How Diverse O-Cloud Environments Enhance
RAN Resilience and Scalability

By: Rhonda Holloway

As mobile network evolution drives relentlessly toward next-generation technologies, network planning, operations and optimization continue to become more complex. This is particularly challenging given that legacy networks and new, more advanced architectures need to coexist and interact smoothly and efficiently.

At this point, it’s virtually impossible for mobile network operators (MNOs) to manage end-to-end network parameter designs, tuning, operations, and optimization using manual processes and basic automation tools. Not only are manual processes time-consuming and susceptible to human error; this approach simply cannot accommodate all the moving parts of next-generation mobile networks in real-time.

Basic automated network operations have become a necessity for daily operations, troubleshooting, and performance optimization of 5G and LTE networks. Yet, the accelerating complexity of mobile network infrastructure demands even more sophisticated automation tools. With the growing adoption of Open RAN architectures, MNOs have at their disposal advanced network automation resources beyond the basics.

The O-RAN ALLIANCE standards include a number of capabilities to super-charge network automation, including guidance and specifications for standards-based infrastructure management and cross-organizational data collection. These functions not only facilitate multi-vendor integration in Open RAN networks, but also enable artificial intelligence (AI) techniques in automated network operations, helping optimize cloud-native 5G networks and significantly improving performance and efficiency.

Go Cloud-native

As the demands on today’s networks escalate, a growing number of MNOs are turning their attention to cloud-native workloads to enable ever greater agility and automation. In fact, analyst firm IDC forecasts that cloud-native deployments will pick up the pace in 2024, with worldwide revenue for telecom cloud infrastructure software to grow at more than 16 percent per year through 2027.

A key aspect of successful migration to the cloud in an Open RAN architecture is a full understanding of the Open Cloud (O-Cloud), as well as management and orchestration of O-Cloud environments leveraging the O-RAN Service Management and Orchestration (SMO) framework. Because the O-RAN SMO allows managed functions to interoperate and communicate within an O-RAN-compliant network, this architecture provides a sophisticated system for programming, operating, and managing billions of network components in a multi-vendor environment, and helping accelerate and automate 5G deployments.

The O-RAN SMO includes integration and data services allowing it to connect to and manage RAN Intelligent Controllers (RICs), O-RAN CU/DU network elements, virtual network functions (VNFs), and the O-Cloud compute platform. This framework is vital to managing and orchestrating the O-Cloud platform, and is a key enabler of more programmable, flexible, and interoperable RANs.

Orchestrating Clouds

Multi-cloud orchestration and management distributes cloud-native applications and software across O-Cloud environments, ideally ensuring efficient use of compute, storage, and network capabilities and optimizing resource utilization. This can streamline network operations by managing infrastructure and life cycles across diverse O-RAN environments for greater resilience, scalability, and flexibility in the virtualized RAN.

Proper O-Cloud infrastructure management leverages distributed control and management of automation and other policies and functions, dynamically adjusting configurations based on network requirements. This allows O-Clouds to be rapidly deployed and scaled to meet changing network demands in real-time, enabling faster service rollout and better responsiveness to traffic fluctuations.

O-Cloud orchestration enables MNOs to easily coordinate and manage deployment, operation, and interaction across multiple cloud providers, including AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and Wind River. And in a disaggregated, open environment, operators are free to choose providers based on services, pricing, or regions, relying on effective interoperability to ensure seamless integration between applications and services throughout the network lifecycle, from deployment to decommissioning.

Embrace O-Cloud Diversity

In the Open RAN ecosystem, the O2 interface connects the SMO function to the O-Cloud, enabling efficient communication and data exchange for comprehensive infrastructure management. This functionality allows the SMO to remotely monitor, control, and optimize distributed RAN elements, leading to more agile, efficient, and cost-effective network operations.

To allow efficient and automated Open RAN deployment and configuration, an important first step is O-Cloud registration and initialization. This process ensures that the SMO has accurate and up-to-date information about available O-Cloud resources


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