DevOps made the revolution in the IT industry 10 years ago and is a demanded methodology in different domains around the world. Today we’ll talk about implementing DevOps services in the telecom industry and building 5G networks.
To build the telecom network you need special hardware and defined specifications. When technology improves, this hardware becomes legacy and needs updates. We know four such cases already and now there is a new generation of equipment in telecom, that’s why it’s called 5G.
5G networks are designed not only with rigid specifications but also with modern software for bandwidth increasing and lowering latency. Also, 5G is a long-expected step of mobile network development. The infrastructure of 5G networks should be variable, reliable and easily configurable. It is impossible to implement 5G only with hardware.
This network generation uses three basic principles:
- Software-Defined Networking (SDN) – configuration is easy to customize and control because it is delivered via virtualized software;
- Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) – functions are effectuated by containerization in Docker without specialized hardware;
- Virtual Network Functions (VNF) – needed NFV can be launched very quickly because it is simple software deployment.
Thus, we can say goodbye to the era of huge hardware and investments in it. Nowadays telecom operators rent cloud computing resources and install edge computing nodes where they need. This makes it possible to connect with the main servers in the cloud. As a result, you have significant capabilities to make quick deployments and configurations.
How to applicate DevOps in the telecom sector?
Containerization is a great solution for the application of the Content Delivery Network (CDN), Network Address Translation mechanism (NAT) and traffic routine. You can codify these processes and put them in containers. After that, this is simply managed by main DevOps principles – CI/CD and IaC:
- CI/CD means Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery. CI is provided by tools like Jenkins, Circle CI, Gitlab CI and others. CI allows to make updates very fast, so time-to-market becomes shorter. CD is used for automation of routine and repetitive operations. Accurate CD pipeline ensures increasing business efficiently because you don’t need to make the same laborious tasks infinitely.
- IaC means Infrastructure as Code. This is an approach where software development and infrastructure is presented as a set of manifests with necessary configurations. Manifests are processed by tools like Kubernetes and Terraform. These tools allow to design, implement and run the infrastructure easily.
Benefits of DevOps for 5G networks
As we said above, using the virtualization tools like VNF allows composing multifacet infrastructure with modules from different cloud providers. Also, the more VNFs you use, the more complex the system can be. DevOps methodology can solve issues with complexity, and that’s how it can be done:
- VNF can be placed into a Docker container, that will be placed in the Kubernetes cluster. As a result, you’ll lower hardware resource consumption compared with standard networks. Thus said, any system function can be split into microservices for simplifying the workflow.
- Kubernetes and Terraform clusters have inbuilt options for simple monitoring and management of VNFs in Docker containers.
- Modules are portable and compatible with the different NFV environments. Thus said, you can build any telecom network you need from existing blocks.
- There is a service mesh. It’s the Kubernetes layer that can manage the whole system at once with Helm charts and other instruments.
- DevOps allows integrating Big Data analytics into the system. Big Data analytics provides the implementation of Artificial Intelligence for the faster and simpler management of the system. Also, Big Data allows making in-depth workflow analysis and machine-generated logs by tools like Sumo Logic, Grafana, Prometheus and others.
DevOps methodology in the telecom industry becomes also highly popular because of the popularity of the web and mobile interfaces for managing telecom workloads and hardware.
What perspectives are waiting for DevOps in telecom?
Telecom companies always compete with each other and DevOps methodology can be the right instrument in this situation. Current hardware of 4G networks don’t need a lot of changes for using 5G, thus, you just need to restructure and update software. There is a question, how to do it? Well, the telecom operator doesn’t have all the IT specialists in-house. Thus, the best way is to outsource this process and hire a Managed Service Provider with wide expertise and turnkey solutions. Such an approach allows you to combine your unique experience in managing telecom infrastructure and the best practices of DevOps management.