Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Saturday, February 24, 2024

5G is Going Cloud Native 

Cloud infrastructure vendors are lining to collaborate with telecommunications and network equipment partners to help roll out 5G services, aiming for what one public cloud vendor dubs “carrier-grade cloud.”

For instance, a 5G network collaboration between IBM’s (NYSE: IBM)

Red Hat unit and key next-generation wireless player Samsung Electronics will deploy 5G applications ranging from core network to machine learning via Red Hat’s enterprise Kubernetes distribution running on its OpenShift platform.

Elsewhere, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is working with telecommunications partners to help scale 5G deployments via cloud-native frameworks.

The partnerships highlight how infrastructure vendors are gearing up to deliver mega-broadband, low latency edge applications such as the Internet of Things via the next generation wireless technology.

Samsung (KRX: 005930) won a $6.6 billion contact earlier this month to provide 5G networking equipment to Verizon, establishing the Korean electronics giant in the telecommunications gear market dominated by China’s Huawei Technologies, Ericsson and Nokia.

Red Hat and Samsung said Monday (Sept. 28) they will collaborate to use OpenShift and its container storage service along with the IBM unit’s flagship enterprise Linux distribution and its Ansible automation platform. The elements will be combined with Samsung’s 5G virtual radio access network (vRAN) along with analytics and other managed services. The partners said they will initially target edge computing use cases.

Red Hat asserts it “horizontal” platform approach reduces operations costs when compared to vertically integrated vRANs. The advantages include improved performance and more service offering, the infrastructure vendor added.

The collaboration also combines container infrastructure with virtual network functions that would allow wireless network carriers to offer edge computing and other emerging networking services.

Earlier this year, Red Hat and Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) unveiled a certification process for virtual network functions (VNF) and cloud-native network functions (CNF). The testbed service provides network scenarios based on server hardware and widely used open source software.

Red Hat said Samsung has received its VNF certification and expects full CNF certification, the highest industry standard for mission-critical network functions running on Red Hat OpenShift. The certification verifies that CNF vendors can run application workloads in production on OpenShift, including edge computing and other 5G deployments.

The partnership with Red Hat allows Samsung to extend its 5G networking portfolio to emerging cloud-native applications, said Wonil Roh, head of Samsung Electronics’ Product Strategy and Networks Business unit.

It also would allow 5G carriers to deliver AI and machine learning applications for edge computing via cloud-native infrastructure, added Red Hat CTO Chris Wright.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is seeking to leverage a string of networking acquisitions to develop 5G-based “edge zones” on its Azure cloud.

“We're building a carrier-grade cloud and bringing more Microsoft technology to the operator’s edge,” Jason Zander, executive vice president of Microsoft Azure, noted in a blog post.

The 5G initiative follows Microsoft’s acquisition of Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch, the former giving it 5G core architecture capabilities while the latter added to Microsoft’s portfolio of virtualized network software.

“It is clear to us that there will be different approaches to technology adoption based on business needs,” Zander said. “Some operators may choose to adopt the Azure platform and select a varied mix of virtualized or containerized network function providers.”

That list of providers is growing as key 5G players like Samsung forge partnerships with cloud vendors pushing the next-generation wireless technology to the network edge.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).