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Meet Nephio Contributor Awards Winner – Sana Tariq

By September 14, 2023No Comments

The Nephio community is proud to recognize and celebrate the outstanding contributions of individuals who have left a lasting impact on our community. The Nephio Contributor Awards are a testament to their dedication and expertise. In this series of interviews, we’re delighted to introduce you to the winners and get insights into their journey, inspirations, and their valuable contributions to Nephio. 

Today, we sat down with Sana Tariq, Principal Technology Architect, Cloud at TELUS Communications, who shared how she got involved in the community, Nephio’s impact in the telecom industry and more.

Can you briefly introduce yourself and your role in the Nephio community?

I am Sana Tariq (Ph.D Computer Science), Principal Technology Architect at TELUS, Canada leading architecture and roadmap for Cloud and Service Orchestration. I have been working with Telco Automation/Orchestration for the last 7 years within TELUS and Industry. I have been involved with Google and some industry leaders around the needs and ideas behind Nephio since the inception stage of Project “Nephio”. I have been serving as TSC Vice Chair and Nephio SIG Architecture Chair. I participated in most Nephio industry events like Nephio Summit in California 2022, Nephio Developer Summit co-located with One Summit, Seattle 2022 and had the opportunity to engage with the broader community to define the architecture, requirements and roadmap for Nephio

How has Nephio impacted your organization or the industry as a whole?

Nephio has two kinds of impacts on any organization or industry. The cultural/mindset shift and business impact with the realization of technology. 

I will start with the first one. Nephio is based on the fundamental principle of cloud native approach that is based on open source kubernetes-based tooling for infrastructure automation, NF deployment configuration and Lifecycle management. Understanding and agreeing to this concept promotes a culture of open-source, inhouse development and ownership of automation stack within service provider’s horizontal tooling rather than vendors vertically integrated closed box solutions. The first step for Nephio’s impact, shifting the mindset and the culture is already underway. 

The second most important business impact will come from Open Source projects maturity in delivering a functioning/working code that can be leveraged as an extension of our existing Kubernetes to adopt the models, SDKs developed by Nephio into our automation ecosystem. The success of growing a library of artifacts and flexibility of using vendor specific extensions will help realize the business goal faster. Fast forward to a few years in the future, if the project gains momentum with NF vendors, we will see operational efficiencies by reducing custom tools through the adoption of common open source orchestration i.e., Kubernetes, achieving more control over day 2+ management of cloud workloads and setting the stage for greater agility and service innovation. 

Cloud-native automation involves complex technical challenges. Could you share insights into how Nephio’s approach has addressed these challenges?

Cloud native automation refers to a set of principles and practices that help achieve a highly efficient and self sustaining model. 

The principles include microservices based architecture, CI/CD tools and processes in DevOps teams, dynamically adjusting resources on demand etc. Intent-based automation helps focus on high-level tasks rather than prescriptive details of manual operations. 

Nephio provides the needed set of tools and principles to achieve cloud native automation. It employs the use of Kubernetes CRDs and operator pattern that enables intent based automation with infinite closed loop to manage reconciliation problems through the common Kubernetes layer. Nephio incorporates the culture of APIs and SDKs for extensions and reusability, a fundamental requirement for scalable automation.  

Nephio’s automation models will be most successful for agile cloud native workloads. Adoption of Nephio for Monolithic and heavy NFs will not realize the expected results. It is hoped that some refactoring/modernization of applications would happen to follow true microservices based architectures as the industry evolves further on that journey. 

What technical innovations do you believe are crucial for Nephio’s future releases to further enhance cloud-native automation in the telecom industry?

Telco/Service Providers are embracing DevOps and cultural shifts across their organizations gaining new skill sets and increasing ownership on managing cloud workloads. There is still heavy dependency on vendors for development and integration work for two reasons.

  1. Vendors intentional efforts to make automation closed around their proprietary products that drives business over legacy commercial models of professional services
  2. Slow learning curve in service providers to take ownership of automation and development in their hands

Nephio should get buy-in from NF vendors in the community to embrace and support cloud native automation ideas. Vendor’s commercial models also need to evolve to facilitate the technology shift. Service Providers being the customers have a huge role in shifting the industry direction.

Nephio should deliver simplified templates creation, APIs and SDKs that facilitate the onboarding, deployment and configuration of infrastructure with extensions that could accommodate all Kubernetes distributions and large number of NF vendors reducing the barrier of entry for service providers to own and manage themselves and become self-serve

What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had while collaborating with other Nephio community members?

I have been an open source ambassador for a long time. I have been involved with the Linux Foundation and ONAP project. I am co-founder of the open source program office (OSPO) at TELUS and also represent TELUS at LFN Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). 

The energy and thought leadership I experienced in Nephio community is rewarding. I truly enjoyed Nephio Developer’s Summit co-located with One Summit, 2022 where I got the opportunity to speak to most prominent vendor’s R&Ds heart to heart. I realized that technical minds around the world are all on the same page, understanding ideas, challenges and steps we need to take as an industry to transform. Kandan and I, as TSC leads, opened the session for discussions and the energy in that room was contagious. There wasn’t a dull moment till the end. I think that was one of the most memorable moments in the community with face to face networking! 

As a Nephio Contributor Awards winner, what advice would you give to aspiring contributors interested in joining the Nephio community?

I am humbled and appreciative of the honor the community has given me. This community has something to offer to everyone. Cloud Providers can discover the true challenges from service providers on their cloud automation journey to align their products to customer’s needs. Network function vendors can find opportunities to improve their solutions that support better cloud native practices and help them create the competitive edge. Service providers leading SIG architecture can steer the direction and roadmap of the project to meet their critical business needs of the future automation. It’s a very neutral, friendly and active forum for everyone to participate, learn and contribute!