The product is already in trials with “two major wireless operators,” said Thomas Eklund, Kaloom’s vice president of marketing and strategy. It will enter production with operators and enterprises later this year, he added.
User plane function (UPF) is a fundamental component of a 3GPP 5G core infrastructure system architecture. Kaloom says its UPF helps carriers to offload and scale packet core applications at the network edge. UPF is provided on the programmable Cloud Edge Fabric (CEF) platform and runs standard P4 programming language to allow customers to add new functionality. This enables them to differentiate their products to address changing demands, and to introduce third-party services.
“One of the things we wanted to do is make sure we’ll be able to host additional network functions as opposed to just the network fabric,” said Kaloom CTO Suresh Krishnan. “So that’s why we do the UPF. We can interoperate with any other vendor — Ericsson, Huawei, Samsung, and of their 5G entities.”
The fabric natively supports network slicing with full tenant isolation down to the hardware level, which enables better security. Slicing allows an operator to manage network slices, or pieces of its network resources, that can be dedicated to specific use cases or customers without hurting network performance.
Hardware-level slicingallows Kaloom to take a slice of the network and span it across data centers, and also grow or shrink the slice of the network as needed, Krishnan said. “You can have a virtual slice that expands from a data center to the edge,” he said. Or, for example, a company could create a production slice and a test-dev slice. “So if you want to put in a new, cutting-edge functionality you can test it out in the testing slice and it’s not going to affect anything else [on the network].”
The company claims to be the only vendor doing this hardware-level slicing, and credits using Barefoot chips. “We can do this much faster than someone who is waiting for Broadcom to come up with this,” Krishnan said. But, he expects other vendors like Cisco to add hardware-level slicing in the next couple years.
Software Defined Fabric
The new CEF product follows the company’s SDN fabric it released last year. While Software Defined Fabric (SDF) targets large-scale data centers, CEF is designed for distributed edge data centers. It keeps the same attributes as the earlier fabric including programmability, automation, white box networking, data plane offloading, and virtual components integrations such as vRouters and vSwitches.
SDF is optimized on the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, while CEF also supports sophisticated service chaining and in-band telemetry to improve overall networking efficiency. And it is designed for simultaneous 4G and 5G applications.