Ericsson is on a roll this week: the Sweden-based vendor snapped up a 5G contract from TDC in Denmark that in different times could well have been awarded to Huawei Technologies. Three days after that, it signed a first commercial 5G deal with KT in South Korea.
Today, Ericsson unveiled a further 5G agreement in South Korea: it is teaming up with existing 5G partner SK Telecom (SKT) to focus on cloud native 5G core networks technology, architecture, implementation, and operations.
The vendor and Korean mobile operator have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the aim of meeting the need for “agile and programmable” 5G standalone core networks that “efficiently manage growth with automation and simplified operations”.
Peo Lehto, head of solution line packet core at Ericsson, said the two companies plan to build joint solutions as part of efforts to smooth “the profitable introduction of 5G-based services and use cases.”
“Cloud-native micro-services architecture gives simplified and more granular software life-cycle management, higher degrees of automation, and more robust operations based on common mechanisms like container-based, light-weight virtualization and orchestration such as Kubernetes,” Lehto added.
Kubernetes’ latest efforts include pushing the container orchestration platform further toward the edge, as organizations look to extend the orchestration capabilities of Kubernetes across their cloud infrastructure and as the overall edge market sees increased service provider attention tied to 5G deployments.
Meanwhile Jong-kwan Park, SVP and head of 5GX Labs at SKT, said the operator is now planning to migrate from a 5G non-standalone (NSA) to a 5G standalone (SA) network.
“This joint collaboration with Ericsson on the next generation 5G SA Core and cloud native principles will not only enable us to introduce new services faster while at the same time improve our operational efficiency but also support higher availability through simplified operation,” Park added.
The traditional network vendors have certainly been under pressure from operators to focus more on cloud native principles than on “mere” virtualization. Vodafone, for example, has regularly demanded cloud native applications from its vendors, as heighted by Group CTO Johan Wibergh at the recent MWC19 Barcelona:
“VNFs do not excite me,” Wibergh said, noting that applications should be cloud native to take advantage of underlying cloud technologies. He advised vendors to “think NFC” (network functions cloudification), rather than NFV.
5G Contract Wins
Meanwhile, Ericsson has now racked up 16 declared 5G network contract wins with named operators around the globe, including the four major U.S. operators as well as US Cellular. The vendor also cites 43 announced operator agreements, which appear to include MoUs like the one just signed with SKT.