In a proof-of-concept trial in a live network environment, Verizon and Ericsson have introduced cloud native, container based technology on the core of Verizon’s active network. According to Verizon and Ericsson, this is the first container-based wireless EPC (Evolved Packet Core) technology deployment in a live network in the world. It would introduce a more efficient way to deliver operational applications that run the network.
It is a solution that would increase agility and enable deployment at scale for new services in 4G and 5G. “The pace of technological advancement is rapid and is exponentially increasing,” said Bill Stone, Vice President of Technology Development and Planning for Verizon. “By evolving our core network past simply using virtualized machines and instead changing our underlying software architecture to run on cloud-native technology, we are able to achieve new levels of operational automation, flexibility and adaptability.”
That operational autonomy would be critical for the next generation of services being enabled by new network technologies. The advanced capabilities of 4G LTE and the high speed, increased bandwidth and low latency of 5G would help inspire development of a wide variety of new use cases that include everything from massive numbers of IoT devices that do very little networking, to smartphones with nearly infinite opportunities to use data, to more complex solutions such as AR/VR that will require massive computing capabilities on the edge of the network.
Those solutions would each require different combinations of network capabilities. Cloud-native virtualization, in combination with built-in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI-ML), will enable dynamic allocation of the appropriate resources and automated network configuration changes – including the ability to scale up or scale down network function capacity – to provide the right service levels and network resources needed for each use case.
The proof-of-concept trial took place in Hillsboro, Oregon and the deployment was conducted on Verizon’s commercial network, using Ericsson Packet Core Controller deployed as a cloud-native and microservice-based Mobility Management Entity (MME) in an existing pool. The software being used leverages Docker images and helm charts, with expected updates on the software from Ericsson every two weeks.
“The industry’s evolution to cloud native means big changes ahead,” said Nils Viklund, Head of Solution Area Packet Core at Ericsson. “Ericsson is leading the industry when it comes to driving cloud-native design in order to bring the agility needed to manage workloads dynamically at the edge required for many new 5G use cases. Now together with Verizon, we are demonstrating how cloud native EPC can be an important step in increasing efficiency and utilization of the cloud infrastructure.”