ONF will unwrap M-CORD-based cloud native demo at MWC Americas

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is getting a jump on a cloud-native platform for mobile core technologies with a demo at MWC Americas this week.

The ONF announced today that it has migrated its entire CORD (Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter) platform to Kubernetes for use in cloud-native environments. ONF also said that mobile CORD has been upgraded to fully containerize the mobile core in order to enable automated scaling and provisioning. 

Carriers are making a move to cloud-native applications as a means to build out their next-generation 5G networks at scale. Operators want cloud-native designs because they can put disaggregated systems into smaller, independent functions that can scale up as needed. Being able to scale up or scale down an application when it's needed is also beneficial because it doesn't leave capital expenses stranded.

With the addition of cloud-native capabilities, the ONF will also be showing how containers can lower operational costs while also streamlining the management and deployment of network functions during the MWC Americas conference this week in Los Angeles.

Containers are lightweight, standalone, executable packages of software code that share an operating system, such as Linux, that can run large distributed applications. Since containers have the bare minimum of software that's needed to run an application, they can be more efficient than virtual machines.

RELATED: ONF is gearing up for new edge cloud, 5G initiatives

The additions to M-CORD also move the ONF closer to edge compute, or edge cloud, capabilities that it has spent the past few years exploring as part of its CORD work.

Key M-CORD demo features will include:

• Automated, policy-based EPC scale-out/scale-in with automated user migration

• Programmable P4 Fabric with virtual network functions (VNFs) offloading

• ONAP integration for RAN and EPC service design and policy enforcement

• Telemetry and analytics managing video service QoE

• Virtualized RAN

• RAN and core slicing

"By now supporting both containers and VNFs, M-CORD is able to support a diverse spectrum of network applications, and the platform is advancing with features like ONAP integration, telemetry, advanced P4 fabric capabilities and more," said ONF's Timon Sloane, vice president of marketing and ecosystem, in an email to FierceTelecom. "All of this gets us closer and closer to be emerging edge cloud."

In July, the ONF announced four reference designs as part of its operator-driven strategic plan that was first unveiled in March. The reference designs were SDN Enabled Broadband Access, NFV Fabric, Unified, Programmable and Automated Network and Open Disaggregated Network. Each of the reference designs are backed by the ONF operator members that plan on deploying those designs in their production networks. 

For now, M-CORD isn't an official reference design, but "ONF operators are actively exploring moving it in that direction in the near term," according to Sloane. The associated operator group for M-CORD would be announced as it takes shape as a reference design, Sloane said. The ONF board is also looking at adding edge cloud and 5G initiatives.

ONF is driven by its operator membership, which includes AT&T, China Unicom, Comcast, Google, Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica, NTT Group and Turk Telecom.

The fully integrated M-CORD demo will be shown live at the ONF Booth in the South Hall #S.2356 at MWC Americas. MWC Americas starts Tuesday and runs through Saturday.