INTERVIEW Q&A: KISHEN MANGAT, VP/GM MOBILITY & AUTOMATION, CISCO


KISHEN MANGAT


VP/GM Mobility & Automation CISCO

Question:


As the industry moves towards this new software world, let’s start with a fundamental question. What, if any, are the top benefits of using Cloud Native versus Virtualized network functions?

Answer:

Efficiencies can be gained as we move from HW to VNF to CNF. Moving to virtualized functions enabled multiple vendors’ VNFs to run on common x86 cloud infrastructure – allowing SPs to negotiate better pricing. Through NFV MANO standardization, service providers (SPs) also achieved automation of the infrastructure, e.g., compute, network and storage. NFV MANO, however, provided little in the way of application orchestration and this is where the evolution to cloud native can further benefit SPs. CNF platforms (e.g., Kubernetes) are application focused and designed to work across multiple different cloud infrastructures (e.g., public cloud, NFV based telco clouds, or bare metal). The primary benefits of CNFs, if architected correctly, are application automation and orchestration for day 0-N lifecycle management, automated upgrades, and enhanced telemetry and visibility. Kubernetes provides an intent based solution for managing and automating CNFs along with a broad ecosystem of tooling that can further advance CNFs to achieving the same benefits as the cloud applications they were modeled after.

Question:


As operators change what they buy for their networks (HW verses SW), will we also see changes on acquisition of software network products?

Answer:

Yes, in the past network gear was purchased or leased. Then as software solutions became more common, the software products were offered as licenses – not unlike a business licensing computer software suite for their workforce. As the industry progresses, we could expect to see subscriptions replacing licenses. We should also expect to see more offering as a Service (SaaS, etc.)

Question:


Is Cloud Native and Containerized software the same thing? And if not, what is the difference?

Answer:

Containers are a form of operating system virtualization. A single container might be used to run anything from a small microservice or software process to a larger application. That said, containerized software and cloud native software are not necessarily the same. Cloud native software uses tooling such as Kubernetes to achieve automation and lifecycle management, auto scaling, service mesh and workload coordination. An application or CNF must be designed to be cloud native, e.g., decomposed, infrastructure independent, state separated, etc. Almost anything can be packaged in a container in the same way that almost anything can be packaged in a VM. And packaging in monolithic software application in a container provides little value. A cloud native application must be architected to embrace Kubernetes and cloud native best practices to achieve the benefits promised to the CNF ecosystem.

Question:


There has been a lot of attention on Edge services and building out edge computing for RAN, other network functions and customer services. How can the industry (including Cisco) make Edge Computing more affordable and as result more successful?

Answer:

Maturing the technology will help in greater adoption, but also important is to find ways to make Edge deployments more cost-effective. For example, a centralized cloud platform designed for scale is different from an edge platform which needs to be optimized to a small footprint while still enabling automation application onboarding. One approach to this is to use Kubernetes on bare metal at the edge as opposed to replicating an Openstack environment in the core. Additionally, applications at the edge may support different redundancy mechanisms to those in the core to minimize its footprint. Edge computing has the potential of scaling to hundreds or thousands of edge sites which requires centralized management of each edge to reduce the operational cost.

Question:


Is the future of networks gravitating towards a cloud-based as a Service model (i.e. 5GaaS, IoTaaS)?

Answer:

We do see movement in this area. Web service providers and communication service providers both will likely explore opportunities for cloud-based services that can remove CAPEX and complexities from their business customers. For that matter, we could see these companies offering cloud-based as-a-Services to other operators to help them grow while avoiding high CAPEX outlays (i.e. MVNOs, tier 2 operators, etc).