Cisco recently announced the deployment of its 4G/5G cloud-native converged core gateway in a large, U.S.-based, tier-one network. This new converged gateway serves tens of millions of subscribers (5G SA, NSA, and 4G NSA) along with terra bytes of throughput via a highly optimized networking infrastructure. When we started this journey, we knew we had to depart from traditional development approaches to take advantage of the latest technological advancements and deliver on the promise of 5G in record time.
Historically, introducing new technology (3G, 4G/ LTE) in the wireless telecommunication industry has been a complex and time-consuming process. It is not uncommon for the whole process to take up to a decade to come to fruition. Monolithic software products and complex multi-vendor environments mean the launch of new services is a herculean task.
Conventional software development supports 2-3 software releases a year and is usually a cumbersome and time-consuming upgrade process. As a result, the overall time-to-market for new services can be sluggish. This approach can also be more error-prone because customer feedback is incorporated only at the end of the software delivery cycle, leading to higher churn and multiple software iterations before it makes it to the production network. Also, customer teams rarely work directly with engineering teams during development which can result in a disconnect between the engineers building the code and the customer teams that are managing the network.
Cisco’s Value Proposition
Cisco’s Converged Core gateway addresses these challenges by leveraging cloud-native technologies and a CICD pipeline to build a distributed system with hundreds of microservices. Our converged core gateway is built on four key pillars that are critical to its success in an operator’s network:
- Highly available and geo-redundant design: The converged core architecture is designed to be highly available, geo-redundant, and scalable, ensuring the network remains operational even in the event of an outage or failure. To achieve this, we used redundant components and advanced networking techniques.
- Full-stack cloud-native solution: Our full-stack solution includes a containerized BareMetal platform built on Kubernetes, supporting fully cloud-native 5G network functions. The combined platform and application solution provides a more stable and fine-tunable solution for customers.
- Automation-driven deployment: Leveraging Cisco’s Network Services Orchestrator (NSO) toolset for automating the deployment and management of network services has significantly reduced the time and effort required to deploy and maintain the network while increasing its reliability and performance.
- Simplified real-time monitoring: Platform and 5G applications are monitored in real-time, this allows the network operator to detect anomalies early and avert potential issues before they become customer-impacting.
A Unique Approach
To successfully deploy this solution at a massive scale against an aggressive timeline, we created closed-loop communication between our engineering teams and the customer teams. This approach enabled tighter collaboration and a product that matched customer expectations from the very start.
Bringing engineering and customer teams closer – bridging the gap
By making customer teams an integral part of the overall software development and delivery process, we created a co-development environment supporting faster iteration of new features and the ability to test them in a controlled environment both within Cisco labs and the customer lab before releasing them to production.
This approach helped streamline the software development process enabling frequent software drops, improving software quality, and accelerating the time to deployment.
The software upgrade process was standardized to follow a rolling upgrade strategy that simplified the overall process and reduced the upgrade time from several hours to under one hour.
Bringing engineers into the fold for real-time monitoring
Software engineers were empowered with real-time network monitoring, providing visibility into critical issues early so they could be proactively addressed. Additionally, real-time data on network service level KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), enabled the software engineers to better understand how the software is used in the field and the impact of any issues on the overall performance of the network.
The result? Real-time monitoring by the engineering team accelerated the development cycle and helped to deliver high-quality software to the customer.
A powerful and innovative solution, our Converged Core gateway offers enables service providers to optimize their networking infrastructure as they adopt new technologies such as 5G. And with its highly available and geo-redundant design, containerized platform, deployment automation, and monitoring capabilities, Cisco’s Converged Core gateway gives customers a distinct edge in a highly competitive industry.
For More Information
To learn more about the Cisco Converged Core, visit our product pages.
To learn more about T-Mobile and Cisco’s Launch of the World’s Largest Cloud Native Converged Core Gateway, read the December 2022 press release.