Telecom operators are facing the challenges and opportunities of transforming from traditional networks to new networks such as SDN/NFV. With the promotion of virtualization technologies and the booming of edge computing, edge data center (DC) will become the core carrier of future telecom networks. Because telecom services have different features and coverage ranges, a unified DC can no longer meet the requirements. The services deployed in DC must be classified into different levels to meet cost and service needs. The SDN/NFV network based on distributed and multi-level DC architecture has gradually become a consensus of network evolution for major operators.
Edge DC Becomes the Focus of Operators
Services carried by an edge DC cover the local network layer, meet the needs of local service access, shorten the service response time, and focus on low latency and good user experience. By using local content and real-time data of edge nodes, network services and applications can be used and downloaded more quickly. This relieves the pressure on mobile core networks and allows users to have better network experience.
In the 5G era, a large number of services, especially third-party applications, will be deployed on the edge DC. The local edge DCs close to users will play an important role in improving the competitiveness of operators, and also will be their core advantages and important assets. Therefore building edge DCs has become a major concern of operators.
Features of Edge DC
Edge services are characterized by low latency, high bandwidth, and localization. Therefore, an edge DC that carries these services has the following features:
—Diverse resources: In addition to telecom services, a large number of third-party applications are deployed on the edge DC. The diverse services require the edge DC to provide various resources, including virtual machines (VMs), containers, and bare metal, to meet the needs of various applications.
—High performance: Edge services are close to users. To ensure user experience, VMs and containers that carry edge services must have high throughput and low latency.
—Easy O&M: An edge DC is small in scale and large in quantity, and some sites even need to be unattended, so it is necessary to provide simple and convenient O&M methods to reduce the workload.
—Polymorphic hardware: Operators have a large number of local traditional communication equipment rooms. Considering the cost and reuse, they will deploy lots of edge DCs in the equipment rooms. These equipment rooms are far from standard DCs in key indicators such as area, load-bearing capacity, power supply capacity, and energy efficiency, so they need reconstruction. Due to the poor conditions of some equipment rooms, it is difficult to reconstruct them, so the use of general hardware has physical limitations. In this case, it is necessary to provide polymorphic hardware to deploy edge DCs.
Edge DC Solution
ZTE has launched its edge DC solution to solve the above issues (Fig. 1). The OpenStack & Kubernetes dual-core solution provides diverse resources for services. SR-IOV, DPDK, hardware acceleration and real-time technologies are used to improve theperformance of VMs and containers. The unified management platform greatly reduces O&M workload. The use of integrated hardware breaks the constraints of physical conditions and makes the deployment of edge DCs more convenient.
Dual-Core Driven Cloud Infrastructure
ZTE's edge DC solution introduces dual cores: OpenStack and Kubernetes. Through the sharing of components and resources, the solution integrates installation, O&M, user management, security management and resource management to reduce management overhead while providing complete resources such as VMs, containers and bare metal for applications. This can meet diverse resource needs and provide a solid foundation for infrastructure to smoothly evolve to cloud native.
Software/Hardware Based Acceleration
ZTE's edge DC solution enables real-time operating system, real-time VMs and containers, and vSwitch based on DPDK to improve their real-time response and throughput. The solution also supports a complete hardware acceleration solution that can achieve higher utilization of server resources and meet the requirements of edge cloud. For example, ZTE has launched a smart NIC solution with low latency, high forwarding capability and high performance-to-cost ratio. In this solution, data plane functions of a large number of physical server CPUs, which are occupied by the software vSwitch, are uninstalled to the smart NIC hardware, and the CPU resources released after the uninstall can be used to deploy service applications. For acceleration hardware which is supplied by other vendors such as GPU and QAT, the solution provides a complete management and scheduling function to make services easy to use.
Dual-Level O&M Management System
The O&M management system uses a dual-level management system: centralized O&M and local O&M. It makes full use of the centralized O&M to perform remote operations, thus reducing maintenance workload and costs. It also provides local O&M to facilitate maintenance of the single site, improve its maintainability, and meet different needs of customers.
TECS Director, ZTE's multi-DC cloud management platform, aims at simplifying the management and operation of cloud DCs. By connecting with homogeneous or heterogeneous cloud environments deployed in different DCs, TECS Director unifies management, monitoring, and operation of resources. It can also uniformly perform date backup and recovery, version updates, and patch operations on all edge DCs in the area, which improves reliability while reducing construction costs.
ZTE's edge DC solution provides lightweight local management including lightweight VIM (OpenStack & Kubernetes), lightweight SDN solution (OVN), and hyper-convergence of storage and computing to reduce the consumption of management resources and improve resource utilization.
Integrated Hardware for Flexible Deployment
In some edge DCs, it is impossible to deploy general hardware due to space, power, air conditioning, and load-bearing factors. In this scenario, ZTE can offer hardware devices that occupy small area and are highly integrated. They can match the conditions of existing equipment rooms and minimize the need for reconstruction. The integrated hardware devices balance the size, weight, power consumption, performance and scalability, match the constraints of the edge computing environment, and provide carrier-class reliability. Moreover, ZTE can provide software and hardware integrated edge devices for on-demand pre-installation, out-of-the-box, and one-stop delivery.
ZTE's edge DC solution can meet the deployment scenarios of various edge services and make the cloud better serve services. It also promotes network re-architecture and telecom transformation, helping operators embrace the new 5G era.