Software-defined infrastructure focuses on using common hardware to support variable 5G workloads

As service providers increasingly take an IT-centric approach to building and managing increasingly complex networks, there’s a move toward swapping out single-purpose hardware for more flexible infrastructure that uses software to virtually spin-up network functions and services. This reduces capex and allows for more dynamic service creation and delivery, which will be key to scaling out 5G.

To this end, Ericsson has partnered with Intel to co-develop what the network gear vendor dubs “software-defined infrastructure” using Intel’s Rack Scale Design, which the company describes as “an industry-wide architecture for disaggregated, composable infrastructure.”

Distributing data center compute and storage functionality throughout the network is a key part of enabling latency-sensitive 5G use cases like mobile VR, for instance. Building out edge computing infrastructure is still in relatively early days but there’s currently direct investment by operators as well as third-party companies building out the edge with the goal of providing it as-a-service for both operators and enterprises.

Ericsson’s SDI Manager automatically discovers network hardware and configures it; from the company, “It logically allocates those resources into virtual, performance-optimized data centers. These vPODs are used for virtual, containerized and bare metal deployments, depending on the need of the workloads.”

According to Intel SVP of the Network Platform Group Sandra Rivera, “5G will be transformative, accelerating today’s applications and triggering a wave of new usages and edge-based innovation. Our infrastructure manageability collaboration with Ericsson will help communications service providers remove deployment barriers, reduce costs, and deliver new 5G and edge services with cloud-like speed on a flexible, programmable and intelligent network.”


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