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5G calls for new levels of flexibility in architecting, scaling and deploying telecom networks. Cloud technology offers new innovative alternatives for such Radio Access Network (RAN) deployments complementing existing proven purpose-built solutions. Open RAN is an industry term for open radio access network architecture with open interoperable interfaces and hardware-software disaggregation, which enable big data and AI-driven innovations in the RAN domain. To realize this in scale requires leveraging cloud technologies and web-scale paradigms which leads us to Cloud RAN.
Cloud RAN refers to realizing RAN functions over a generic compute platform instead of a purpose-built hardware platform and managing the RAN application virtualization using cloud-native principles. Cloudification of RAN begins with running selected 5G RAN network functions in containers through Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware platforms. It starts with control plane and user plane in the Centralized Unit and continues with latency sensitive radio processing functions in the Distributed Unit. In this journey, Cloud RAN will adopt leading practices and become a foundation for openness and enable innovation in 5G.
In this blog post we will explore:
- The four components of Cloud RAN
- Key considerations in Cloud RAN
- The value Ericsson brings into Cloud RAN
The four components of Cloud RAN
Ericsson has broken down Cloud RAN into four components that create the foundation for a successful Cloud RAN implementation.
- COTS hardware including accelerators – selecting the right hardware platform and environment.
- Cloud native architecture –realizing RAN functions as microservices in containers over bare metal servers using cloud native technologies such as Kubernetes and applying DevOps principles.
- Management, orchestration and automation – bringing end-to-end life cycle management of services across Cloud RAN, transport, 5G core and underlying cloud infrastructure.
- RAN programmability – deploying non-RAN functions in the virtualized system to add new functionality and additional value.