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February 2021 News

Network automation market set to boom post-Covid

Contributing Editor Annie Turner rounds up February’s automation highlights, from the heat of Magma to the temporary cooling of investment in tech.

The global network automation market is expected to grow rapidly to reach $22.58 billion by 2027 with a compound annual growth rate of 24.2% between 2020 and 2027. In its new report, Network Automation Market Size, Fortune Business Insights says since the first quarter of 2020 small and medium-sized businesses have spent less on business operations due to the losses they have suffered during the pandemic.

This has resulted in less investment in the development of network automation solutions, but post-pandemic, the research house expects the proliferation of 5G and the need to digitalise business processes will propel rapid market growth.

BearingPoint//Beyond also highlighted the importance of the SME sector for 5G. Although they account for 99% of companies, they are largely ignored by telcos – with some honourable exceptions. The company commissioned a report from Omdia which estimates this global market could be worth up to $433 billion (€356 billion) by 2025.

DT picks Nokia for more automation

Deutsche Telekom (DT) will deploy Nokia’s optical transport portfolio to deliver a higher-capacity, more automated network to meet both residential and Industry 4.0 requirements. The operator says the modernised optical core network and strategic regional distribution sites will be easier to scale, enabling faster service delivery times and innovation, optimised performance and consistent customer experience across Germany.

DT said it will also benefit from automation to simplify and streamline operational tasks and so make more efficient use of its network resources.

Nokia WaveFabric service-ready platforms and Nokia WaveSuite software portfolio, which includes the Nokia 1830 Photonic Service Switch (PSS) powered by the PSE-V family of coherent digital signal processors, are at the heart of the upgrade.

Dr Erik Weiss, VP Optical Transport Core, Deutsche Telekom Technik, said the initiative should help reduce total cost of ownership, adding, “The Nokia optical transport solution enables us to realise these goals by creating a more scalable and automated services-centric platform that will support us well into the future.”

Telefónica reimagines IoT

Telefónica, Mavenir and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are working on pre-commercial managed IoT connectivity service, built on Mavenir’s packet core solution and AWS’ cloud structure. Their aim is to reinvent how IoT connectivity services are delivered; the plan is to reduce cost and latency by combining cellular and cloud connectivity so that they can offer Telefónica’s customers in any country a local shortcut to the internet from the nearest AWS region – with automation from end to end, courtesy of Telefonica Tech’s IoT KITE platform.

The project is being developed by the Telefónica’s Core Innovation team in collaboration with Telefónica Tech’s IoT & Big Data unit.

Linux lines up with Magma

The Linux Foundation announced it is to launch an open-source industry collaboration to facilitate development of a converged cellular core network stack. The first step will be to start work with the Magma software platform. This originated with Facebook but will now be managed under a neutral governance framework at the Linux Foundation.

Arm, Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, FreedomFi, Qualcomm, the Institute of Wireless Internet of Things at Northeastern University, the OpenAirInterface Software Alliance and the Open Infrastructure Foundation are joining the collaboration as founding members.

Magma is intended to help operators build and augment mobile networks at scale, and has an access-agnostic mobile packet core, plus network automation and management tools. By enabling the automation of common network operations like element configuration, software updates and device provisioning, Magma is intended to simplify mobile network operations.

Some members of the Magma community also collaborate on the TIP Open Core Network project group to define, build, test, and deploy core network products that leverage Magma software alongside disaggregated hardware and software solutions by the TIP Open Core ecosystem.

HPE joins the Open RAN fray

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has announced its Open RAN Solution Stack which includes intent-based orchestration and AI-enabled automation. HPE said this allows mobile operators to manage thousands of virtual machines (VMs), hundreds of virtual network functions (VNFs) and containerized network functions (CNFs) across their respective network from the core to the edge, reducing risk and allowing operators to seize the benefits of 5G.

The HPE Open RAN Solution Stack includes the new HPE ProLiant DL110 Gen10 Plus server, which HPE claims is the industry’s first Open RAN workload-optimised server. The new stack should be commercially available by July: HPE launched the HPE 5G Core Stack in March 2020.

The stack was developed by HPE’s new Communications Technology Group (CTG), which has been set up to address what the company calls the biggest challenge facing telecoms: the shift from networks built on proprietary systems to open, cloud-native platforms using commercial off-the-shelf infrastructure, along with modular software components from multiple suppliers.

In what looks like a direct contradiction to this statement, SDX Central quoted HPE’s CEO, Antonio Neri, saying the motivation behind setting up CTG is that customers, “don’t like to bring together what I call widgets that they have to put together themselves. What they want is complete solutions that are out of the box able to be deployed and managed in a cloud-native way.

“This is where HPE had tremendous assets across the entire company, but we felt this is an opportunity to act now and bring in every aspect of what we do into one integrated organisation and architecture was the next natural step.”