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As million more devices connect to their networks, telecommunications service providers are migrating from hardware-based network appliances to virtualized infrastructure to enable them to rapidly and economically scale to meet ever increasing demands from customers.

To deliver reliable 5G services, they can improve application performance and reduce latency by extending telco cloud infrastructure from their network core to the edge: closer to customers, devices, and data sources.

5G edge cloud survey

In January 2020, Heavy Reading undertook a comprehensive global survey of operators - 5G Network & Service Strategies, 2020 Operator Survey. Red Hat sponsored the research into operators’ edge cloud deployments. In a webinar discussing the survey, Azhar Sayeed, chief architect, service provider at Red Hat, said, “A few years ago, the focus was on reduced bandwidth and lower operating costs. These latest findings show that application performance is now the primary driver for edge cloud deployment, and you can actually see a shift in the trend for vertical applications support.”

How close is 5G edge cloud?

5G is expected to enable unprecedented levels of data capture, processing and storage at the edge - allowing operators to deliver new services such as digital healthcare, smart traffic management, connected and autonomous vehicles, predictive maintenance, and real-time analytics.

While more than 80% of service providers told Heavy Reading that they had started deploying network edge cloud infrastructure, just 19% described theirs as “mature”. However, most respondents expected to have hundreds of edge cloud locations by 2023, with 34% indicating they would support thousands.

Sayeed stated during the webinar, “If you look at evolution of new services for 5G and particularly the ultra-reliable low-latency [communication], the requirement can be only met when you have split RAN architecture, the cost justification is far better using a virtualized or cloud-native blueprint than your typical hardware.”

Supporting operators’ transformation from CSP to DSP

Red Hat’s open source cloud platforms lead the way in helping digital service providers transform their networks to cloud delivery and extend them to edge locations. As an example, one of the largest MENA operators selected Red Hat OpenStack Platform for its horizontal telco cloud platform to support the delivery of digital services at scale across multiple sites. Anticipating the next phase of NFV and to accommodate CNFs, particularly for 5G, it’s already experimenting with Red Hat’s OpenShift platform, the leading commercial Kubernetes distribution, to extend its Red Hat NFV infrastructure.

As operators transform into digital service providers that are delivering an array of vertical industry services, Red Hat is working in open source communities to simplify their transition to 5G and edge clouds. Red Hat believes that keeping the edge open offers community-powered innovation, consistency of management, automation and orchestration. Service providers can rely on Red Hat’s open hybrid cloud technology to manage diverse workloads, efficiently connect millions of devices at the network edge, and deliver innovative, differentiated services, bringing them closer to customers than ever before.

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