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Embarking on the Path of Cloud-Native Automation: Nephio R1 and Beyond

By August 14, 2023No Comments


  • Sana Tariq, Principal Technology Architect, Cloud, TELUS Communications (Vice Chair, Nephio TSC)
  • Kandan Kathirvel, TSC Chair, Nephio
  • John Belamaric, Chair, Nephio SIG Automation

Nephio Background

Project Nephio was founded in April 2022 by Google Cloud, the Linux Foundation, along with Telecom industry leaders to address the gaps in the industry for cloud-native automation. The telecommunications industry began its transformation to the cloud and DevOps approach with the inception of NFV. Significant transformations have occurred since then, but the telecommunications industry’s journey continues to be challenging due to the complex telecommunications ecosystem. 

Telecommunication companies encounter multifaceted challenges when transitioning to cloud-native architectures. Adapting intricate network infrastructures, including physical components and network functions, to seamlessly function within cloud environments presents compatibility, security, and performance concerns. 

Moreover, achieving regulatory compliance, protecting customer data, and fostering innovation involves delicate trade-offs. Also, upgrading the workforce’s skills in cloud-native technologies and addressing vendor lock-in risks demand strategic foresight. Telecoms must guarantee that their cloud-native solutions meet performance and scalability needs, especially for real-time uses. Concurrently, they must handle the intricacies of distributed systems and microservices using efficient automated monitoring and troubleshooting mechanisms.

In essence, telecom companies embarking on cloud-native transformations face a complex landscape involving technical, cultural, and operational intricacies. Balancing regulatory compliance, workforce readiness, and architectural optimization is crucial to ensure a successful transition while delivering reliable and innovative telecommunication services. A robust cloud native automation and configuration management is required to achieve the desired results.

Nephio is driving a dynamic transformation in telecommunications, pushing companies into the realm of cloud-native systems. This is accomplished by automating different layers, guided by standards, open-source creativity, and collaboration among over 70+ companies. This open source community includes pioneering service providers, innovative cloud platforms, and forward-thinking network function vendors.

At the core of Nephio’s strength is its Kubernetes-based architecture, serving as the foundation for intent-driven automation. This unique method coordinates the complex interplay between network functions and their underlying infrastructure.

Imagine a world where expressing high-level intent translates into a symphony of intelligence and seamless execution. From creating the cloud and edge foundations to engineering the network function’s initial configurations, Nephio’s expertise stands out.

These configurations seamlessly merge into their designated clusters, configuring networks with dynamic parameters following the right balance of shift-left and right to drive simplicity and time to market.

Embedded in this journey is the active support of global telecom service providers, constantly sharing gaps, challenges and opportunities for advancement of community driven project.

Nephio R1 Accomplishments 

Nephio’s remarkable achievement, Release 1 (R1), marks a significant milestone with its seamless automation and configuration. This success spans the full spectrum from infrastructure to network functions, coupled with ingenious life cycle management capabilities. From a user’s perspective, Nephio R1 introduces a user-friendly web interface, enabling the effortless viewing and management of packages and their associated resources. Moreover, it presents open Kpt packages for Free5GC services and Nephio’s core services, along with Cluster API services that facilitate cluster creation. These packages are designed to empower the community, fostering discovery of automation driven by Nephio’s Kubernetes-centric models. With a forward-looking vision, Nephio R1 introduces APIs for the creation and configuration of clusters as a preliminary step towards network function deployment. This holistic approach ensures a unified strategy for automating infrastructure and network functions, minimizing fragmentation and enhancing automation coherence.

Vision on R2 and Beyond

The Technical steering committee (TSC) and SIG Network Architecture work group has been diligently working to align Nephio’s long-term vision with the existing brownfield service orchestration ecosystem. This collective effort aims to establish architectural guidelines and API recommendations, fostering the global adoption of Nephio among service providers. Nephio is built on the pillars of simplicity, standardization, and unification, enabling various infrastructure and network functions to leverage foundational packages and APIs. These resources can be tailored with vendor-specific extensions and SDKs to suit unique requirements.

Nephio’s journey continues with a focus on enhancing user experiences in network function deployment and automation. Employing a self-serve model, it empowers service providers to manage cloud-based applications with freedom and precision. Additionally, Nephio’s APIs will evolve in future releases to seamlessly integrate with both northbound and southbound systems, conforming to telco standards and open-source projects. This strategic alignment not only fosters collaboration with the broader industry but also propels Nephio’s cloud-native automation vision to new heights. With Nephio’s transformative approach we will see industry shifting from vertically integrated closed solutions to cloud native open systems supporting new commercial models and entering a phase of AI/ML delivering code. 

Unite efforts to propel the transformation forward.

Nephio enthusiastically invites the telecom, cloud provider, and network function vendor community to collaborate in driving the essential cloud-native intent-based automation. The broader industry stands to gain immensely from Nephio’s endeavors, and we extend a warm welcome, representing the Linux Foundation and Nephio TSC, to join this pivotal industry initiative.