5G is the catalyst for how the communications industry and the cloud industry are coming together. VMware, the Palo Alto-based software company wants to be at the center of it all.
In August 2020, global chip giant Intel announced a collaboration with VMware on an integrated software platform for virtualized radio access networks (RAN). This collaboration benefits communications service providers, who with an integrated platform will be able to deploy new network functions across the same Telco Cloud architecture, from core to RAN, enabling the scale and agility needed to deliver services across a 5G network more efficiently.
A few months after this collaboration was revealed, VMware announced its new 5G Telco Cloud Platform. The new platform combined VMware Telco Cloud Infrastructure, which was an evolution of the vCloud NFV solution, and VMware Telco Cloud Automation. VMware's Telco Automation Cloud is a "cloud down" approach to model, on-board, orchestrate, and manage virtual network functions (VNFs), cloud-network functions (CNFs), and network services.
Then, DISH and VMware announced they had tested and onboarded dozens of cloud-native 5G network functions from multiple software vendors on top of the VMware Telco Cloud over six months. The deal was for a greenfield deployment, which means it was built from the ground-up using cloud-native architecture. This type of deployment should provide for a cleaner and more efficient network deployment and operation.
Now the company is discovering how to make its multi-cloud capability improve or support 5G RAN in cases where network operators begin using those assets for edge opportunities.
There are a number of service providers that have already deployed virtualized infrastructures, but now they want to move toward cloud-native. While cloud service providers are already using cloud-native capabilities, telcos would benefit by being in a hybrid mode of virtual network functions (VNFs) and cloud native functions (CNFs) for a while yet.
According to the company, more than 120 service providers already use VMware's Telco Cloud, which doesn’t include its 5G Telco Cloud Platform. Working with 35 partners, VMware has validated more than 180 network functions to date with most of them third-party VNFs along with VMware's SD-WAN and load balancing VNFs, among others.
“We see our role as enabling telcos to accelerate their journey,” said Lakshmi Mandyam, VMware’s VP of Telco and Edge Cloud Product Management.