Orange is working diligently to make it possible to provision a variety of offerings, including 5G, from a mix of traditional and cloud-based data centers. It's a complex task that depends on customer need and the specifics of the service being offered, says Arnaud Vamparys, the senior vice president for radio networks at Orange Labs Networks.
Vamparys, in part one of a two-part Q&A, told Telco Transformation that significant planning is underway on designing cloud-based converged networks that offer subscribers seamless wired and wireless connectivity.
Telco Transformation: Where is Orange in terms of building out its 5G ecosystem?
Arnaud Vamparys: We want 5G to provide multi-service connectivity for our B2C and B2B customers and to be able to serve 5G specialized services. For that reason, as Orange Labs, we have contributed a lot to standardization. We have made lots of contributions in 3GPP and organizations such as ETSI, the Broadband Forum, UIT and NGMN, which is the Next Generation Mobile Network.
We are also very active in terms of open source. We are contributing to open source groups like OpenDaylight, OpenStack, OpenAirInterface and more recently around a new open source OSS called ONAP.
TT: How does the cloud fit into 5G development efforts?
AV: The key is to understanding the end-to-end infrastructure you need, especially which type of data center on a regional basis or national basis where you need to be able to serve objects like cars. So it's really a way to match the network evolution with the right data center topology.
The other goal is to understand from a cloud perspective what has to be hosted locally and what can be hosted remotely. How to offer industries such as healthcare the right design for what is local and what is removed, for example.
TT: What are some of the parameters? Is it latency? Is it the security? What goes into the thought process?
AV: It's around quality of experience, around throughput and latency. But we also need to understand the right security framework and where to host the data between a local B2B customer site or more remotely. It's very important because, for example, in an industrial plant you have many objects from sensors to video cameras to drones to robots. You need to understand what kind of network features you are using in terms of unicast, multicast and broadcast. And from that it is determined where you put your data center.
TT: So, in a particular physical location, the distinction between the data center and the edge might be different if you have an autonomous vehicle application as opposed to a medical application?
AV: Yes, and that's why we are testing different use cases with different technical partners to understand what should be the generic design of our 4G and 5G networks and what is more specific to a dedicated use case, to a dedicated need.
That's important as we design the introduction of 5G. So, for example, we say that there will start to be 5G smartphone deployment in Europe in 2019, and on a large number of smartphones in 2020. So beforehand we need to design this network evolution. It's key to have the right parameters in terms of storage, computing and security.
TT: Are you seeing a lot of interest from the market?
AV: We see a big interest from our B2B customers due to the fact that it's the first time they have radio access with SLAs. They are very keen to replace their cables, to put this radio access and the latest technologies in terms of the virtualization and network slicing, to really have connectivity on demand. It's where we have the biggest number of interactions and real demand even before the arrival of 5G.
It's something that is not new for us. A big part of the company is Orange Business Services. For decades we've been serving the customer with VPN-based solutions. We have moved now to on-demand connectivity, VPN-on-demand and fiber-on-demand. And here we have this radio access, this 5G-on-demand that will be added. So it's quite fair to say that we want to understand what the right tools are for us to be able to monitor the SLA each B2B customer will ask us for.
TT: Where do you see infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and software-as-a-service fitting into the 5G-cloud infrastructure?
AV: Of course, having built this 5G ecosystem -- software with cloud-ready access -- will help us first, to have SLA monitoring and then step-by-step increasingly dynamic SLAs, where a customer will be able to interact with the quality of experience they want by type of objects, by type of internal user and by type of processes.
To do so it needs a infrastructure-as-a-service design, which enables us to migrate from the usual big data center we are using today to go to more of a distributed data center. We are designing right now our next generation point of presence, that are varied from both our fixed and mobile activities. Because of the decoupling of hardware and software , we can really put all the needed storage and computing that are needed for both the fixed and mobile network where they need to be. That's a really big step for us, this mini-data center a real time we will be step-by-step answer to our customers' needs.
— Carl Weinschenk, Contributing Writer, Telco Transformation