UPDATED 11:00 EDT / FEBRUARY 28 2023


VMware entices telcos with expanded 5G and Open RAN portfolio

VMware Inc. today is expanding its line of products for communications service providers and unveiling a service management and orchestration framework that follows the O-RAN Alliance’s guidelines for simplifying and automating radio access networks and their applications.

A radio access network or RAN is the radio element of a cellular network that connect wireless devices to transceivers and ultimately to the core network that connects to the internet. RANs have traditionally been proprietary because of their need for low latency and speed. The O-RAN alliance is championing an open standard that would expand the number of players in the RAN ecosystem.

RAN ambitions

“We think you will see that VMware is at the forefront of getting deployed in telcos both in the RAN as well as in the core,” said Sanjay Uppal (pictured), senior vice president and general manager of the service provider and edge business unit at VMware. “We are extending the leadership we have bringing the enterprise data center learning and SD-WAN [software-defined wide-area network] learning together to become the de facto standard in the RAN.”

VMware is also announcing a technical preview that will allow communication service providers to run disaggregated and virtualized RAN functions directly on a bare metal server, one without an installed operating system, using VMware Tanzu. Called Project Kauai, the initiative is aimed at telecom providers that need flexibility in how they deploy edge devices.

“It will be the VMware cloud platform deployed so customers can choose whether they want a hypervisor or bare metal and have the same automation assurance they get from running VMware in the control plane,” Uppal said. “You can have a cloud-native containerized application running on bare metal.”

Carrier-grade features for telco cloud

The VMware Telco Cloud Platform is also being improved to deliver carrier-grade intelligent networking and lateral security features such as a distributed firewall and intrusion detection and prevention, along with support for energy efficiency use cases for 4G and 5G core load balancing.

That’s enabled by the use of data processing unit-based acceleration capabilities announced last summer that enable networking and security functions to be offloaded from an application host server onto dedicated DPUs. The result is accelerated networking and security performance for virtual network functions and cloud-native network functions along with enhanced network observability and more host resources being made available to applications.

SD-WAN goes 5G

For enterprise customers, VMware is delivering new and enhanced remote worker/device connectivity and intelligent wireless capabilities to its SD-WAN and secure access service edge or SASE products. It’s also expanding a collaboration with Intel Corp. aimed at delivering new edge appliances based on 5G connectivity that support SD-WAN use cases involving mobile and “internet of things” devices.

Using a virtual overlay network on top of underlying transports, VMware SD-WAN enhances application reliability by responding to wireless or wired network issues in milliseconds, the company said. SD-WAN and SASE services both support a wide range of transports, including LTE/3G, satellite transport and wired transport options such as multiprotocol label switching or MPLS as well as broadband.

The company said its SD-WAN can provide a more than 40% improvement in customer experience quality for voice and video applications when using satellite and LTE. The platform also enables higher network utilization through adaptive thresholds designed from experience gleaned from the more than 100,000 cellular and satellite connections that are in use today by VMware customers.

These enhancements are a precursor to the integration of VMware’s SD-WAN and SASE platform with carriers’ management plane application programming interfaces and AIOps practices. The aim is to leverage 5G for advanced service customizations using network slicing and RAN intelligent controller integration. In turn, service providers can better address the enterprise WAN market. VMware is asking selected customers and partners to evaluate the VMware SD-WAN Client across remote user and edge device use cases.

Linked up with Intel, Samsung

The partnership with Intel is aimed at helping enterprises to move more confidently toward wireless networks as an augmentation or replacement for existing wired connections while also allowing for additional SD-WAN use cases that include vehicles, automated teller machines and IoT devices. The first in a series of new devices will be a unit for small branches that uses low-power Intel Atom C-series processors.

Finally, VMware said it’s expanding its collaboration with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. to integrate Samsung’s Open RAN-compliant virtualized RAN products with the VMware Telco Cloud Platform as part of a 5G network buildout by Dish Network Inc.

The topology is tested and fully interoperable and can help CSPs accelerate and streamline Open RAN deployments at large scale while reducing network costs, VMware said. The company also collaborates with Samsung on VMware Telco Cloud Platform support for 5G Core. It’s responsible for key functions within a mobile network such as the user plane, network slicing selection, session management and access and mobility.

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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