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Alcide 2021 Predictions: Kubernetes Takes Over as Telecom Services Backbone in 2021

 vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

Kubernetes Takes Over as Telecom Services Backbone in 2021

By Amir Ofek, CEO of Alcide

Telcos have been experimenting with Kubernetes for a couple years now, and have begun to make even larger commitments to cloud native for the coming years. Companies such as Nokia are finding that containerization helps them deploy their applications in a fashion that is agnostic to the infrastructure of network operators, freeing Nokia to focus on the core functionality of their applications.

Telco providers such as Nokia have faced a complicated challenge deploying telecom networks. Since operators are diverse and geographically spread out, telcos must prepare for many infrastructure environments from bare metal to VMware or OpenStack. By moving to containerization, telcos have separated their applications from the infrastructure, enabling consistent execution regardless of the target execution environment, saving them hundreds of hours in development and testing.

The separation of infrastructure from the application layer transforms the way telcos will interact with their network operators. When the two were tightly coupled, the business relationships were locked in and slow to evolve. As with other cloud native applications developers, when telcos shift to purer application development with containers orchestrated by Kubernetes, they'll decouple the relationships between telcos and network operators, unlocking more fluid network optimization and scaling, and enabling more customer-centric networks for 5G and other edge services provided by telcos.

Kubernetes adds a very specific benefit for telcos. As regulated utilities, telcos are required to provide significant uptime guarantees for their customers. Telco networks are obligated to provide 99.999% availability to ensure business and emergency services can be reached. Nobody wants a critical 911 call to fail during a time-sensitive emergency. In a calendar year, this means the network can only be down for approximately 10 minutes in total. When applications are tied to the physical hosts, failure of the physical hosts can have catastrophic effects on the network. Kubernetes enables telcos to divide calls across multiple physical hosts, ensuring the network will be able to send calls through even when hardware fails.

Kubernetes's label-based scheduling enables telcos to do this while enabling the networks to scale rapidly when needed. Since label-based scheduling enables pods to be assigned to run on only specific nodes, telcos will be able to assign pods to specific operator infrastructure, enabling Kubernetes to orchestrate applications across a wide number of network operators.

The implications for Kubernetes and cloud native are far reaching. Telcos do not make technology bets with horizons that are only a year or two out, so expect telcos to be using Kubernetes for many years to come. Not only will telcos be using Kubernetes, but they will be influencing its development as well, bringing the particular needs of telcos to K8s special interest groups, which will result in further commitment to Kubernetes by telcos, and further enrichment of Kubernetes.

Cloud native developers will see that acceptance from telcos means Kubernetes is transforming from a cutting edge and experimental technology to an established platform that millions of telco customers are using daily with the expectation of 99.999% reliability. When mobile phone users access 5G networks, it will be likely their calls and data will be handled by infrastructure-agnostic containers orchestrated by Kubernetes. For cloud native developers, this means ecosystem contributors for Kubernetes will be more likely to make deeper and longer term commitments to supporting K8s and cloud native.


About the Author

Amir Ofek 

Amir Ofek has over 20 years of experience in the hi-tech industry. Prior to Alcide, Amir was President and CEO at CyberInt, where he led the company's fast growth in the cybersecurity MDR space. Before, he worked at Amdocs, where he served as VP Client Business Executive for the SingTel Group, based in Singapore, and as the Chief of Staff of Amdocs CEO. He was also a board director at Gilat Satellite Networks. Amir is a Captain (res.) in the IDF 8200 unit, and holds BSc. in IT Engineering (Cum Laude) from the Technion and an MBA from INSEAD.

Published Monday, January 11, 2021 7:41 AM by David Marshall
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