This is part two of a five-part series discussing how Juniper Networks is helping communication service providers (CSPs) partner, collaborate and succeed within the public cloud paradigm. See part one here.
Despite forecasted revenues of $1.55 trillion by 2025, the CSP industry CAGR has slowed to just 1.6%. CSPs may be the architects of the information superhighway, but they can no longer thrive on toll revenue alone. Growth requires new investments beyond connectivity to fund innovation and rebuild investor confidence.
To tap high potential growth areas like cloud IOT, managed IT and private 5G services, CSPs are changing the way they build and deploy networks. Moving from hardware-centric platforms to open, software-centric operational models, CSPs are creating a ubiquitous cloud fabric – what Juniper calls the Cloud Metro – to connect all compute and storage, from the radio access network (RAN) to the WAN and core. In simplest terms, the cloud fabric enables always-on services, from any location to any consumer, with optimal economics and service quality.
At the heart of the cloud fabric are interconnected edge, telco and data center clouds that use physical networks and virtualized overlay networks to connect like-users to workloads and to each other. Cloud applications and services, which are physically and geographically abstract, can be hosted at the edge, bringing them closer to end users and devices. This strategy optimizes the service experience while centralizing non-real time services and control planes to balance economics.
This sounds straight forward, but the path from legacy to cloud has been anything but direct. Approaching ten years of investment, the industry is converging on cloud-native, but virtualization remains embedded in our past, present and future.
In the Beginning – Cloudification Through Virtualization
Since ETSI published its specification on Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) in 2013, numerous articles and whitepapers have been published. Virtualization was the launching point for telco cloud investments, focusing on the migration from vendor-locked services and purpose-built hardware to virtual machines (VMs) and COTS servers managed and orchestrated with OpenStack.
But virtualization has not been a repeatable, point-and-click experience. It has instead resulted in complexity and – ironically – vendor lock-in as CSPs remained reliant upon VNF vendors to build and operationalize the telco cloud. Siloed and optimized for a single service, these first-generation clouds were expensive to deploy with operational costs that exceeded their legacy counterparts. In other words, first-generation clouds succeeded in virtualizing legacy services, but they failed to achieve the expected cloud outcomes of speed, agility and low-cost.
The Evolution to Cloud-Native
Today, CSPs are evolving from virtualization to cloud-native. Why cloud-native? It may be cliché, but cloud-native is truly open, allowing CSPs to plug seamlessly into a cloud ecosystem of application developers and public cloud providers. Cloud-native leverages open-source software with an operational model built upon DevOps automation and technologies like containers, microservices and Kubernetes that were honed by the public cloud providers and released back to the open-source community.
Written for Kubernetes, cloud-native applications are less complex to deploy, scale and manage. Resilient, agile and portable, cloud-native applications expose the inherent value of a stateless software architecture to simplify network design with improved stability and availability. In other words, if an application fails, another takes its place without service interruption or the need for manual intervention. The ‘write once, deploy anywhere’ openness of cloud-native along with a wealth of open-source applications provides greater flexibility, independence and control.
In part three of our blog series, we’ll describe the CSP challenges of migrating to cloud-native and how Juniper is helping CSPs to evolve.