At the recent KubeCon + CloudNativeCon 2019 conference, some 12,000 developers and dozens of vendors gathered to learn about the future of containers and how Kubernetes is starting to become the primary path to containerization. Of course, Kubernetes is considered a disruptive technology and, where there is disruption, there is also opportunity for solution providers.
Take for example the impact the technology could have on SD-WAN (software-defined wide area networking), where containers can be placed on bare metal solutions to replace VNFs (virtual network functions). Simply put, containers could transform SD-WANs. What's more, the concept of SD-WAN transformation via containers has become a reality and was demonstrated at the event.
At a live demo, Heather Kirksey, the vice president of community and ecosystem development for Linux Foundation Networking (LFN), employed containers running on a bare-metal instance of Kubernetes to create an SD-WAN in San Diego. This was then used to access 5G wireless networking services running on an instance of Kubernetes, which was running on an instance of OpenStack hosted in Montreal. It fully demonstrated how an SD-WAN network could be built on top of a Kubernetes cluster, and then access 5G wireless network services. It showed how these technologies could transform networking. A separate IP multimedia subsystem to manage the 5G network had previously been set up on a bare-metal instance of Kubernetes in Sophia Antipolis Technology Park in France.
Kirksey says the purpose of this proof-of-concept was to illustrate how quickly container network functions (CNFs) will be able to replace virtual network functions (VNFs) to deliver network services at scale on industry standard hardware. More than 100 members of the LNF collaborated to build the POC. IT vendors participating in the POC included A10 Networks, Alibaba, Altran, China Mobile, Commscope, Foxconn, Intel, Kaloom, Lenovo, Loodse, NetScout, OpenAirInterface, Red Hat, and Turnium.
The POC also brings forth an opportunity for solution providers looking to get into the SD-WAN space and transform legacy technologies from proprietary hardware to something more open. As a matter of fact, over the last several years, builders of network services have been trying to move away from proprietary network hardware by embracing virtualization. Yet, escaping the issues presented by proprietary hardware become one of being locked into specific instances of virtual machines.
Containers are an alternative to VMs (virtual machines) and make it possible to move a network function on to any hardware platform. Containers also remove a layer of virtual machine software that also makes it possible to easily build and deploy faster applications to the network edge.
The Linux Foundation's LNF has begun working with the Global System for Mobile Communications (GMSA), the governing body for the telecommunications industry, within the context of a Common NFVi Telco Task Force (CNTT) initiative to define VNF reference architectures for NFVi. Those reference architectures will be submitted to LFN for testing and verification via the OPNFV Verification Program.
As the technology further matures, vendors will start building offerings that those in the channel can use to transform legacy SD-WAN hardware into something much more open and cloud friendly. To date, there are now more than 500 companies, including Google, Red Hat, IBM and VMware, contributing to various Kubernetes-related projects.
Kubernetes was developed under the auspices of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and offers the core functionality of an orchestration engine for managing containers. While Kirksey says virtual machines will not be disappearing from networks any time soon, the POC demonstrates that CNFs are becoming a viable alternative for delivering network services, and could be applied to a plethora of industrial and enterprise networking use cases.
Savvy managed service providers (MSPs) will want to learn as much as possible about CNFs and establish internal expertise around Kubernetes, simple because enterprises will not be well equipped to deal with a transformation of this magnitude. Otherwise, MSPs might soon find themselves racing to catch up to a major transition in how network services are built, deployed, and managed.
Some say performance, others say money but it may be systems and processes that carry the day
Activist investor's self interests are not aligned with shareholders, HP claims
Having surpassed half a billion euros in its last financial year, the security VAD is pouring its resources into its MSP arm
HP shareholders will be 'better served' by a new director line up, claims Xerox CEO