The bar needs to be set so that there is no hunting, hardcoding or restarting from scratch.
5G edge networks will drive cloud video revenues from $5bn in 2019 to $67.5bn by 2024, a CAGR of 67%, according to insights from ABI Research. The performance capabilities of the 5G edge network are empowering communication service providers (CSPs) to deliver immersive, high-quality media and entertainment experiences. End users can experience technologies such as VR and AR, and live and uninterrupted events such as sports games and concerts.
For such experiences, video content must be broadcast in real time without latency or disruption. 5G and edge networks have made this possible for years. Now we are seeing the impact of cloud-native technology working with the edge to handle the increased demand of large-scale video content delivery.
Transforming the edge with Kubernetes
Operators are increasingly adopting cloud-native Kubernetes orchestration tools in edge environments to automate and streamline the use of infrastructure, improving efficiency and agility while reducing costs. Kubernetes has been dubbed the secret weapon for unlocking cloud-native potential, with autoscaling and autohealing abilities that can greatly improve reliability for any 5G service application.
Most operators will be migrating from virtual machines (VMs) to containers. Traditionally with VMs, to scale just one part of an application, such as a VR game, operators need to instantiate an entire additional VM, including all the compute, store, network resources and guest operating systems associated with it. In many cases this process can take a minute or more.
With containers, applications are broken down into micro-services, where one only needs to scale out the micro-serviced container dedicated to a particular function or task. When you manage these containers with Kubernetes, the scaling of microservices is reduced to seconds.
Furthermore, Kubernetes can be set to auto-scale the microservices based on a number of KPIs, further reducing network reaction times to content delivery requests. Similarly, Kubernetes can heal itself when there is a discrepancy between the declared optimal state and any suboptimal state.
Choosing a Kubernetes solution with care
As more vendors turn to Kubernetes platforms to harness the benefits of cloud automation, the assumption by many is that it is a simple cure-all for any repetitive or scale-out task. While Kubernetes is supporting the mass move to the cloud, variations between platforms and orchestration solutions mean there can be large disparities in time to outcome, resource utilisation, solution costs and opportunities. How you automate is just as important as what you automate, and the ease of use of a system influences an operator’s success throughout the lifecycle of its service. Even when deployed across multiple locations and VM and container environments, lifecycle automation, workflow and the overall operations stack need to be unified.
Also relevant to Kubernetes deployments is how to handle stateful workloads such as subscriber information and edge applications, to improve agility and efficiency. However, as Kubernetes microservices add a level of complexity, just snapshotting and cloning storage volumes is no longer enough. For zerotouch automation, one also needs to snapshot the other constructs, such as application metadata, configuration and SLA policies. This enables teams to quickly roll back an entire application to a previous state, or clone it for a fully functional running database from a previous snapshot. The bar needs to be set so that there is no hunting, hardcoding or restarting from scratch. The storage way of doing things goes against the agility and efficiency expected of a platform like Kubernetes and will hamstring an overall solution’s capabilities.
Tangible results for improved 5G content delivery
Implementation of the right cloud-native platform has the potential for a 40% reduction in OpEx scalable orchestration and automation services, and is customer-proven to reduce many scale-out tasks from weeks to minutes, while reducing CapEx by 50% by enabling all of this on off-the-shelf hardware.
CSPs that leverage the benefits of a cloud 5G platform to deliver video content will achieve a more competitive service offering, with faster innovation towards delivering high-quality media and entertainment customer experiences in real time.
Brooke Frischemeier is Head of Product Management at Robin.