Major players get behind developing the telco edge
The evolving telco edge needs open standards and industry agreement to make sure communications service providers (CSPs) can take full advantage of the commercial opportunities. Business technology journalist Antony Savvas looks at a major development that will help drive things forward.
Linux Foundation Europe, newly-formed this September, and part of the global open-source Linux Foundation, has launched its first project, and it is aimed squarely at the emerging telco edge space.
Project Sylva is designed to create a new open source “production-grade” Telco Cloud Stack. Its common cloud software framework and Reference Implementation aims to “reduce fragmentation” of the cloud infrastructure layer for telecoms and edge services.
Born out of a desire to reduce complexity and “accelerate cloudification” of networks, and to address the European region’s privacy, security and energy efficiency requirements, five European-headquartered telcos have signed up to the project. Telefonica, Telecom Italia, Orange, Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom have also been joined by telco infrastructure providers Ericsson and Nokia, signing up to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) around the Sylva project.
They have all agreed to address the “challenges” associated with telco and edge use cases across Europe and other regions. “Despite specific European needs, the Sylva project has broader ambitions, and should be seen as a global player within the telco cloud ecosystem, as it’s open to collaborators outside the European Union as well,” says Linux Foundation Europe.
Specific goals of Sylva include releasing a cloud software framework to prioritise requirements, develop solutions to be integrated within existing open source components, and produce production-grade solutions to be leveraged within commercial products.
Sylva also aims to develop a reference implementation of this cloud software framework, and create an integration and validation programme to accelerate adoption of network functions within the cloud.
“We are collaborating closely with European telcos and vendors eager to more fully harness the power of open source to accelerate cloudification of the network within European privacy and security guidelines,” says Arpit Joshipura, general manager for networking, edge and IoT at the Linux Foundation.
“A unified approach to hosting 5G deployment applications from the core to the RAN (radio access network) is critical for fostering innovation for broad digital transformation, augmenting work in Linux Foundation networking and edge communities.”
“The telco cloud ecosystem today is fragmented and slowing down our operational model transformation. Despite a transition to cloud native technologies, real interoperability between workloads and platforms remains a challenge,” says Laurent Leboucher, group CTO and SVP for Orange innovation networks.
“Operators have to deal with a lot of vertical solutions that are different for each vendor, leading to operational complexity, lack of scalability and high costs,” he says. “By providing a homogenous and open telco cloud reference implementation for the entire industry, and supporting interoperability, flexibility and easier operations, Sylva should help the whole ecosystem, in Europe and beyond.”
Anders Vestergren, head of strategy, portfolio and technology at Ericsson, adds, “Sylva is an example of the telecom industry’s rapid transformation to cloud native technologies. It will improve efficiency, as well as accelerate the deployment and onboarding of 5G cloud native network functions.”
Other telcos that are part of the project say it will enable a new generation of digital services, thus creating new business opportunities for telcos, vendors and application developers. Sylva will boost security, reduce energy consumption and deliver cross-border applications, such as connected car safety systems, to more end users, they say.
The launch of Sylva came just after another initiative was launched to break down communications barriers in the US. General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) formed a coalition with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco, Dell Technologies, Splunk and T-Mobile to accelerate the adoption of 5G, advanced wireless and edge technologies across government agencies.
The GDIT 5G and Edge Accelerator Coalition is collaborating with government agencies by leveraging GDIT’s Advanced Wireless Emerge Lab, to identify use cases and develop prototypes and customisable solutions, that will make it “faster, easier and more cost effective” to deploy 5G and edge capabilities.
Such solutions will support federal, state and local agencies’ applications across the military, logistics and supply chain, healthcare, education and smart infrastructure.
“We share a common vision of how 5G, edge and advanced wireless technologies can transform government operations,” says Ben Gianni, GDIT’s senior vice president and chief technology officer. “Forming this coalition will help us bring our collective strengths together to provide technical differentiation and the most beneficial solutions for our government customers.”
The coalition will use AWS to provide cloud infrastructure to connect edge devices to cloud services; Cisco will provide 5G core and mobile edge computing capabilities that enable data processing; Dell Technologies will deliver open infrastructure and edge operations software, and artificial intelligence-enhanced edge devices and sensors; Splunk is responsible for cyber security automation and edge computing capability; and T-Mobile will provide network bandwidth, expertise and advanced solutions to support large use cases around smart infrastructure, for instance.
David Bezzant, T-Mobile vice president of sales for the public sector, says of this initiative: “Network technology and management is complex and 5G applications, like AI, add to the overall complexity. We have the 5G assets and expertise to take the heavy lift of network design, deployment and management off government agencies, so they can focus on how to use cutting-edge applications to benefit communities.”
It is fantastic to see telcos play centre stage in the rapidly growing business services edge across both Europe and North America, and I’m sure we’ll see similar new efforts in the rest of the Americas, Africa and Asia too. As they come to fruition let me know about them.
The author is Antony Savvas, a global freelance business technology journalist.