How Project Sylva is Accelerating the Cloud-Native Telco Transformation

Published Date

May 24, 2023


5 minutes

Written By

Sagar Nangare

Cloud-native infrastructure is revolutionizing how 5G networks meet the challenging demands of ultra-low latency, high bandwidth, and massive connectivity. This development offers remarkable scalability, flexibility, and agility. The telecom carriers and solution vendors supporting them have embraced cloud-native practices, propelling the adoption of 5G.However, it is essential to be aware of potential pitfalls in this domain. The following are some of the challenges:

Cloud-native infrastructure technology is constantly advancing, with Kubernetes and other Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) layers playing a crucial role. While these technologies have made significant progress in meeting the requirements of Telco applications, there are still areas where further evolution is needed. The industry should develop open-source standard interfaces to address these gaps rather than relying on vendor-specific solutions.

Soon, Telcos will deploy numerous Edge Cloud nodes to support cloud services and RAN (Radio Access Network) implementation. Despite the advantages of cloud-native infrastructure, Telcos need a consistent computing platform that can efficiently share hardware and connectivity resources among various telco and edge applications.

However, if the Telco industry continues with its traditional deployment approach, in that case, deploying applications that rely on proprietary CaaS solutions and specific physical compute requirements will inevitably lead to fragmentation. The fragmentation of the cloud layer leads to increased complexity for vendors and operators, impacting their operations significantly. Vendors must develop their Network Functions (NF), or application layer, to be compatible with multiple cloud layers, including proprietary solutions from vendors and operators. Meanwhile, operators may manage multiple infrastructures, further adding to operational complexities.

Convergence of Cloud Layer

The convergence of the cloud layer is a crucial solution in the Telco industry. By achieving convergence, all players in the industry can experience reduced fragmentation and improved operational efficiency.

To fully capitalize on the advantages offered by Cloud Native, the cloud layer needs to align with established cloud-native technologies and operating practices. To establish the target architecture, it is crucial to actively build upon automated deployments of multi-cluster Kubernetes on Bare Metal infrastructure. This infrastructure should be managed using a GitOps approach, which includes implementing Infrastructure as Code principles.

To address the challenges related to telco and edge use cases, five European carriers (Telefonica, Telecom Italia, Orange, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom) and two vendors (Ericsson and Nokia) have formed a collaborative initiative known as the Sylva project. The primary objective of this collaboration is to tackle these challenges within the European Union and on a global scale.

The Sylva project introduces a unified approach to hosting 5G deployment applications, spanning from the Core to the RAN. This approach is crucial in promoting innovation for comprehensive digital transformation efforts. The project uses the LF Networking and LF Edge communities to leverage their existing work.

The project will release open-source solutions incorporating the capabilities necessary for a Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) platform to address specific use cases identified by European Telcos, including 5G, O-RAN, and Edge applications. These releases will establish a shared infrastructure framework among European operators, facilitating the federation and integration of edge applications. By adopting this common framework, both operators and network function vendors will be able to demonstrate that their functionality can seamlessly operate on a general-purpose infrastructure, knowing that it can be deployed on any compliant platform. This approach saves time and costs for both vendors and operators. Furthermore, having a common reference framework will drive digital innovation across Europe, fostering a vibrant digital ecosystem.

The goals of the Sylva project can be summarized as follows:

Provide a cloud software framework

The project aims to release a framework that addresses specific requirements. We will develop this framework to integrate with existing open-source components seamlessly. The goal is to produce production-grade solutions used in commercial products.

Create a reference implementation

Sylva aims to develop a reference implementation of the cloud software framework. This reference implementation will serve as a blueprint for implementing the framework in practical applications.

Accelerate adoption of network functions

The project will establish an integration and validation program to expedite the adoption of network functions within the cloud environment. This program will ensure that network functions can be smoothly integrated and validated within the cloud software framework, enabling efficient deployment and utilization.

The Sylva project focuses on addressing several primary technical challenges, which include enhancing network performance, tackling the complexities of distributed cloud environments involving multi-cluster Kubernetes and Bare Metal Automation, improving energy efficiency, strengthening security through hardening and compliance measures, and promoting openness by capitalizing on and contributing to initiatives such as Anuket, Nephio, O-RAN, and others. By addressing these challenges, Sylva aims to optimize network performance, streamline cloud deployments, reduce energy consumption, enhance security measures, and foster collaboration and interoperability within the industry.

Know more about the five technical pillars here



About the Author

Sagar Nangare Manager - Strategic Marketing (Telecom & Networking)

Sagar Nangare is an Manager - Strategic Marketing (Telecom & Networking) blogger who writes about cloud-native stack, cloud, 5G, edge, multi-cloud, and networking technologies. He currently holds the position of Strategic Marketing Leader at ACL Digital.

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