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What is the role of DevOps in telco cloud success?

Case studies and a discussion around DevOps and telco cloud

DevOps is the cornerstone of modern software engineering and essential to cloud computing. DevOps promises faster software deployment and higher quality results by making the process continuous and integrated. 5G’s core architecture gives network operators the ability to test, deploy, and scale new services at hyperscaler velocity, but the cloud-native design also presents operational challenges. 

Going cloud-native means thinking cloud-native. DevOps embeds both an operational and cultural shift in organizations. First, a broad overview. While each business may use different approaches, the DevOps process incorporates seven unique steps.

  1. Planning: Determining the scope of work and resources needed.
  2. Development: Writing code.
  3. Integration: Individual developers merge code changes into a central repository. 
  4. Monitoring: Entailing the process of overseeing the entire process from soup to nuts, including testing and verification.
  5. Feedback: Internal reviews of how the systems within the DevOps process function.
  6. Deployment: The production push involved in publishing the actual software code, again occurring continuously as iterative improvements are made.
  7. Operations: Working hand in hand with monitoring, operations oversees the process to make sure everything stays on track.

French telco Orange is in the midst of integrating DevOps into its operations. Alexis Koalla is responsible for implementing those changes as Head of Operations for Transformation towards Agile and DevSecOps. (DevSecOps is a security-focused DevOps process.) 

Koalla took part in a discussion about DevOps as part of RCR Wireless News’ Telco Cloud Forum 2022, along with representatives from IoT connectivity services provider KORE and Network as a Service (NaaS) provider WorkingGroupTwo.

“It’s about culture, not just tooling processes and technology,” Koalla told RCR Wireless News during the Telco Cloud Forum. 

Orange identified four challenge areas in its DevOps transformation process, starting with integration with external vendors and managing a new that heterogeneity. Continuous integration and deployment requires a reorganization of source code repositories and better alignment with external vendors. Aligning efforts with external vendors and stakeholders presents challenges, as does the development of Infrastructure as Code (IaC).

DevOps reduces toil

Jorrit Kronjee Vice President of Engineering, CaaS at KORE said that automating manual, repetitive tasks is key to continuous integration, deployment, and testing. “DevOps encourages to reduce toil,” he said. 

KORE automates tests throughout the development and production pipeline to verify builds and integration. 

“Doing continuous integration early will help our developers see how their change affects other components of the architecture, allowing us to address integration issues early,” he said.

“Not all developers enjoy being on call for things they didn’t build themselves,” said WorkingGroupTwo Werner Eriksen. Successfully integrating DevOps means having a flexible and transparent process.

“So even if you have the ability, you need to make sure the tooling is in place for people to feel safe and sound about being on call when they’re needed,” said Eriksen.

Orange is taking a modular approach to the development of its telco cloud, said Koalla, intended for both internal and external needs. Orange’s full-stack development approach helps that its telco meet dynamic and variable operational requirements, Koalla said. 

Internally, the telco cloud needs to align with IT operations. But the same core technology also needs to work in private 5G enterprise deployments, for edge computing, and other customer-specific services. The key, said Koalla, is building a federation layer which exposes common Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) tied to each individual deployment infrastructure.

“At this layer you can have several federators,” said Koalla. “And on top of that, we will have the services offered by the market.”

This reduces cost and simplifies access, and mutualizes the effort between different stakeholders, said Koalla.

“We are not alone. We cannot build things alone. If we want to succeed with federation, we need a strong collaboration with vendors and suppliers,” he added.


Peter Cohen
Peter Cohen
Peter is Technology Editor for RCR Wireless News. His coverage areas include telco cloud and the convergence of 5G and cloud computing. Peter's background includes IT management and a decade as a senior editor at Macworld. He and his family live in Massachusetts.

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