Google has announced a collaboration with Intel to develop reference architectures and integrated solutions for communications service providers (CSPs) looking to develop 5G and edge network solutions.
“The next wave of network transformation is fuelled by 5G and is driving a rapid transition to cloud-native technologies,” said Dan Rodriguez, Intel corporate vice president and general manager of the Network Platforms Group. “As communications service providers build out their 5G network infrastructure, our efforts with Google Cloud and the broader ecosystem will help them deliver agile, scalable solutions for emerging 5G and edge use cases.”
In a blog post announcing the partnership, Google’s vice president and general manager of networking on Google Cloud, Shailesh Shukla, explained how working with Intel would help the company’s bid to appeal to CSPs, and win business from the likes of Microsoft and Amazon.
“Under this partnership we will work closely with Intel in three main areas: accelerating the ability of communications service providers to deploy their Virtualized RAN (vRAN) and Open Radio Access Network (ORAN) solutions by providing next-generation infrastructure and hardware; launching new lab environments to help communications service providers innovate on cloud-native 5G; and making it easier for them to deliver business applications to the network edge,” said Shukla.
Competing with AWS and Azure
Last year, Microsoft and Amazon made serious headway in their bid to engage CSPs with their 5G-ready cloud services. Microsoft cited early engagement with partners such as Telstra and Etisalat, and the fact the company joined the 5G Open Innovation Lab as the founding public cloud partner in May; whilst Amazon worked with Verizon to showcase what AWS was capable of, highlighting how AWS Wavelength was being used at Verizon’s 5G Edge, following the launch of the Verizon and AWS mobile edge computing (MEC) platform in Boston and the Bay Area.
In March 2020, Google announced the launch of its Anthos for Telecom platform, which brought its Anthos cloud application platform to the network edge, enabling telecommunications companies to ‘containerize’ their applications, so they could run Google-validated apps using the Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), which supports a wide variety of containerized applications, including stateful and stateless, AI and ML, Linux, and Windows.
“Much like Android provided an open platform for mobile-centric applications, Anthos for Telecom—based on open-source Kubernetes—will provide a similar open platform for network-centric applications,” Google explained.
Harnessing Intel’s expertise in 5G
With more than 15,000 edge deployments, Intel continues to cement its position as the world’s leading network silicon provider, delivering edge and AI solutions across a range of industries, including retail, education, healthcare and more. And it is hoped that this partnership with Intel will help Google make up ground when competing for business from CSPs, which will come in the form of leveraging Intel technology and use cases already being used around the world to deliver 5G, with partners such as Rakuten Mobile.
In September 2020 Intel announced a partnership with Rakuten Mobile, to help the company deliver the world’s first, fully-virtualized 5G mobile network, using a breadth of Intel technology, which included:
- FlexRAN, which received enhancements to its software reference architecture;
- Intel virtualized radio access network (vRAN) dedicated accelerator;
- Network-optimized next-generation Intel Xeon Scalable and D processors (code-named “Ice Lake”);
- Upgraded Intel Select Solutions for Network Function Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVI).
“By building a virtualized, cloud native network we realize significant economies of scale that kept the capital and operating costs of the network efficient,” said Tareq Amin, CTO at Rakuten Mobile. “Harnessing proven cloud technologies and underpinning our network with Intel technologies like FlexRAN, Intel processors, field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), and OpenNESS toolkit, gives us a powerful foundation to deliver immersive experiences and support a variety of edge computing applications.”
Intel has identified a $25bn silicon opportunity within 5G networks by 2023, and says that the company is looking to “benefit from a perfect storm of 5G, edge buildout and pervasive artificial intelligence (AI)”. And Intel appears to be making good on that promise, as the company’s software reference architecture grew to nearly 100 licensees last year, and added enhancements including optimizations to its MIMO mid-band pipeline and support for ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLLC).
Three main areas of collaboration
Under its new partnership with Intel, Google says that it will take advantage of Intel’s experience in virtualized and open 5G technologies to help CSPs create and manage new and existing services as the edge of their networks.
“We’ll work closely with Intel in three main areas: accelerating the ability of communications service providers to deploy their Virtualized RAN (vRAN) and Open Radio Access Network (ORAN) solutions by providing next-generation infrastructure and hardware, launching new lab environments to help communications service providers innovate on cloud-native 5G, and making it easier for them to deliver business applications to the network edge,” Shukla concluded.