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Dell Technologies industry experts post their thoughts about our Communication Service Providers Solutions.

blogs (2)

Telecom Innovations: Breaking Down the Barriers to DevSecOps

Saad Sheikh

Thu, 01 Sep 2022 16:55:35 -0000


Read Time: 0 minutes

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. 

Diagram, timeline

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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.)

Author information

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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containers telecom

Bandwidth Guarantees for Telecom Services using SR-IOV and Containers

John Williams

Fri, 12 Mar 2021 16:29:21 -0000


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With the emergence of Container-native Virtualization (CNV) or the ability to run and manage virtual machines alongside container workloads, Single Root I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV) takes on an important role in the Communications Industry. Most telecom services require guarantees of capacity e.g. number of simultaneous TCP connections, or concurrent voice calls, or other similar metrics. Each telecom service capacity requirement can be translated into the amount of upload/download data that must be handled, and the maximum amount of time that can pass before a service is deemed non-operational. These bounds of data and time must be met end-to-end, as a telecom service is delivered. The SR-IOV technology plays a crucial role on meeting these requirements.

With SR-IOV being available to workloads and VMs, Telecom customers can divide the bandwidth provided by the physical PCIe device (NICs) into virtual functions or virtual NICs. This allows the virtual NICs with dedicated bandwidth to be assigned to individual workloads or VMs ensuring SLA agreements can be fulfilled. 

In the illustration above, say we have a 100GB NIC device that is shared amongst workloads and VMs on a single hardware server.  The bandwidth on a single interface is typically shared amongst the workloads and VMs as shown for interface 1. If one workload or VM is extremely bandwidth hungry it could consume a large portion of the bandwidth, say 50%, leaving the other workloads or VMs to share the remaining 50% of the bandwidth which could impact the SLAs agreements under contract the Telco customer. 

To ensure this doesn’t happen the specification for SR-IOV allows the PCIe NIC to be sliced up into virtual NICs or VFs as shown with interface 2 above.  Slicing the NIC interface into VFs, one can specify the bandwidth per VF.  For example, 30GB bandwidth could be specified for VF1 and VF2 for the workloads while VF3–5 could be allocated the remaining bandwidth divided evenly or perhaps only give 5GB each leaving 15GB for future VMS or workloads.  By specifying the bandwidth at the VF level, Telco companies can guarantee bandwidths for workloads or VMs thus meeting the SLA agreement with their customers.   

While this high-level description of the mechanics illustrates how you enabled the two aspects: SR-IOV for workloads and SR-IOV for VMs, Dell Technology has a white paper, SR-IOL Enablement for Container Pods in OpenShift 4.3 Ready Stack, which provides the step-by-step details for enabling this technology.  

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