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The virtualized nature of 5G -- from infrastructure to deployable services -- is fundamentally changing the way carriers build and utilize their networks from a hardware-centric approach to one that leads with cloud.

VMware in late 2020 introduced its first version of its Telco Cloud Platform (TCP) 5G Edition, which brought a new way to automate and orchestrate network functions using VMware's Telco Cloud Infrastructure and VMware Telco Cloud Automation (TCA). 

Since then, VMware has been busy rolling out new solutions that run on top of that platform -- from the Radio Access Networks (RAN) with TCP RAN to edge specific automation with TCP Edge. 

Whether you are investing in one or all of these solutions to deliver 5G-enabled services, VMware's carrier-grade Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) delivers a multitude of ways to support network services and cloud-native applications -- for both near and far edge designs.

Scalable design

The Converged Edge Platform (CEP) 2.0 Reference Architecture is designed to support a minimum of two edge hosts per site, each of which utilize VMware vSAN technology to create shared storage through the use of a vSAN witness appliance located within a centralized datacenter and NSX-T to provide Software-Defined Networking (SDN). 

The addition of TCP Edge for the upcoming CEP 3.0 release allows for CEP to reduce the hardware requirements even further, using just a single node per edge site when required. Neither vSAN or NSX-T are required for a single host design, as traditional vSphere and virtual distributed switching are used. 

The CEP 2.0 Reference Architecture is designed to support a minimum of two edge hosts per site.
The CEP 2.0 Reference Architecture is designed to support a minimum of two edge hosts per site.

This smaller footprint allows for organizations to start small and scale when they are ready by using less hardware and software requirements. It also provides a way to introduce split administrative domains to manage different use cases on different hardware. 

For example, one edge site could have a dedicated host for 5G network services while another host is providing multi-access edge computing (MEC) and content delivery network (CDN) services.

Infrastructure automation

VMware Telco Cloud Automation in the Converged Edge Platform portfolio provides for an automated deployment of regional and edge node software. This includes automating deployments of vCenter, vSAN, Telco Cloud Automation Control Plane, vRealize Orchestrator (vRO) and vRealize Log Insight (vRLI). 

Administrators simply configure the global and appliance specific settings and then upload the appropriate images before configuring the infrastructure domains. Each edge site deployment, therefore, can be provided with automated installation support using required and optional software components of CEP 3.0.

Tanzu Standard Edition

VMware TCP Edge includes VMware Tanzu Standard Edition, a multi-cloud Kubernetes runtime that is automated through templates in TCA to provide a way of delivering RAN and MEC based services to end users. 

Tanzu Standard supports on-premise vSphere deployments, as well as public cloud offerings like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure.

Combining Tanzu with the CEP adds greater flexibility by providing the following CaaS and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) deployment types:

  • Virtual machine (VM)
  • Docker
  • Kubernetes
  • VMware Tanzu

More details on the VMware TCP Edge announcement can be found on the VMware Telco Cloud Blog.

Conclusion

As service providers continue to adopt disaggregated, virtualized solutions that enable speed and agility, web-scale networking solutions are no longer merely nice to have, they are table stakes for operators looking to thrive in the next generation of the economy.

Innovation in mobile networking is continuing at a rapid pace. Most service providers need help accelerating the integration and adoption of such innovative technologies like TCP Edge to realize these benefits. 

Systems integrators, such as WWT, help eliminate this gap and enable operators to quickly adopt new, open architectures, such as VMware's Telco Cloud Platform to increase their competitiveness.

Automate the deployment of innovative 4G/5G-enabled services with the Converged Edge Platform

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