The complexities and technical demands of 5G require flexible solutions and a flexible approach, according to Ildiko Vancsa, an ecosystem technical lead at the OpenStack Foundation.
Telco Transformation reached out to Vancsa to talk about OpenStack's work and insights surrounding 5G, shortly after the close of last month's OpenStack Summit in Sydney. At the Summit, top brass across from the OpenStack Foundation and the OpenStack community announced their plan "to overcome the hardest problem in open source today: integrating and operating open source technologies to solve real-world problems."
Appropriately, the word that kept coming up in conversation with Vancsa was "flexibility." Vancsa said that the OpenStack Foundation has been focused on integrating its technologies with others in preparation for the 5G long haul -- a necessary step because of the velocity considerations of 5G technology (such as bandwidth, latency) combined with trends in public-cloud/private-cloud flip-flopping.
In part one of this two-part Q&A (lightly edited for length and clarity), Vancsa talks about OpenStack's work with 5G requirements, 5G's impact in the APAC region and cost considerations of private-cloud deployments.
In part two, look for Vancsa to discuss the relationship between 5G and the trends toward on-prem cloud and mobile edge computing.
Telco Transformation: What is OpenStack up to right now when it comes to 5G-deployment or other 5G-related projects?
Ildiko Vancsa: I think, from OpenStack's perspective, we would like to ensure that the direction of related projects, especially the networking one, go in line with what the requirements for 5G are. For example, tenant isolation is something that has been in the mindset of this community from almost the starting days. We are also looking into just improving on things where 5G has requirements like latency or bandwidth. Our networking project Neutron has higher priority and focus on quality of service while guaranteeing bandwidth as much as possible. So we have ongoing work items in that field.
We also have several top projects under the Neutron umbrella that are focusing on integration with Neutron as the, let's say, de facto standard REST API that we have for networking with different SDN controllers. We would like to keep the flexibility that we have started to offer and ensure that the integration between our projects and services and these external components are smooth and flexible. We have continuous ongoing work in that field.
And, obviously, as an open-source community, we are continuously looking around at the open-source ecosystem and landscape and trying to ensure that trust, community, and collaboration are there. We are focusing on integration work not just with SDN controllers but, for example, with container technologies -- because containers are another thing that we see used more and more together with OpenStack in various setups.
For instance, eBay is using Kubernetes on top of OpenStack; they figured out how to isolate Kubernetes on top of OpenStack. AT&T is running Kubernetes as their base layer of the infrastructure and running OpenStack services in containers. So from the OpenStack community and the Foundation's perspectives [respectively], we are putting emphasis on ensuring that all of these demands and requirements are addressed -- and we are investing efforts into these areas onwards.
TT: In its latest OpenStack User Survey, OpenStack reported a substantial increase in respondents from the APAC region. Geographically, where is 5G going to have the biggest impact on telcos and network carriers' converged cloud environments?
IV: That's an interesting question. I read a report about a provider in Korea that sees 5G as an indicator or motivator to switching from being a network company to being a platform company, and opening up both their mindset and their platform in the future. While they are preparing for 5G, they are also transforming their business model on this journey. They are one of the companies who are looking into picking up OpenStack -- just a pure, open-source version -- and looking into deploying it and operating it themselves. It's a really interesting journey.
Asia is an up and coming region regarding where 5G will have the most impact from multiple perspectives, and not just that of OpenStack adoption itself but also looking at the communication barriers. I think from OpenStack's perspective, and from the User Survey's perspective, we are just getting there to be able to have them more involved, to have more discussion between those areas and the Foundation, to plug them into the community, and to figure out where they are with their journey and what their plans are.
So from the example of that company in Korea, I would assume that some of the innovations that they are doing will start to inspire some other companies as well, and we will see where that transformation ends up.
TT: Where are we on the path to cloud convergence right now? An IDG survey last year found that 40% of the organizations had moved their public-cloud workloads back to on-prem. Meanwhile, converged on-prem cloud strategies have been getting hyped up and trending in the past year or so. Is there a public-cloud malaise, and, if so, what's causing it?
IV: While on one hand, private cloud is obviously a bigger burden on the company's side, deploying or operating it or having someone to help them manage the on-premise private cloud can give them more flexibility – and, obviously, more control -- on how that private cloud operates and what it can offer. So probably moving back and forth between public and private cloud is a little bit of a debate on how to optimize on cost and what to spend money on. Whether it's the cloud itself, or the application layer, or putting more of the money back into the infrastructure and providing the flexibility to meet the requirements on 5G. I don't really think that we will have a certain point when it will be decided -- or, at least, not in the very near future -- whether it is "private cloud, and that's it," or "public cloud, and that's it."
— Joe Stanganelli, Contributing Writer, Telco Transformation