Today, World Wide Technology (WWT) announced a collaboration with Cisco, along with Altiostar, to develop an Open vRAN blueprint and validation lab and program for service provider networks. I’d like to take a few minutes to explain why this agreement is significant for our service provider customers. But first some background on Open RAN and why it is important.
The Challenge with RAN
Mobile operators are under immense pressure to increase capacity, reduce costs, and launch new service offerings in a highly competitive environment. This combination is a tall order, and operators can’t carry on with business-as-usual and accomplish these goals. While much of the network has evolved to a more open and cloud-ready architecture, the RAN has remained largely unchanged and legacy architectures prevail. This means closed interfaces and monolithic hardware-based solutions limit progress and the ability to diversify their supply chain. This is a substantial challenge that must be resolved, especially since an estimated 70% of network CAPEX and OPEX are associated with building and managing the RAN.
Why Open vRAN?
The Open vRAN approach is a modular strategy for designing and building networks that combine the optionality of open interfaces and a robust ecosystem, with cloud-scale economics. Following 3GPP architectural principles and leveraging standards being defined by the O-RAN Alliance, the monolithic base station is decomposed into functional elements interconnected by open interfaces. Disaggregation, (decoupling of software and hardware) is maximized to allow the deployment of radio signal processing software in a cloud or mini-cloud environment. The combination of these principles allows operators to utilize a far more diverse supply chain to build an architecture that scales like cloud systems instead of hardware appliances. Modular software solutions enable automation across the full lifecycle, from deployment to management and operations.
Cisco took a leadership approach in defining a solutions approach to Open vRAN in 2018 with the founding of the Open vRAN Ecosystem. We are proud to work with our partners, WWT and Altiostar, to enable these solutions. It’s not enough to just have the pieces, they must be integrated into a broader architecture which has the flexibility to be adapted for many use cases and deployment models. This work is especially important as more service providers across every region, are looking at Open vRAN as part of their own network evolution. While some service providers are already adopting Open vRAN, most are looking to their technology partners to provide proven and validated solutions to meet their individual needs.
Bringing it All Together
When we launched the Open vRAN Ecosystem, we identified 4 key areas of focus: Technology, Operations, Economics, and Consumption. Significant progress has been made in the first three areas (which we will highlight more in future posts), and the industry has been looking for cleaner solutions to the consumption quadrant. This announcement shows tangible proof of how an ecosystem approach can solve this. With WWT taking a lead role to integrate, validate, and deliver multi-vendor solutions we get the final leg of accelerating the adoption of these revolutionary solutions.
We’re not starting from scratch either – by using proven components such as Cisco’s Telco Cloud (CVIM), Ultra Packet Core, Crosswork Automation, and Converged SDN Transport, combined with Altiostar radio access software and expertise, we are building on a very solid foundation. And it works! Cisco and Altiostar have deployed an award -winning software-defined mobile network solution at Rakuten Mobile in Japan (click here and for a more technical overview, here).
WWT brings a strong set of capabilities for operators, from their state-of-the-art Advanced Technology Center to deep integration and deployment expertise. Building the validated blueprint in the ATC will allow operators to move from innovation to validation and deployment more rapidly than in the past. Service Providers will be able to see the Open vRAN solution in operation, get their hands on it, and test features that they require.
I couldn’t be happier about this collaboration with WWT and Altiostar. The market needs to shift to more open, virtualized solutions and this joint work makes it very real for operators to adopt.
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