Open-RAN Feature analysis for brown Field readiness (Industry outlook 2021+ -Part1/2)

2021+ is a special year with so many announcements for Open RAN , instead of taking a marketing boat of saying everything is cute out there the purpose of these set of posts et all my notes is to share my views on current Open RAN features and status from RAN and Radio perspective and how a phased approach is best both from business and technology feasibility perspective to make it successful to evolve Telco’s RAN towards future Quantum ready communication networks for 5G and beyond .

There are many domains in Open RAN that must be carefully thought to build a open and carrier grade RAN System that i will like to talk about in this post mainly

  • Market drive
  • Integration scope and needs
  • Customer requirements
  • Architectures
  • Security
  • Server Models
  • Site Configurations
  • Relation of RAN with Telco’s Edge Future

Based on latest Chipset and Hardware acceleration progress along with radio’s innovation supported by latest automation suites , it is great to share solution updates along following dimensions .

1. Market

Open RAN is only architecture that can adress future use cases and scaling requirements where simply one supplier can not meet all requirements including alternatives to Silicon

Open RAN is a must architecture to bring necessary resilience in a distributed architecture and bring intelligence on top .

Open RAN will be beautiful as Cloud offerings and capabilities will extend to include the RIC and intelligence together with Cloud scale .

Although this is some dimension industry has to wait for few years .

2. Integration

Horizontal interface integration including E2 is not easy if we bring multi vendor so its not just cloud but CUPS and related 3GPP specs that need more heterogeneity

Second is hoe to make sure different vendors with different understandings will cooperate .One technical dilemma is to align how different vendors with different understandings of Specs can be harmonized

Should Operator take new responsibility or they bring forward a trusted partner solving ecosystem issue is a key

3. Telco Needs 2021+

Following are the top needs telco’s should focus to bring Open RAN in brown fields.

  • Energy —building an efficient energy solution is a must to meet our targets on “Progress made real 2030” so is for business .
  • Orchestration —RAN Orchestration has a unique requirements and we need to focus on it more to mature it
  • Performance comparison with Phyiscal brown field —Build a transparent narrative to compare performance of two worlds is a key

I firmly believe the Hybrid is the reality for Future and present of Telco’s and is for RAN . A way two architectures can co-exists and expand is a key

There will be use cases where Open -RAN will be better than legacy and vice versa is and will be true as well
  • Focus on private Networks—Building indoor capacity and those for Enterprise will be very attractive if we can build and give them this solution ready on optimized servers .

4. Architectures

From architecture and solution packaging side following is the key .

  1. Solution Packages —We must get ready of field integration on RAN to make it ready to work in ZTP way the way we made SD-WAN successful . So we must take complete solution in an E2E manner
  2. SMO and RIC innovation — Need more attention on RIC and SMO RFX than other pieces as it will lead to better performance believe or not
  3. Procurement risk — Analyze software supply chain risk same you analyze hardware and chips shortage .

Software is not about supply but also its continuity and stability and bug control .

5. Security

I am a black box and I have decades of experience so trust me I am secure . I swear it can you trust it ????

A decade in Virtualization and Cloud native architectures proved that security of distributed system is always better when it is ready .

Because a distributed and Open system has more vulnerability points and it needs new dimensions and standards on security to be analyzed . On the contrary the Open systems are always transparent and modular and hence trusted to be more secure

Just not rely only on Cloud or 3GPP security standards but also on ETSI NFV/SEC , CNCF along with latest Security WG inputs on Security

Open RAN increase threat surfaces specially for those that lie outside the Data centers like E2 interfaces between CU and DU and the F1 e.g between O-RU and O-DU as for such cases we needed new ways of mutual authentication with zero trust

Another domain is trusted security certification of X-apps coming from trusted partners that uses signed certificates

One domain often mis managed is defining standard onboarding process between vendors e.g between VMware platform and RedHat RAN platform . As per my experience deviation in these always means open spaces for malicious actors .

Solving multi layer dependence in a standard manner is key to bring secure Open RAN solutions to the market and something better than legacy .

6. Server Models

Finally life is not about dreams its about actions and any software vison we need to package in boxes that customers will buy . This is not only a technical limitation but market reality as well so focus on which vendor will help you make what meet your requirements is a key .

Server Models — Making server models that can deploy on mountains , in trenches , in desert , in parks is vital.

Site configurations — Flexibility to align server with site configuration e.g flexibility on DU+CU co-deployment on site , DU and CU distributed including total DU centralization are all dimensions that are important .

Our latest "Event Start" program in TIP is adressing to analyze and solve all these business scnerios and aligning solutions for that 

Already to post looks heavy on words and topics so i need to conclude it now as Part-1 on analysis for 2021+ RAN disaggregation .

I plan to share part-2 on this covering below domains soon .

  • How to access to ecosystem of use cases
  • Service Validation and Integration
  • Software supply chain
  • Onboarding standardization
  • Testing framework
  • Solution Benchmarking and role of Even star
  • Comparison with current systems and how Telco’s can build RAN roadmaps
  • What is sweet spot for Open-RAN and for what it is ready now

Stay tuned …

Orchestration

Saad Sheikh View All →

I am a Senior Architect with a passion to architect and deliver solutions addressing business adoption of the Cloud and Automation/Orchestration covering both Telco and IT Applications industry.

My work in carrier Digital transformation involve Architecting and deploying Platforms for both Telco and IT Applications including Clouds both Open stack and container platforms, carrier grade NFV ,SDN and Infra Networking , DevOps CI/CD , Orchestration both NFVO and E2E SO , Edge and 5G platforms for both Consumer and Enterprise business. On DevOps side i am deeply interested in TaaS platforms and journey towards unified clouds including transition strategy for successful migration to the Cloud

Please write to me on snasrullah@swedtel.com

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