How ORAN is moving the industry to a cloud-native model
Open RAN or ORAN is a game-changing Radio Access Network (RAN) evolution combining RAN functionality with cloud-native design, scale and automation.
Legacy RAN was and is still intentionally designed using closed and proprietary architectures that locked operators to a particular vendor, for both radio and supporting hardware (baseband units).
Now with ORAN, operators can not only decouple vendors, but also software from hardware, facilitating the migration to a cloud-native model. The key functionality is provided by containerized Network Functions (NFs) – software that runs on virtually any Consumer Off The Shelf (COTS) server.
Why is this important? Because the resulting cloud-native model enables workflow orchestration and network automation that can deploy, scale and heal without intervention. This is extremely beneficial for remote locations that have historically required expensive truck rolls.
O-RAN & challenges
The Open RAN Alliance’s specification known as O-RAN describes an NF-focused model that drives open standards and interoperability. This eliminates vendor lock-ins while increasing competitive innovation. Long story short, this provides operators business agility that helps them generate revenue faster than ever before.
Tremendous benefits aside, operators have concerns related to ORAN deployments.
For example, interoperability is one perceivable challenge. When one thinks of open networks the first thing that comes to mind is “How will I make all of these vendors work together?”
While that is an essential consideration, generally, it is not a stumbling block. Vendors who work in an open environment centered around disaggregation generally adhere to standards. They realize that their ability to quickly demonstrate interoperability is key to their success. Additionally, in today’s world of containerized software, vendors can quickly change, test and deploy new code.
But interoperability is so much more than getting your RAN vendors to properly connect. One must also solve for end-to-end solution interoperability and efficiency up and down the operations stack, and be mindful of a few aspects:
- First things first, there is no one-size-fits-all RAN solution or deployment model and advanced routing capabilities, such as source-based routes.
- Resources, NFs, NF vendors and applications will be deployed and migrated all over the network, far edge, edge, regional and core. Each environment has different restrictions and configurations.
- RAN and edge NFs will come with specifically tuned configuration requirements that must be deployed at scale from remote locations.
- RAN NFs are very network-heavy where cloud platforms require multiple IP addresses and advanced routing capabilities, such as source-based routes.
- Not all vendors are on the same containerization roadmap. Harmonizing, sharing resources and operations between containers and Virtual Machines (VMs) is critical. Having one platform for CNFs and another for VNFs is not a migration strategy, it’s a technology anchor created from poor decisions. Unaccommodating legacy platforms have dire consequences.
- Operations stacks and end-to-end services and protocol interoperability are all critical aspects to consider.
- Multitenant considerations such as Roles Based Access (RBAC), chargeback and per tenant observability are needed.
Most importantly, as you tackle the problems above, don’t simply use them as a series of checkboxes.
Ask your vendor how, not just what, but HOW:
- How does this promote efficient use of resources?
- How does this reduce the number of workflows and operations silos?
- How does this reduce my time to outcome for, integration, deployment and lifecycle management?
- How does it use my existing tools, scripts and executors to onboard legacy solutions and workflows?
- How easy will it be to modify and change solutions that have already been deployed?
Delivering on the 5G promise
While such challenges exist, they can be resolved using an innovative approach in managing software applications, services, and physical resources, for providers and enterprises. Today, 5G operators, cloud platform providers and over-the-top service providers require new solutions that provision capacity and automate multiple levels of infrastructure, hardware, software, cloud platforms and appliances, while simultaneously consolidating VM and container-based services, reducing operations silos and costs.
Robin enables this vision with three revolutionary products through which we demonstrate unprecedented flexibility, ease of use, and real-time scale. Our products have been enabling operators to deliver on the 5G promise with unmatched lifecycle simplicity, performance, scale, and advanced workload placement.
Current implementation of Robin solutions has demonstrated the potential for a 40% reduction in OpEx, scalable orchestration & automation for RAN and Core, and a 50% reduction in CapEx by enabling Open RAN and Core on commercial hardware. It does so while reducing deployment timelines by 80% and in many cases from days to minutes for complex multi-domain automation.
These are not our own numbers but those calculated by our customers.
As we continue to innovate our services, Robin.io is working actively to further decrease costs for operators, as well as develop our work in areas like network slicing and AI-driven automation. Invest a few minutes of your time and unlock a wide range of performance benefits. Connect with our experts and explore how our products can help bring interoperability into your architecture.
Interested to know more? Read Robin’s latest white paper for in-depth insights on Designing O-RAN Platforms that help operators boost performance.