After joining Robin.io two months ago, I feel it’s time to share a few thoughts and insights I’ve gained from our stellar team and many Mobile Network Operator (MNO) and analyst conference calls.
There are several major trends in the Mobile industry beyond the obvious (5G) that are important to identify as they are the fundamental building blocks of the next generation networks and next generation services. Today, I will cover the first important trend, and please stay tuned for further posts in this series as I will address additional topics.
Trend #1 – Cloud-Native Computing
The Enterprise IT and hyperscale Public Cloud communities were early adopters of cloud-native computing to handle massive application scaling. The world’s top consumer applications like Netflix, Facebook, Expedia, Amazon, and major industry verticals such as Finance and Insurance, among others, all have been leveraging cloud-native computing and containers for years. Transitioning from monolithic, vertically integrated solutions to microservices and containers reduces the infrastructure overhead of the Operating System and Management layers, which drives down the economics to meet insatiable customer demands.
The Mobile industry was quick to move to virtualized network functions (VNFs) several years ago and is quickly closing the gap with the Enterprise industry to define a path to Cloud-Native Functions (CNFs). Greenfield mobile operators, such as Rakuten Mobile, have had a unique opportunity to start from scratch with a cloud-native architecture and have leveraged best-of-breed disaggregated solutions to reduce their CapEx and OpEx by staggering figures. Robin has benefited from working early with Rakuten to help realize massive OpEx savings by automating and orchestrating key 5G applications such as RAN, Core and Mobile Edge Computing functions. Disaggregating not only HW from SW, but breaking down software applications into microservices will help these applications and network functions scale at the required velocity the market is demanding.
Additionally, I’ve learned that while moving stateless applications to Containers/CNFs is fairly straightforward, the challenge comes with migrating stateful applications, especially data- and network-intensive applications. By solving this hard problem, Robin has positioned itself very well to accelerate MNOs migration from VNFs to CNFs. Robin’s application- and infrastructure-aware functionality is ideally positioned to use automated workflows to instantiate, move and scale in/out/up/down applications to meet network demands. It also allows applications to be placed optimally to address user needs. This becomes very important as applications need to be moved from a private cloud to the public cloud and back again. This could be to support short term capacity demands, relocation for reduced latency to an end user, or simply to follow the best economics. I’ve also heard many times lately that keeping the compute resource footprint of the CNF Kubernetes management platform as small as possible offers major benefits including improved hardware utilization (better CapEx) and more efficient automation/orchestration capabilities (better OpEx). This is clearly a competitive advantage Robin has in the industry according to several MNOs. While many Mobile Operators have been working on a cloud-native architecture for some time, many are still running on Virtual Machines (VMs). The trend is now clearly in CNFs favor.
Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to watch this space for additional posts on these important trends in the Mobile industry. In the meantime, please visit our website for more information as to how we are helping Mobile Operators move forward.