BARCELONA, Spain – Telecommunications giant Vodafone Group has seen some significant efficiency gains by going smaller in terms of its cloud application management.
Fran Heeran, head of network virtualization, software-defined networking (SDN), and network functions virtualization (NFV) at Vodafone, said the carrier is seeing around a 40 percent improvement in resource usage from going with containers compared with virtual machines (VMs). Heeran made the comments during an event at this week’s Mobile World Congress show looking at the use of Kubernetes with the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP).
Heeran said that VMs had a minimum bar for resource usage that was more than what is needed for containers. “Containers give a more fine-grained approach,” he said.
This resource savings can pay off for vendors bringing cloud-native applications to Vodafone. “Those vendors using less resources will pay less,” Heeran said.
Those efficiency gains are nothing new to the container community, which has been touting the benefits of the platform over more traditional VMs.
“The packaging efficiencies from containers is huge,” said Dan Kohn, executive director of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), at the event. “Enterprises that have adopted have seen an advantage in a continuous development model.”
Kohn added that the organization was looking to expand beyond its current focus on the enterprise market and into the networking world. CNCF is housed under the Linux Foundation and includes 16 projects at various maturity levels.
One of those is the Kubernetes Project, which has become the halo project for the organization. Kubernetes was initially developed within Google as a container orchestrator, but it has more recently been used by others such as AT&T for greater control over cloud resources.
Chris Wright, vice president and CTO at Red Hat, said he expects containers and Kubernetes will play a significant part in the current network transformation being undertaken by telecom operators. However, he said that work will include replicating a lot of the past work done with OpenStack into Kubernetes, which could provide some challenges.
“The community didn’t embrace changes in OpenStack, and the Kubernetes community is going to also be suspicious,” Wright said. He added that a key to avoiding suspicion will be to not violate the core tenets of Kubernetes. “Though we have a good experience of doing this in OpenStack,” he said.
The Kubernetes community states it provides the building blocks for building developer platforms, but preserves user choice and flexibility where it is important.
At the Kubernetes-ONAP event, Heeran also touted the benefits of Vodafone having joined ONAP. He said the efforts, which began last September, have allowed the carrier to provide vendors with a more unified model in which to bring on cloud-native platforms.
“ONAP is critical to how vendors deliver standards into Vodafone,” Heeran said. “We need that consistency. We can’t ask them to work differently than they do with AT&T or China Mobile.”
Like Kubernetes, ONAP is continuing to evolve. Arpit Joshipura, general manager of networking and orchestration with the Linux Foundation, noted that “whatever is missing [in ONAP] will develop in open source and will become open spec.”