Your submission was sent successfully! Close

Thank you for signing up for our newsletter!
In these regular emails you will find the latest updates from Canonical and upcoming events where you can meet our team.Close

Thank you for contacting our team. We will be in touch shortly.Close

  1. Blog
  2. Article

Benjamin Ryzman
on 27 March 2024

Telecommunications companies (telcos) are well on their way to transforming their infrastructure from the legacy, unadaptable, complex network of dedicated hardware from yesteryears to agile, modular and scalable software-defined systems running on common off-the-shelf (COTS) servers.

Within this space, the current trend, driven by 5G deployments, is to complement tried and tested network function virtualisation (NFV) infrastructure with cloud-native network functions (CNFs). This refers to the cloud-native approach of building, deploying and managing telco functions and applications as a mesh of micro services packaged as containers.

A telco cloud is a highly robust and dynamic infrastructure built using cloud-native technologies designed specifically for communication services providers (CSPs) to deliver agile, flexible and efficient telecom services. It combines various components like software-defined networking (SDN), orchestration tools and other cloud computing technologies to enable the creation, customisation, and management of network services in a more cost-effective, scalable, and automated manner compared to traditional telecom architectures. It empowers telcos to reduce their innovations’ time to market, to react more quickly to shifts in network requirements and to improve their operational efficiency. A telco cloud provides the foundation for next-generation communication services, including 5G stand-alone (5G SA) networks and various Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

How does a telco cloud address telco challenges?

In order to stay innovative and competitive, telcos need ever more agility. They need to respond quickly to shifting market dynamics, evolving customer demands and emerging technologies. They require flexibility, modularity and freedom to customise solutions to keep up with the evolution of the industry. These are all areas in which a telco cloud can help.

Innovate and customise

With cloud-native application development techniques, telcos can leverage a telco cloud to bring new 5G revenue streams, internally developed or externally acquired from new tech and start-ups with a higher risk appetite than service providers.

They can reduce the time to develop, build and deploy new services and features to specific customer segments. This enables bringing solutions targeting new markets, such as industry monitoring, smart cities, smart homes, connected cars and fleet management.

These solutions can be tailored to specific customers quickly and economically thanks to the agility, modularity and flexibility of cloud-native software development.

Similarly, these technologies allow telcos to build platforms which can ignite collaboration and provide support to innovative third party developers. This can enable the creation of value in the telco’s core competencies, including connectivity and operational excellence, while reducing risks associated with the process of experimentation.

Increase power efficiency

Energy expenses currently comprise between 15% and 40% of telcos’ operating costs. They are all actively looking for ways to reduce their energy consumption through energy-efficient technology, renewable energy sources, and improved operational efficiency.

By virtualizing network functions and consolidating multiple workloads on a shared infrastructure, a telco cloud reduces the overall number of physical servers and corresponding power requirements. With intelligent load-balancing techniques, a telco cloud ensures optimal resource utilisation across the network, minimising idle resources and reducing the need for excess capacity, which in turn decreases power consumption. 

The use of specific analytics coupled with automation can be beneficial to optimise the power consumption of telco workloads. Underutilised wasteful infrastructure can be identified and massive power savings can be achieved with the right optimisation approach while maintaining network performance and service levels. A telco cloud offers the flexibility to scale resources up or down according to demand, ensuring that only the necessary compute, storage and network capacity is being used. The high availability and fault tolerance features of a telco cloud ensure minimal downtime and prevent overloading of resources, thereby optimising energy consumption by reducing the need for redundant equipment or backup systems.

Improve customer loyalty

Telcos are facing heightened competition and shifting consumer behaviours, necessitating creative approaches to increase revenue and maintain customer expansion. One way is to bundle and aggregate popular streaming services by partnering with content platforms.

A telco cloud enables the integration – from delivery to billing – of various digital services, such as over-the-top (OTT) media content distribution, to significantly enhance the telco customer experience. 

Using AI-powered tools, telcos are also able to grow their revenues by predicting and preventing subscriber churn. A telco cloud delivers more agile cloud-centric monetisation platforms providing more insights to power the new generation of services.

Reduce costs

A telco cloud, when run at scale, reduces the capital expenditure required to support network infrastructure by enabling companies to utilise COTS hardware and pay only for the capacity they need, adjusting with usage changes, while leveraging the hybrid cloud.

This shift to operational expenditure is covered by the accompanying process automation enabled by Telco Cloud best practices and cloud-native application development methodologies, such as DevSecOps and CI/CD.

The highly resilient and automated architecture of the Telco Cloud also improves service availability and reduces the time to respond to faults and demand fluctuations.

Read more about reducing 5G infrastructure costs with open source

What are the technical requirements for a telco cloud?

There are significant differences between your general purpose cloud environment and that of a telco cloud. With the exception of mission-critical applications, enterprise cloud deployments can tolerate less tight availability and performance requirements than those of telco network functions.

Some functions, such as the 5G Radio Access Network (RAN), need to perform in real-time at the edge of the network, as close to the user equipment as possible, with the best throughput and latency. The five nines availability goal, a downtime of no more than 5.26 minutes per year, is also a given.

A telco cloud encompasses not only the telco central offices and edge locations, but also data centres spread across the network reach. It delivers its network functions and other workloads wherever they can be run in order to optimise efficiency and quality of experience.

Carrier-grade network requirements initially prevented moving network functions to the public cloud. With the improvement of multi cloud and hybrid cloud connectivity, more and more telcos are leveraging public cloud infrastructure for some of their telco cloud network functions. One significant advantage of the container technology used in cloud-native architecture is its portability. The microservices realising a network function and its dependencies are encapsulated in a single, self-contained unit that can run on any system that supports the container format.

One of the key conditions in achieving a successful implementation of a telco cloud is the need for business continuity and coexistence of cloud-native with existing legacy infrastructure. During a telco cloud deployment, companies need to be able to seamlessly migrate existing network services and applications in a coordinated manner. A good way to approach this challenge is to consider not only the infrastructure and product portfolio but also the organisation and its processes.

As with any project, there are several factors to evaluate when deploying a telco cloud:

  • Whether to buy a complete solution or to do everything or part of it internally, with or without external support from a systems integrator.
  • What amount should be invested upfront?
  • How much risk is acceptable?
  • What is the target time-to-market?
  • How will success be defined and measured?

Some of the key decisions that telcos need to make include:

  • Identifying the telco cloud services that need to redeveloped as microservices instead of migrated virtual machines (VMs).
  • Selecting the right management and orchestration tools to support the efficient and effective automation of a telco cloud.
  • Defining the rules that drive the hybrid cloud approach, depending on the economics, operational expertise and time-to-market requirements.
  • Partnering and collaborating with technology companies, startups, and other organisations. This can help to access new technologies, markets, and expertise, and accelerate time-to-market

The path to a successful telco cloud deployment can be long and difficult but it is one of the key milestones for a telco to achieve its transition into a “techco” (technology-driven company) equipped to face competition from tech giants, media conglomerates and startups.

How can Canonical help you deploy a telco cloud?

In order to deploy a telco cloud effectively, companies need the tools that can support all their critical workloads wherever they run them, and enable them to incorporate innovators into the CSP network.

Canonical brings the power of open source cloud-native technologies to  the telco industry. A member of key telecommunications initiatives (such as the Open Networking Foundation, where we contribute to the Aether project, the OpenAirInterface Software Alliance, the Sylva project, and ETSI), Canonical provides cloud platforms that support the deployment and operation of certified virtual and container network functions both for the 5G Core and RAN. We are a proven, trusted technology partner in the ecosystem, with years of experience in telco operations across the globe.

Canonical maintains a strong security posture by ensuring all published open source software is hardened, audited and certified to adhere to industry standards. This commitment extends to reducing the footprint of the OS and containers to minimise the attack surface.

This specific innovation also translates into efficiency gains that are significant in large-scale RAN deployments involving tens or even hundreds of thousands of nodes.

Furthermore, Canonical’s robust automation tooling and 12 years long term support (LTS) not only streamline day 2 operations but also contribute to a competitive TCO making canonical the most economical vendor in the market.

Global top-tier operators endorse Canonical solutions for telcos. Our solutions encompass core, RAN and edge use cases and provide essential Enhanced Platform Awareness capabilities such as affinity and anti-affinity rules, CPU pinning, DPDK, Huge Pages, SR-IOV and secondary vNIC access, among others.

Groundwork starts with our tight partnerships with silicon vendors and independent hardware vendors that ensure Canonical provides the best silicon enablement and support for innovative technologies and acceleration capabilities.

Lastly, Canonical’s simple and unique Ubuntu Pro subscription offers the most comprehensive long term support, security and compliance for all your open source software. Using Canonical solutions, companies can operate carrier-grade cloud-native Telco Clouds at scale.

Learn more about Canonical solutions for telcos

Carrier-grade open source for telecommunications

Transform your infrastructure with secure and cloud-native telecom solutions

Further reading

Reduce 5G infrastructure costs with open source

How telcos are building carrier-grade infrastructure using open source

How a real-time kernel reduces latency in telco edge clouds

Related posts

Serdar Vural
19 July 2024

What is Open RAN?

5G Article

You may have heard of the term Open Radio Access Networks (RAN) widely used in the telecom industry in recent years. In this blog, we are going to explain what Open RAN is, why it represents an important technology transformation, and how it will impact the telecom ecosystem. It is the first part of a ...

Serdar Vural
5 December 2023

Canonical joins the Sylva project

Canonical announcements Telecommunications

Canonical is proud to announce that we have joined the Sylva project of Linux Foundation Europe as a General Member. We aim to bring our open source infrastructure solutions to Sylva and contribute to the project’s goal of providing a platform to validate cloud-native telco functions. Sylva was created to accelerate the cloudification of ...

Serdar Vural
11 October 2023

SmartNICs in telco: benefits and use cases

Cloud and server Article

In our previous blog, we introduced smartNICs as technology enablers for next-generation converged data centres. We covered how smartNICs can increase efficiency and drive return on investment. In this blog post, we explain how this innovative technology can help the telecom industry. SmartNICs use cases for the telecom sector are still e ...