SUSE Dials Into The Telco-Optimized Edge
Software has direction. Horizontal applications like Microsoft Word, communications applications from WhatsApp to Zoom, social apps from Twitter and onwards, or travel apps from Uber to Google Maps can all be used by users in any industry in almost any environment and for an almost infinite variety of use cases.
Conversely then, vertical applications are those built for specialized industry-specific use cases. This would encompass everything from a specialist petrochemicals application built for dedicated use cases on oil rigs, down to carefully constructed retail apps designed for in-store management and inventory control.
There is also a sub-genre of horizontally-aligned vertical application use case enterprise applications such as those found in Field Service Management (FSM), but these will often be custom-tuned to the use case in hand, so let’s move on.
The telco-optimized edge
Now taking the whole vertically engineered technology proposition one step horizontally wider is Germany-headquartered enterprise-grade open source solutions company SUSE. The company’s Adaptive Telco Infrastructure Platform (ATIP) is a telco-optimized edge computing platform (the computing ‘edge’ being the extremities of the Internet of Things where processing happens away from the datacenter) that enables telecom companies to modernize their networks.
It achieves this with an open and flexible infrastructure that adapts easily to future needs, is optimized for, and simplifies operations at scale.
SUSE says that ATIP is built for the telco edge ‘from the ground up’ i.e. meaning that it has been engineered for telco-grade performance from the start and not as a bolt-on element of engineering or as some form of skewed upgrade to pre-existing technologies – although it will obviously draw from SUSE’s existing platform DNA and competencies. SUSE has developed this platform in close collaboration with the European telco operators including Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefonica and others.
“The future of the telecom infrastructure is fast moving and often difficult to predict,” said Keith Basil, SUSE Edge general manager. “Telecom operators are looking for flexible solutions to modernize their existing networks, help rollout 5G networks quickly and adopt open frameworks, such as Open RAN [a cellular Radio Access Network technology] while navigating disaggregation of their networks. ATIP has a flexible and adaptable infrastructure that future-proofs next-generation networks to support novel applications and use cases expected to arise from 5G, multi-access edge computing and general edge computing.”
Customizable programmable management
As stated then, SUSE ATIP is a telco-optimized edge computing platform that packages the key infrastructure components needed – Linux (operating system), Kubernetes (cloud computing container orchestration), security & management tools (as they sound) – into a customizable form.
Going back to our whole horizontal vertical argument, this customizable programmable management element means that telco operators (of which there are various kinds, sizes, specialisms and strains) can easily adopt and adapt it for broad range of use cases across mobile and fixed networks.
Further, the operators can minimize risk by using their existing infrastructure given ATIP’s support of a wide range of hardware. ATIP’s modularity and flexibility is explicitly designed to support and enable future-looking cloud frameworks, such as the Linux Foundation Europe’s Project Sylva.
Possibly named after the North Carolina town of the same name and announced in November 2022, Project Sylva is an initiative designed to create an industry-wide open source production-grade telco cloud stack for all through a common cloud software framework and adjacent reference implementation. It hopes to reduce fragmentation within the cloud infrastructure layer for telecommunication and edge services.
According to the engineering team, “SUSE ATIP delivers telco-grade performance attributes across the entire stack. Its operating system layer provides low-latency, real-time performance and fast data path. The Kubernetes layer ensures performance-sensitive applications run optimally, with full lifecycle container security delivered by SUSE NeuVector.”
SUSE ATIP utilizes Rancher Prime, a Kubernetes management solution that is known for its simplicity, robustness and user experience. SUSE says it has made key enhancements to Rancher Prime to support telecom use cases i.e. ATIP utilizes GitOps to help users manage and consistently deploy thousands of Kubernetes clusters. With the integration of CNCF’s Cluster API, telco operators can speed the process with programmatic Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that also offer a vendor-neutral integration point.
The whole tale here paints additional onto our notion of vertically-aligned software platforms, tools and applications. As a case in point, there may be no better industry than telecommunications to illustrate diversity user device, differences in underlying infrastructure hardware functionality, application use case scope, data transport types, neural network node nuances and the whole selection pack of cloud computing particularities that need to be catered for.
SUSE has clearly appreciated the inherent complexity, diversity and engineering specificity of telco and so built its SUSE ATIP offering to deliver to a highly complex deployment surface.
All of that still won’t stop the occasional wrong number, so please keep using caller ID where possible – Auf Wiedersehen und danke fürs Telefonieren.