Telecom Innovations: Breaking Down the Barriers to DevSecOps
Fri, 02 Sep 2022 15:16:44 -0000|
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DevOps—the fusion of software development with IT operations—has been a best practice among development and IT teams for quite some time now. More recently, the need to integrate security within the DevOps process has made DevSecOps the new gold standard for software development and operations. While this may seem like great idea on paper, but what happens when the developers, security architects, and network ops teams are not part of the same company? Telecom networks are typically developed by multiple suppliers.
In many cases, telecom software is developed by external vendors in a walled fashion where Communication Service Providers (CSPs) have little visibility into the development process.
The need to adhere to strict telecom standards and models such as Enhanced Telecom Operations Map (eTOM) and European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) also compounds the complexity of DevSecOps in telecom. The third barrier is managing a single DevSecOps pipeline while juggling multiple generations of network equipment and configurations
Removing barriers with open telecommunications
What happens when there is no unified environment to support DevSecOps processes? You build one. That’s what Dell Technologies did with the recent launch of its Open Telecom Ecosystem Lab (OTEL). With OTEL, telecom operators and software and technology partners can work together using an end-to-end systems approach that spans seamlessly across vendor, lab, staging, and production environments.
OTEL provides everything that CSPs and vendors need to support DevSecOps processes with the new Solutions Integration Platform (SIP) including:
- Continuous integration across environments
- Continuous deployment of all new software releases in a controlled manner
- Continuous testing to ensure that updates/changes are mostly (80+ percent) automated
- A closed-loop system where pipeline decisions are driven by real-time data insights
A holistic approach to integration, deployment, and testing
In the last few years, there has been a big push to incorporate continuous integration/deployment (CI/CD) pipelines in the telecommunications industry. This push has been met with resistance because of the following challenges:
- Walled software development,
- Multi-generation network technology,
- and stringent requirements around performance, reliability, and security.
Telecom operators’ enterprise customers also have limited involvement in software development despite a deep interest in the functionality and outcomes of that software. For the operaters, becoming a part of the software development process can mean getting services to market sooner with a finished product that meets the needs of end users.
One of the primary goals of OTEL is to deliver telecom innovation as a platform, providing three core capabilities:
- Integrated software development: Although telecom software vendors will ultimately define and control this process, OTEL offers them a unified packaging template and test specifications that can be shared easily across CSP and partner ecosystems.
- Lab and staging environment: Once the software is validated and security-hardened, it can be deployed in the OTEL lab and pre-deployment environments to identify and fix potential issues before deployment in the production network.
- Replicated pre/production environment: OTEL can replicate the production environment to ensure seamless integration between all components.
Addressing the telco security challenges
Telecom Networks are critical infrastructure and have a unique requirements on security driven by service needs and SLA’s, strong regulations and geographical laws, and cyber and data privacy . For 5G and cloud solutions, which involve many vendors, it is important to build a zero trust security architecture that can be validated and tested in a automated CI/CD driven approach. It is also important to enable security mechanisms that can automate security tests across each layer of network. These include:
- Telecom network layer security
- Service layer security
- End point security
- Data platforms and close loop automation
Integrating both the functional and non-functional requirements of telecom networks including security, reliability, and performance is the unique challenge Dell is trying to address through its state of art OTEL . By reducing the complexity of telecom software development and ensuring better integration and collaboration, OTEL is giving CSPs and their partners the agility and security they need to deliver the next generation of 5G and edge solutions.
To learn more about OTEL and how you can take advantage of OTEL’s state-of-the-art lab environment, contact Dell at Open Telecom Ecosystem Labs (OTEL.)
Saad Sheikh is a APJ Lead Systems Architect for Orchestration and NextGen Ops in Dell Telecom Systems Business (TSB) . In this role he is responsible to support partners, NEP’s, and customers to simplify and accelerate networks transformation to open and dis-aggregated infrastructures and solutions (5G, edge computing, core, and cloud platforms) using Dell’s products and capabilities that are based on multi cloud, data driven, ML/AI supported and open ways to build next generation Operational capabilities. In addition as part of Dell CTO team he represent Dell in Linux Foundation , TMforum , GSMA, ETSI, ONAP, and TIP. He has more than 20 years of experience in industry in telco's system integrators, consulting business, and with telecom vendors where he has worked on E2E Telecoms systems (RAN, Transport, Core, Networks), cloud platforms, automation and orchestration, and intelligent networking.
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Improving Network Operations and Observability for Cloud-Native Networks
Tue, 24 Oct 2023 14:35:04 -0000|
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Communication service providers (CSPs) are rapidly modernizing their networks towards cloud-native and open architectures. However, as the scale of these deployments increases, so does the ever-growing concern about operational management and complexity.
According to the latest report by TM Forum on Autonomous Networks, most CSPs still manage and operate their networks at level-2 automation. This level is where most tasks are completed using statically configured rules, limiting a CSPs ability to monetize Network transformation benefits. As a result, major customers are investing in automizing their operations in order to move to level-3 automation at scale (from 13 percent today to 36 percent by 2026) to achieve zero touch closed-loop operations through dynamic and programmable policies. Level-3 automation will also enable pathways that accelerate adoption towards level-4 automation (from 4 percent today to 23 percent by 2026), which is ML and AI-centric.
Intelligent operations offer several business benefits, including improving return through better TCO, or enhancing Time to Value (TTV) for offerings and further improving resource efficiency. However, there is no cookie-cutter approach to improving network operations. The primary challenge CSPs face is that a significant lot operates a brownfield network and manages a fleet of networks and resources. As a result, building a reference architecture that aligns with their existing operations—and simultaneously accelerates the adoption of the next era of operations—is a complex challenge.
Simplifying Network Operations and Observability
Today, many CSPs are working to address the right solution and platform to optimize operational models. However, these efforts usually result in be-spoke solutions that are hard to manage and scale. CSPs also invest heavily in both time and cost to perform Life Cycle Management (LCM) of these solutions. These challenges create barriers to reaping Cloud and Network transformation benefits.
Dell Technologies has worked closely with leading cloud partners, including Wind River and Red Hat, to offer an operationally ready Telco Cloud platform as part of the Dell Telecom Multi-Cloud Foundation offer. This solution includes co-engineered building blocks referred to as Telecom Infrastructure Blocks, which support zero-touch operations and closed-loop automation. By automating the deployment and life-cycle management of the cloud platforms used in a telecom network, Dell’s Telco Cloud reduces operational costs while consistently meeting telco-grade SLAs.
Additionally, customers can optimize their infrastructures with a cloud platform of choice that is aligned end-to-end to workload vendor specifications and use cases, effectively transforming their operational models and processes. This solution not only streamlines telecom cloud design, deployment, and management with integrated hardware, software, and support, but also fully aligns with a telco-centric operational model.
Telecom Infrastructure Blocks releases will be agile delivered with multiple yearly releases to simplify life cycle management. By the end of 2023, Dell Telecom Infrastructure Blocks will support workloads for Radio Access Network and Core Network functions with:
- Dell Telecom Infrastructure Blocks for Wind River, which will support vRAN and Open RAN workloads.
- Dell Telecom Infrastructure Blocks for Red Hat that initially target Core Network workloads.
To support CSPs’ operational transformation that addresses optimal cost structure, telecom SLAs, and their ability to automate and orchestrate at scale, Dell Telecom Infrastructure Blocks provide the following key capabilities:
- Interoperability – Operating all telco cloud platforms as one abstracts all the complexities from multiple technologies and multiple components from different vendors. This allows CSPs to run and manage the entire platform together.
- Lifecycle management – Typically, a telco network requires long life-cycle time commitments and the ability to coordinate multiple systems with different versions. Dell Telecom Infrastructure Blocks address these issues by providing configuration changes and version alignment for firmware, BIOS, CaaS software and more.
- Closed-loop operations – Operational transformation is evolving towards zero-touch. This requires a new strategic platform that can de-couple infrastructure from application and enable smooth integration with application orchestration and assurance systems following a telco future mode of operations (FMO).
Transforming Operations Using Telecom Infrastructure Blocks
Dell Telecom Multi-Cloud Foundation provides CSPs a platform-centric solution that promises full support and alignment toward CSP level-4 automation. CSPs can flexibly transform their operations to programmable infrastructure using a consistent tooling and capabilities approach.
Through multiple versions and offers with various partners, CSPs can operate all such foundational infrastructure blocks as one through the following key capabilities:
- Remote upgrades – This solution follows a consistent tooling and operational model, which allows operational teams to operate full telecom cloud platforms at scale and enables seamless use from central orchestration tools.
- Operational automation – The Day2 and NOC (Network Operations Center) Telco cloud platform operations can be performed at scale in an automated manner. For CSPs, this means that whole platform can be operated as one following a true IaC (Infrastructure as code) and Programmable infrastructure principle using declarative blueprints. Similarly, patching and LCM options are possible using Dell and CaaS partner-offered tools. Use cases of automatic upgrades and CI/CD of day-n patches and upgrades are also supported as per the road map.
- Single pane of glass – Customers are known to deploy different cloud stacks to optimally support different use cases (possibly runnin g workloads from various partners), which has led to an increasing requirement to operate all cloud stacks as one using a single pane of glass. This provides the operation team a single management and observation platform, which this solution not only supports along the road map, but also creates a unified layer for NOC teams to monitor and manage.
- Green network operations – As CSPs find ways to reduce carbon emissions, there is an increased interest in full observability and monitoring, along with actionable insights to optimize and tune cloud platforms. These areas are on the road map and will also be part of Dell Telecom Multi-Cloud Foundation solution.
- Data-driven architecture – For data to be tapped from core to edge to Radio Access Networks (RAN) the automation architecture used in this solution is data-driven and distributed, enabling real-time use cases and data-driven operations.
- Automated fault management – This solution is fully aligned with the future mode of operations, which follows zero-touch and intent-driven networks. This vision enables all cloud platforms to use declarative workflows and Northbound integration towards Service Management and Orchestration (SMO) and assurance systems.
- Brownfield operations – This solution aligns with CSPs brownfield requirements, which unlocks a range of benefits. These include the ability to integrate existing clusters, integrate existing CI/CD pipelines, and align with existing NOC tools and processes, enabling customers to operate and manage distributed and open infrastructure.
Dell Technologies developed Telecom Multi-Cloud Foundation and Telecom Infrastructure Blocks to accelerate 5G cloud infrastructure transformation. Telecom Infrastructure Blocks for Wind River and Red Hat delivers an engineered, validated, and factory-integrated Telco Cloud platform that is performance-optimized for RAN and Core use cases. It is also fully aligned for CSPs looking to accelerate Intelligent operations and evolution towards level-4 autonomous networks.
To learn more about this solution, visit the Dell Telecom Multi-Cloud Foundation solutions site.
This blog is co-authored with Abdullah Abuzaid, Technical Product Manager, and Anjali Bhatia, Technical Marketing Engineer at Dell Technologies.
Accelerating the Journey towards Autonomous Telecom Networks
Fri, 06 Jan 2023 14:29:40 -0000|
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How Dell Technologies is supporting communications service providers accelerate automation
Communications service providers (CSPs) are on a journey of digital transformation that gives them the ability to offer new innovative services and a better customer experience in an open, agile, and cost-effective manner. Recent developments in 5G, Edge, Radio Access Network disaggregation, and, most importantly the pandemic have all proven to be catalysts that accelerated this digital transformation. However, all these advancements in telecom come with their own set of challenges. New architectures and solutions have made the modern network considerably more complex and difficult to manage.
In response, CSPs are evaluating new ways of managing their complex networks using automation and artificial intelligence. The ability to fully orchestrate the operation of digital platforms is vital for touchless operations and consistent delivery of services. Almost every CSP is working on this today. However, the standard automation architecture and tools can't be directly applied by CSPs as all these solutions need to adhere to strict telecom requirements and specifications such as those defined by enhanced Telecom Operations Map (eTOM), Telecom Management Forum (TM Forum), European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), etc. CSPs also need to operate many telecom solutions including legacy physical network functions (PNF), virtual network functions (VNF), and the latest 5G era containerized network functions (CNF).
Removing barriers with telecom automation
Although many CSPs have built cloud platforms, only a handful have achieved their automation targets. So, what do you do when there is no ready-made industry-standard automation solution? You build one. And that’s exactly what Dell Technologies did with the recent launch of its Dell Telecom Multi-Cloud Foundation. Dell Telecom Multi-Cloud Foundation automates the deployment and life-cycle management of the cloud platforms used in a telecom network to reduce operational costs while consistently meeting telco-grade SLAs. It also supports the leading cloud platforms offering operators the flexibility of choosing the platform that best meets their needs based on workload requirements and cost-to-serve. It streamlines telecom cloud design, deployment, and management with integrated hardware, software, and support.
The solution includes Dell Telecom Infrastructure Blocks. Telecom Infrastructure Blocks are engineered systems that provide foundational building blocks that include all the hardware, software and licenses to build and scale out cloud infrastructure for a defined telecom use case.
Telecom Infrastructure Block releases will be delivered in an agile manner with multiple releases per year to simplify lifecycle management. In 2023, Dell Telecom Infrastructure Blocks will support workloads for Radio Access Network and Core network functions with:
- Dell Telecom Infrastructure Blocks for Wind River which will support vRAN and Open RAN workloads.
Dell Telecom Infrastructure Blocks for RedHat will target core network workloads (planned). The primary goal of Telecom Multi-Cloud Foundation with Telecom Infrastructure Blocks is to deliver telco cloud platforms that are engineered for scaled deployments, providing three core capabilities:
- Integration: All components of the platform, including computing, storage, networking, ancillaries like accelerators, Cloud CaaS software, and management tools are integrated into Dell’s factories.
- Validation: A solution engineered and validated by our cloud partners and already proven to work in the field. The engineering and validation process includes detailed test cases across both functional and non-functional aspects of the platform
- Automation: A Solution that is fully automated and that can seamlessly integrate with Telco’s existing orchestration and inventory systems.
Dell Technologies Telecom Multi-Cloud Foundation meets Telco automation requirements
Dell Technologies Multi-Cloud Foundation provides communications service providers with a platform-centric solution based on open Application Programming interfaces (APIs) and consistent tools. This means the platform can deliver outcomes based on a unique use case and workload and then scale out deployments using an API-based approach.
Dell Telcom Multi-Cloud Foundation enables telco-grade automation through the following key capabilities:
- An open API and workflow approach: All the capabilities of the platform are available as declarative APIs so there is no need to manage each infrastructure component independently, rather open APIs and workflows are triggered via northbound orchestration systems. This capability not only automates deployment but also Day 2 operations and life-cycle management.
- Scalable architecture: The automation architecture is based on a fully distributed and federated architecture, so it can scale to 100,000’s of sites.
- Data-Driven architecture: The automation architecture is data-driven and distributed so data can be tapped from edge and regional sites enabling real-time use cases and data-driven automation.
Automation use cases with Dell Technologies Telecom Multi-Cloud Foundation
Telecom Automation is not just about Day 0 (design) and Day 1 (deployment) but should also cover Day 2 (operations and lifecycle management). Dell Telecom Multi-Cloud Foundation supports the following use cases:
- Automated Deployment: It includes a fully-automated deployment of the cloud infrastructure based on customer specifications.
- O-Cloud as Code: It employs declarative automation using infrastructure data, which includes site data, networking, resources, and credentials to automate tasks independent of the workflow. This de-coupling is crucial to orchestrate the platform.
- Operational fulfillment: Integrations with Wind River Studio Conductor delivers full set of operational tools that provide a single management and observation platform for the operations team. This helps with creating a unified layer for Network Operations Center (NOC) teams to monitor and manage the platform.
- Staging: The platform is staged in Dell’s factory to reduce the time spent deploying and configuring the system on-site and can be tuned in the field using the built-in automation to meet any unique operator specifications.
Dell Technologies developed Dell Telecom Multi-Cloud Foundation and Dell Telecom Infrastructure Blocks to accelerate 5G cloud infrastructure transformation. Our current release of Telecom Infrastructure Blocks for Wind River delivers an engineered and factory-integrated system that comes with a fully automated deployment model for CSPs looking to build resilient and high-performance RAN.
To learn more about our solution, please visit the Dell Telecom Multi-Cloud Foundation solutions site.
About the Author: Saad Sheikh
Saad Sheikh is APJ's Lead Systems Architect in Telecom Systems Business at Dell Technologies. In his current role, he is responsible for driving Telecom Cloud, Automation, and NGOPS transformations in APJ supporting partners, NEPs, and customers to accelerate Network Transformation for 5G, Open RAN, Core, and Edge using Dell’s products and capabilities. He is an industry leader with over 20 years of experience in Telco industry holding roles in Telco, System Integrators, Consulting businesses, and with Telecom vendors where he has worked on E2E Telecoms systems (RAN, Transport, Core, Networks), Cloud platforms, Automation, Orchestration, and Intelligent Networking. As part of Dell CTO team, he represents Dell in Linux Foundation, TMforum, GSMA, and TIP.