Containers are a foundational element for a telco network 5G Core (5GC) and on-demand network slicing services, both requiring light and scalable Network Functions (NFs). On the other hand, Virtual Machine (VM) technology is a well-proven and mature solution implemented by Communication Service Providers (CSPs) worldwide and is expected to remain a key component of many networks in the coming years. As a result, CSPs are looking to telco cloud platforms to simplify and automate network operations to manage and orchestrate increasingly complex and disaggregated networks.

However, the transition to autonomous telco cloud networks is an arduous task, and industry players need to overcome various challenges, including ensuring uniform data management, cloud technology fragmentation, and the need to maximize the value of previous network builds.

At the infrastructure and NF layers, technology is developing quickly to meet several industry needs:

  • Unified Physical Network Function (PNF), Virtual Network Function (VNF), and Cloud-Native Network Function (CNF) management
  • Enabling consistent performance, reliability, and user experience in hybrid VNF/CNF environments
  • Centralized support at the hardware infrastructure layer. 

The industry is progressing rapidly, with future and further enhancements of cloud-native platforms already in the works. Hybrid VM/container deployments will ease the cloud-native transformation for CSPs, while unified hardware/software management and intent-based operations will drive networks toward increased automation.

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