Platform9 and Mavenir revealed today that Platform9’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for managing Kubernetes environments is being extended to manage container network functions (CNFs) deployed on Mavenir’s network infrastructure.
The goal is to make it simpler for telecommunications carriers to replace virtual network functions (VNFs) with lighter-weight CNFs that are easier to deploy and manage on an open radio access network (RAN).
Platform9’s CEO Sirish Raghuram says rather than requiring carriers to set up their own management frameworks, it will be easier to manage and orchestrate CNFs deployed on Kubernetes using an existing SaaS platform provided by Platform9.
In general, carriers are rushing to deploy CNFs to replace existing virtual and physical network and security appliances with container software that is easier to deploy and manage. The need to deliver wireless 5G networking services has served to accelerate the need to make this transition.
Mavenir, and other 5G platforms and services providers, have partnered with Red Hat and others to build and deploy CNFs. Platform9, however, is making the case for a more turnkey approach, using a SaaS-based platform that doesn’t require a small army of consultants to implement, says Raghuram.
The rate at which applications will be deployed on edge computing platforms is expected to increase as 5G services become more available. Use cases that involve everything from augmented reality to the internet of things (IoT) are all dependent on container applications’ ability to access low-latency wireless networks. Kubernetes provides the mechanism to schedule, manage and dynamically orchestrate containers.
Most carriers, along with some enterprise IT organizations that are building private networks, will, for the foreseeable future, be using a mix of CNFs and VNFs. However, over time, it’s likely most VNFs will be supplanted by CNFs. Regardless of an organizations’ chosen path to 5G, there will soon be a massive number of microservices-based container applications running on various classes of edge computing platforms – assuming the network services they require can dynamically scale up and down as required. The challenge carriers now face is making sure the network services they provide can scale up and down to meet the requirements of those applications on demand. Today, it can often take weeks for a carrier to provision additional network services.
It’s not clear to what degree carriers will prefer to build their own management platform for CNFs versus relying on an existing platform. However, the smaller the carrier, the less likely they will want to devote resources to reinventing the proverbial wheel.
In the meantime, IT organizations should start building edge computing applications today, in anticipation of more pervasive 5G bandwidth availability later this year. Of course, 5G bandwidth is not infinite, so some care must still be taken when factoring in application latency. However, a wide range of applications that would have once been considered nearly impossible to deploy are now imminently more feasible.