michal Sewera, squad lead for the Deutsche Telekom (DT) cloud-native 5G core project, called 5G Standalone (SA), about the effects these changes have had on his work. Michal’s reply was twofold: “I think the main reason is that modern networking functions are becoming very much software-defined, so you should apply the rules of engagement that apply to regular software. Secondly, this software is becoming very much decomposed, using a lot of OS components, which means internal complexity of the software is increasing – so you need to apply measures to automate the process, in order to maintain quality.”

Automating continuous delivery with GitOps

That automation is increasingly coming via GitOps. Exploiting the declarative nature of Kubernetes, it enables organizations to store configuration information in Git, as well as code, thereby capturing a ‘single source of truth’ for an entire application in version control.

Michal continued as follows:

“5G…is one of the first applications that really relies on things like Kubernetes and REST interfaces. With this you have the perfect opportunity to try out a different production model – and this different production model means you can start to work a little bit more like hyperscalers, using also frameworks like Kubernetes and GitOps.”

Crucial to the ability of GitOps to automate operations is a software agent that can continuously monitor the production application and compare it to the version held in Git. For Deutsche Telekom, that agent is Flux, the reconciliation component that lies at the heart of Weave GitOps.

A partnership with the GitOps experts

Working alongside Weaveworks, Deutsche Telekom has rolled out a fully open, GitOps-enabled, distributed Kubernetes Cluster-as-a-Service (CaaS) platform at massive scale. And as a GitOps pioneer in the telco space, Deutsche Telekom found the partnership with Weaveworks invaluable. Michal put it this way:

“It was super-important in the context of our exercise to learn and to develop a way of implementing the GitOps framework. Because it is not just about putting your configuration in Git and doing reconciliation. Actually, it is about the entire design – how to separate your lab from production, how to structure your configuration in Git and finally how you manage quality in terms of frequent changes.”

Telcos interested in replicating Deutsche Telekom’s success therefore have a blueprint for approaching 5G. According to Alexis Richardson, Weaveworks CEO and co-founder:

“Kubernetes has become the rock-solid foundation of modern cloud infrastructures and the time is right for telcos to adopt cloud native. Cloud native Kubernetes can offer significant capital and operational cost reduction while speeding deployments to operators like Deutsche Telekom as they roll out 5G. By replacing legacy delivery tools that have long upgrade cycles with an open, layered software stack, Deutsche Telekom enjoys full control. They can pick and choose which vendors to work with for different use cases within the 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) and as the foundation for new IoT, cloud computing, AI and autonomous driving applications. The future is cloud native software and continuous delivery – enabled today by Weave GitOps and Deutsche Telekom.”

The perfect platform for 5G

For Deutsche Telekom and many other telcos, the rollout of 5G has presented significant technical challenges – which is why it has prompted so many to adopt Kubernetes. As the new platform shifts many network operations to the edge, Kubernetes, automated and managed via GitOps, becomes the most appropriate platform for delivery.


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