Delivering Automation and Agility for Telecom Networking Transformation

Contributed by Saad Sheikh, Lead Systems Architect APJ, Dell Technologies.

Digital transformation and network modernisation are some of the main drivers for telecom network modernisation. While the new cloud and dis-aggregated deployment models in 5G enable this transformation, they bring also bring challenges that needs to be addressed. Applying DevOps techniques to a telecom networking infrastructure enables smooth delivery and operation through two key capabilities: automation and agility in telecom infrastructure life-cycle management.

We live in a hybrid cloud world, where automation and infrastructure life-cycle management becomes complex. More and more changes are expected to be done across different layers in Open RAN and 5G cloud-native system. To manage these changes we must apply an automated and agile delivery approach in:

  1. Software delivery
    Inventory systems, software repositories, and automation platforms that enable the delivery of software containers in the form of DevOps Continuous Integration / Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines that integrates different customer environments across development labs, testing environments, and production systems.
  2. Test platforms
    Test framework and tools that enable pre and post testing and verification that enable both the open source and vendor agnostic tools as well as vendor and Network Equipment Provider (NEP) specific tools to give a unified observability and testing layer to the Communication Service Providers (CSPs).

Defining use cases for a Telecom DevOps

There has been interest in the industry to standardise efforts on Telecom DevOps models and how it can be realised in practice for the CSPs. The most important use cases for driving standardisation in Telecom DevOps are is around delivering a Test Automation System that drives industry collaboration to create 5G revenue opportunities.

There are challenges when accelerating and simplifying the testing of an open and modern telecom ecosystem around test automation and orchestration. CSPs will not only need to have systems that support faster deployment but also the operations to manage and automate the application once they are put to commercial use. The definition and architecture of Test Platforms is evolving as different CSPs have different preferences and partners choices. Such test automation systems need to be evolved over time to cover different use cases such as voice, data, Open RAN, and along with varying platform choices like Private, Public, and Hybrid cloud deployments.

Dell Technologies is developing more than just a test automation system with the Solution Integration Platform in our Open Telecom Ecosystem Labs (OTEL). It addresses the very real need in the Telecom industry for a secure, reliable, multivendor testing and integration environment that is committed to open standards and 5G innovation. The Solution Integration Platform defines the platforms, connectivity, and lifecycle management processes used by the OTEL Lab. It brings partners and CSPs and industry partners together in telecom’s future together using the latest DevOps techniques to jointly create the open, cloud native, standards-based ecosystem needed to deliver 5G’s full potential.

Realisation of Test Automation Platform Architecture

A reference architecture to approach such a test platform can be depicted as follows.

The architecture provides a cloud-native end-to-end solution validation platform leveraging the latest DevOps techniques accelerating the CI/CD pipeline. With ready-to-use automated test solution to monitor and automate the test activities, the Solution Integration Platform de-risks and accelerates Open RAN and 5G Cloud Native network development, particularly at the integration and testing phases, as well as during delivery and deployment so CSPs can create new service opportunities in a competitive market.

The Solution Integration Platform exercises and performs all the necessary of fetching, building, deploying, sanitising, testing, and analysing of software delivery to test the solutions end to end, using a variety tools and automation techniques. It includes Dell Technologies own Bare Metal Orchestrator for platform deployment automation as well as other state of the art test automation and DevOps infrastructure.

Our Bare Metal Orchestration illustrates our commitment to enabling full-stack operational automation at the scale and complexity of telecom network operators. And Dell Technologies OTEL (Open Telecom Ecosystem Labs) Solution Integration Platform shows our commitment to enable products, software, tools and services that empower the Telecom industry to deploy and manage the dis-aggregated systems at scale. We are partnering with CSPs to build solutions of the future using the latest DevOps techniques to deliver the automation and agility needed for telecom networking transformation.


About the Author: Saad Sheikh

Saad Sheikh is 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 .

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