LOS ANGELES – Sprint is relying heavily on virtualization technology and bare metal infrastructure to power its dedicated IoT platform, dubbed Curiosity. That support will allow the carrier to run a software-based service from the network out to the platform and serve specific enterprise needs.
Sprint officially announced the Curiosity platform at this week’s Mobile World Congress Americas event in Los Angeles.
Ivo Rook, senior vice president for IoT and product development at Sprint, described the platform’s focus as improving network latency to allow for the quicker extraction of intelligence from the network. This involves using virtualization to push more processing capabilities to the edge of the network to handle most of those needs and a dedicated operating system to help the platform “come alive.”
Sprint also worked with ARM on security for the Curiosity platform. That security architecture is handled at the chip level and based on blockchain architecture. Rook said this was an improvement over a security perimeter at the SIM-card level because the platform can also manage devices that don’t require a SIM card like those that connect to WiFi.
The Curiosity platform will offer service level agreements (SLAs) for availability, latency, and jitter. Rook said that to provide those SLAs the carrier had to virtualize as much of the network operations as possible. “There’s no other way to do that unless you virtualize it completely,” he said.
Rook said that the bare metal architecture along with virtualization will allow the network to “run anywhere.” This includes in Sprint nodes, in shared data centers, and also at a customer’s on-premises location.
The network is set to go live in November, initially with eight nodes running on bare metal servers. It will have 14 nodes in total by February and scale to 150 nodes by the end of next year.
Nodes can also be set up in an enterprise environment using bare metal or cloud infrastructure. Rook said the carrier can set up a support node in a day and that capacity could be expanded at that node in 10 minutes.
Steve Hilton, co-founder and president of IoT-focused research firm MachNation, said the virtualization aspects of the Curiosity platform open up the door to enterprise-specific customization.
“Well, it means Sprint can quickly tailor an offering to each enterprise customer with SLAs from network to app,” Hilton said. “Literally, with virtualization you can spin up a cloud-based network for each enterprise customer.”
The Curiosity launch is linked to a number of recent Sprint IoT moves. The carrier in June said it was building a dedicated virtualized IoT core separate from its cellular core to support its nationwide LTE-M network. The carrier updated those plans last month saying it was working with Ericsson on the core and dedicated OS.
Photo: Sprint’s Ivo Rook discusses the IoT Curiosity platform at the Mobile World Congress Americas event.