Tune In: How to build an open-source cloud for telcos

ICT and telco companies are increasingly evaluating open source technology as they consider recasting their infrastructures to cloud, software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV). For some, the transformation has begun, but others are just getting started. We shared some of the basics of building a telco cloud using open source software in one of our Red Hat webinars. Want to know what they are? Read on.

ICT telco cloud

For a little perspective, telco service providers have traditionally used proprietary hardware and software to build their infrastructures. Trouble is, proprietary equipment can be costly to maintain and can lock customers into a single vendor. With open source, providers have the opportunity to build a scale-out cloud infrastructure using off-the-shelf hardware.

Speaking of hardware, a good start is any x86 server running a Linux operating system. Red Hat is one of the top contributors to the Linux kernel, and our Red Hat Enterprise Linux is a stable and long-standing option that has been around for 20 years. Of course, we recommend you choose from the Red Hat ecosystem of partners; certified hardware gives you the confidence of knowing that your solution is running on tested and supported hardware. As for virtualization, Kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) is a virtualization infrastructure for the Linux kernel that turns it into a hypervisor. Again, Red hat has been involved; since 2007 we’ve been contributing to this hypervisor.

Of course, telco companies require a high-level of performance in their virtualized infrastructures. To that end, the OPNFV collaborative project is focused on building a carrier-grade NFV platform by integrating and testing existing open source software components and contributing back into upstream communities based on NFV requirements. Red Hat is participating in this endeavor.

On top of this is OpenStack for storage, networking and compute. The applications run on top of OpenStack, and the applications can be managed using either a dashboard or command line interface. Again, Red Hat is actively involved in upstreaming to OpenStack, and there are already many OpenStack solutions being produced for telcos.

My colleague Neil Levine, Red Hat’s director of Storage Product Marketing, talked during the webinar about OpenStack storage. There’s Ceph, which has been around for about 10 years and is one of the most widely used open source storage options. Expect to see a new version of Red Hat Ceph Storage summer. Ceph provides a single, efficient platform to support all storage needs—block (persistent and ephemeral), object, and file storage—on standard servers and disks. It’s tightly integrated with OpenStack services Nova, Cinder, Glance, Keystone, Swift, and provides user-driven storage lifecycle management with 100 percent API coverage.

One of the reasons Ceph is so popular with OpenStack users is that it is highly scalable. You can start with limited amounts of storage and grow to petabytes of data. There’s no single point of failure, it self-manages at the disk and node level and is self-healing, and data is distributed among all servers and disks dynamically.

As for networking, Levine shed light on two exciting initiatives (and Red Hat is actively involved in both): OpenDaylight and Open vSwitch. The community developing the OpenDaylight Platform is working to unite the industry around a common SDN platform to make interoperable, programmable networks a reality. The platform is a highly available, modular, extensible, scalable and multi-protocol controller infrastructure built for SDN deployments on modern heterogeneous multi-vendor networks. Open vSwitch, a multilayer virtual switch licensed under the open source Apache 2.0 license, is designed to enable massive network automation through programmatic extension, while still supporting standard management interfaces and protocols.

My colleague Sanjay Aiyagari, telecommunications solutions architect, detailed NFV management and Red Hat’s middleware offerings. For NFV management and orchestration (NFV MANO), a working group of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) is working out a specification for a framework for the management and orchestration of all resources in the cloud data center. The main focus is to allow flexible on-boarding to avoid issues associated with the rapid spin up of network components. Red Hat also is participating in this effort.

Red Hat’s portfolio of middleware solutions is designed to bring the necessary components together, and this includes Red Hat JBoss Fuse, Red Hat JBoss A-MQ, and Red Hat JBoss Data Virtualization. Telcos have to deal with hundreds if not thousands of environments. Red Hat middleware provides the glue between what is out there in the field and what it is in the data centers.

An open telco cloud can create new business opportunities. Telcos can create vertical virtual stacks for customers and provide targeted service introductions based on geography or customer sets. This can open the door for new revenue and provide market differentiation.

You can listen in to the entire webinar, “How you can build a telco cloud using Open Source software.” We’d love to hear your feedback, and what your organization is doing with open source software and cloud computing. Let us know in the comments section below.

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