Tuesday 31 May 2022

Transitioning from Cloud-native to Edge-Native Infrastructure

We have looked at what we mean by cloud-native in an earlier post here. Recently we also looked at edge-native infrastructure here. While we have been debating between cloud and edge for a while, in a new presentation (embedded below), Gorkem Yigit, Principal Analyst, Analysys Mason argues that the new, distributed IT/OT applications will drive the shift from cloud-native to edge-native infrastrcuture.

The talk by Gorkem on '5G and edge network clouds: industry progress and the shape of the new market' from Layer123 World Congress 2021 is as follows:

A blog post by ADVA has a nice short summary of the image on the top that was also presented at a webinar earlier. The following is an extract from that blog post: 

The diagram compares hyperscale (“cloud-native infrastructure”) on the left with hyper-localized (“edge-native infrastructure”) on the right.

  • Computing: The traditional hyperscale cloud is built on centralized and pooled resources. This approach enables unlimited scalability. In contrast, compute at the edge has limited scalability, and may require additional equipment to grow applications. But the initial cost at the edge is correspondingly low, and grows linearly with demand. That compares favorably to the initial cost for a hyperscale data center, which may be tens of millions of dollars.
  • Location sensitivity and latency: Users of the hyperscale data center assume their workloads can run anywhere, and latency is not a major consideration. In contrast, hyper-localized applications are tied to a particular location. This might be due to new laws and regulations on data sovereignty that require that information doesn’t leave the premises or country. Or it could be due to latency restrictions as with 5G infrastructure. In either case, shipping data to a remote hyperscale data center is not acceptable.
  • Hardware: Modern hyperscale data centers are filled with row after row of server racks – all identical. That ensures good prices from bulk purchases, as well as minimal inventory requirements for replacements. The hyper-localized model is more complicated. Each location must be right-sized, and supply-chain considerations come into play for international deployments. There also may be a menagerie of devices to manage.
  • Connectivity: Efficient use of hyperscale data centers depends on reliable and high-bandwidth connectivity. That is not available for some applications. Or they may be required to operate when connectivity is lost. An interesting example of this case is data processing in space, where connectivity is slow and intermittent.
  • Cloud stack: Hyperscale and hyper-localized deployments can host VMs and containers. In addition, hyper-localized edge clouds can host serverless applications, which are ideal for small workloads.
  • Security: Hyperscale data centers use a traditional perimeter-based security model. Once you are in, you are in. Hyper-localized deployments can provide a zero-trust model. Each site is secured as with a hyperscale model, but each application can also be secured based on specific users and credentials.

You don’t have to choose upfront

So, which do you pick? Hyperscale or hyper-localized?

The good news is that you can use both as needed, if you make some good design choices.

  • Cloud-native: You should design for cloud-native portability. That means using technologies such as containers and a micro-services architecture.
  • Cloud provider supported edge clouds: Hyperscale cloud providers are now supporting local deployments. These tools enable users to move workloads to different sites based on the criteria discussed above. Examples include IBM Cloud Satellite, Amazon Outposts, Google Anthos, Azure Stack and Azure Arc.

You can also learn more about this topic in the Analysys Mason webinar, “From cloud-native to edge-native computing: defining the cloud platform for new use cases.”. You can also download the slides from there after registration.

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Monday 23 May 2022

5G Reality Check - Data Rates

One of the common questions that we encounter is why are 5G speeds so low as we were promised 5G downlink speeds of 20 Gbps. Most people do not understand how the 5G speeds are calculated and what do they depend on. In many cases, the network won’t be capable of delivering higher speeds due to some or the other limitation. 

In a new presentation, I try to explain the theoretical speeds and compare them with real world 5G data rates and even try to map it to why these speeds are what they are. Hopefully people won't mind me adding some humour as I go along.

Video and Slides embedded below

Embedded below is the Twitter thread on Speedtests 😂

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Monday 16 May 2022

Lawful Intelligence and Interception in 5G World with Data and OTT Apps

Not long ago we looked at the 'Impact of 5G on Lawful Interception and Law Enforcement' by SS8. David Anstiss, Senior Solutions Architect at SS8 Networks gave another interesting talk on Evolving Location and Encryption Needs of LEAs in a 5G world at Telecoms Europe Telco to Techco virtual event in March.

In this talk, David provided an insight in​to how 5G is impacting lawful interception and the challenges Law Enforcement Agencies face as they work with Communication Service Providers to gather intelligence and safeguard society. While there is an overlap with the previous talk, in this video David looked at a real world example with WhatsApp. The talk also covered:

  • Real-world problems with 5GC encryption
  • 5G location capabilities and the impact on law enforcement investigations
  • Optimal solutions for both CSPs and LEAs

The video of the talk is embedded below:

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Monday 9 May 2022

Transitioning from eCall to NG-eCall and the Legacy Problem

eCall (an abbreviation of "emergency call") is an initiative by the European Union, intended to bring rapid assistance to motorists involved in a collision anywhere within the European Union. The aim is for all new cars to incorporate a system that automatically contacts the emergency services in the event of a serious accident, sending location and sensor information. eCall was made mandatory in all new cars sold within the European Union as of April 2018.

In UK, the National Highways have a fantastic summary of the eCall feature here. The following video explains how this feature works:

Last year, ETSI hosted the Next Generation (NG) eCall webinar and Plugtests. The presentations from the event are available here. The presentations from GSMA, Qualcomm and Iskratel have a fantastic summary of many of the issues and challenges  with eCall and transitioning to NG eCall.

From the Qualcomm presentation:

The eCall standardisation began in 2004 when 2G networks were prevalent and 3G was being deployed. The chosen solution was in-band modem and Circuit Switched (CS) 112 call. The in-band modem was optimised for GSM (2G) and UMTS (3G) as the standard completed in 2008.

eCall for 4G (NG eCall) standardisation was started in 2013 and completed in 2017. As there is no CS domain in 4G/5G, IMS emergency calling will replace circuit switched emergency call. Next generation (NG) eCall provides an extension to IMS emergency calls and support for 5G (NR) has since been added.

The picture above from GSMA presentation highlights the magnitude of the problem if NG eCall deployment is delayed. GSMA is keen for the mobile operators to switch off their 2G/3G networks and only keep 4G/5G. There are problems with this approach as many users and services may be left without connectivity. Fortunately the European operators and countries are leaving at least one previous generation of technology operational for the foreseeable future.

GSMA's presentation recommends the following:

  • New technology neutral eCall Regulation (type approval and related acts) to be amended, adopted by European Commission and enter into force by end 2022 the latest.
  • OEMs to start installing NG eCall /remotely programable/exchangeable modules by end 2022; by end 2024 all new vehicles sold in the market should be NG eCall only
  • New vehicle categories to start with NG eCall only by 2024
  • MNOs have initiated to phase out 2G/3G between 2020 and 2025 , whereas the optimal transition path of their choice beyond this date will depend on market and technology specifics, and may require alignment with NRAs.
  • By 2022 , the industry will develop solutions for the transition period that need to be implemented country by country, which will also assess the amount of needed public funding to be economically feasible.
  • Retrofitting to be acknowledged, completed and formalised as a process by end 2024; standards should already be available in 2022.
  • Aftermarket eCall solution to be completed (including testing) and formalised by end 2024; standards should already be available in 2022.
  • The European Commission to make available public funding to support OEMs and alternative solutions to legacy networks starting from 2022 , under the RRF/ recovery package (or other relevant instruments)
  • Legacy networks availability until 2030 at the latest. By then deployment of all alternative solutions simultaneously would have ensured that the remaining legacy fleet will continue to have access to emergency services through NG eCall.

EENA, the European Emergency Number Association, is a non-governmental organisation whose mission is to contribute to improving people’s safety & security. One of the sessions at the EENA 2021 Conference was on eCall. The video from that is embedded below and all information including agenda and presentations are available here.

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Wednesday 4 May 2022

ATIS Webinar on '5G Standards Development Update in 3GPP Release 17 and 18'

Our blog post on ATIS Release-16 webinar has been one of the popular posts so it's no brainer that people will surely find this Release 17/18 update useful as well. 

The moderator for this webinar was Iain Sharp, Principal Technologist at ATIS. The following were the speakers and the topics they spoke on:

  • Services: Greg Schumacher, Global Standards, T-Mobile USA
  • Systems Architecture and Core Networks: Puneet Jain, Principal Engineer and Director of Technical Standards at Intel Corporation, and 3GPP SA2 Chairman
  • Radio Access Network: Wanshi Chen, Senior Director,Technology at Qualcomm, and 3GPP RAN Chairman

Here is a summary of the webinar:

In Release 17, 3GPP delivered important updates to 5G specifications to broaden their range of commercial applications and improve the efficiency of networks. 3GPP is now starting standardization of Release 18. This webinar provides an up-to-date view of the completed 3GPP Release 17 work with a particular focus on how the work is expanding capabilities of 5G and enhancing the technical performance of the mobile system.

The webinar will cover:

  • The status of 3GPP's work and the organization's roadmap for the future
  • The main themes the delivered Release 17 features in 3GPP specifications
  • How enhancements to 5G are helping the 5G market proposition (e.g., through new service opportunities, or enhanced efficiency of 5G networks)

The webinar will give a technical overview of 3GPP's Release 17 content and its benefits to 5G networks. It is suitable for people in technical roles and technical executives who want to understand the current state of 5G standardization.

The video is embedded below and the slides are available here:

Glad to see that 3GPP Rel-19 work has already started as can be seen in the roadmap below.

(click to enlarge)

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Monday 25 April 2022

Edge Computing Tutorial from Transforma Insights

Jim Morrish, Founding Partner of Transforma Insights has kindly made an in-depth Edge Computing Tutorial for our channel. Slides and video is embedded below.

In this tutorial Jim covers the following topics:

  • Definitions of Edge Computing.
  • How and why Edge Computing is used.
  • Planning for deployment of Edge Computing.
  • Forecasts for Edge Computing.

We would love to know if this answers your questions on this topic. If not, please feel free to post your questions below.  

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Monday 18 April 2022

Holographic Display - The *Wow* Demo from MWC 2022

(click image to see larger picture)

We often associate holograms with futuristic technology and even 6G nowadays but what if holograms could be done in a very simple way just by playing with light? 

At Mobile World Congress 2022, the demo that impressed me most was by a Japanese company called Asukanet. Their ASKA 3D Plate projects images in mid air. This in combination with a 3D sensor allows to manipulate the display without touching. It may be easier to understand this by looking at how this works in the largest convenience store in Japan as shown in the video below:

This is the demo video that I got at MWC

This is us playing with the hologram

While it may not be straightforward, it would complement our smartphones or tablets display nicely. 

You can watch some of the use cases on their page here.

Let me know what you think?

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Monday 11 April 2022

3GPP Release-17 5G NR Reaches Completion

In the last week of March 2022, 3GPP Release 17 reached stage 3 functional freeze. Now the ASN work is ongoing and it will be frozen in June 2022. After that point, any changes will need to be submitted to 3GPP as CR (change request) and would have to be agreed by everyone (or unopposed).

Juan Montojo, Vice President, Technical Standards, Qualcomm Technoloigies, in his blog post reminds us:

Release 17 has been completed with its scope largely intact, despite the fact that the entire release was developed in the midst of a pandemic that hit the world, including 3GPP, right after the scope of the Release was approved in December 2019. 3GPP has been operating through electronic means from the latter part of January 2020 and has yet to get back to face-to-face meetings and interactions. The return to face-to-face meetings is not expected before June 2022. Release 17 completion not only marks the conclusion of the first phase of the 5G technology evolution, but it is a testament to the mobile ecosystem’s resiliency and commitment to drive 5G forward. I couldn’t be more proud of 3GPP, and our team, in particular, as Qualcomm Technologies led the efforts across a wide range of projects. Release 17 delivers another performance boost to the 5G system and continues expanding 5G into new devices, applications, and deployments.

The blog post briefly explains the 'New and enhanced 5G system capabilities' as well as features related to 'Expansion to new 5G devices and applications' as shown in the image on the top.

In addition, 3GPP Rel-17 has many other projects as can be seen in the image above. 3GPP TR 21.917: Release 17 Description; Summary of Rel-17 Work Items has a summary of all the items above but it is still undergoing revision.

Juan also did a webinar on this topic with Fierce Wireless, the video is embedded below:

The slides could be obtained from here.

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Tuesday 22 March 2022

Realizing Zero Trust Architecture for 5G Networks

Over the last couple of years, I keep on coming across Zero-Trust Architecture (ZTA). A simple way to explain is that the standard model of security is known as perimeter security model, where everything within the perimeter can be trusted. In zero-trust (ZT) model, no assumptions is made about trustworthiness and hence it is also sometimes known as perimeterless security model.

This short video from IBM clearly explains what ZT means:

This blog post from Palo Alto Networks also clearly explains ZT:

By definition, Zero Trust is a strategic approach to cybersecurity that secures an organization by eliminating implicit trust and continuously validating every stage of a digital interaction. Zero Trust for 5G removes implicit trust regardless of what the situation is, who the user is, where the user is or what application they are trying to access.

The impact of Zero Trust on network security specifically protects the security of sensitive data and critical applications by leveraging network segmentation, preventing lateral movement, providing Layer 7 threat prevention and simplifying granular user-access controls. Where traditional security models operate under the assumption that everything inside an organization’s perimeter can be trusted, the Zero Trust model recognizes that trust is a vulnerability.

In short, Zero Trust for 5G presents an opportunity for service providers, enterprises and organizations to re-think how users, applications and infrastructure are secured in a way that is scalable and sustainable for modern cloud, SDN-based environments and open-sourced 5G networks. Delivering the Zero Trust Enterprise means taking Zero Trust principles, making them actionable and effectively rebuilding security to keep pace with digital transformation. 

A research paper looking at Intelligent ZTA (i-ZTA) provides an interesting approach to security in 5G and beyond. The paper can be downloaded from here. The abstract states:

While network virtualization, software-defined networking (SDN), and service-based architectures (SBA) are key enablers of 5G networks, operating in an untrusted environment has also become a key feature of the networks. Further, seamless connectivity to a high volume of devices in multi-radio access technology (RAT) has broadened the attack surface on information infrastructure. Network assurance in a dynamic untrusted environment calls for revolutionary architectures beyond existing static security frameworks. This paper presents the architectural design of an i-ZTA upon which modern artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms can be developed to provide information security in untrusted networks. We introduce key ZT principles as real-time Monitoring of the security state of network assets, Evaluating the risk of individual access requests, and Deciding on access authorization using a dynamic trust algorithm, called MED components. The envisioned architecture adopts an SBA-based design, similar to the 3GPP specification of 5G networks, by leveraging the open radio access network (O-RAN) architecture with appropriate real-time engines and network interfaces for collecting necessary machine learning data. The i-ZTA is also expected to exploit the multi-access edge computing (MEC) technology of 5G as a key enabler of intelligent MED components for resource-constraint devices.

Ericsson Technology Review covered Zero Trust in 5G Networks in one of their issues. Quoting from the article:

The 3GPP 5G standards define relevant network security features supporting a zero trust approach in the three domains: network access security, network domain security and service-based architecture (SBA) domain security. 

The network access security features provide users with secure access to services through the device (mobile phone or connected IoT device) and protect against attacks on the air interface between the device and the radio node. Network domain security includes features that enable nodes to securely exchange signaling data and user data, for example, between radio and core network functions (NFs).

The 5G SBA is built on web technology and web protocols to enable flexible and scalable deployments using virtualization and container technologies and cloud-based processing platforms. SBA domain security specifies the mechanism for secure communication between NFs within the serving network domain and with other network domains. 

While the new requirements and functionality introduced in the 5G specifications are already aligned with many of the zero trust tenets. It is already evident, however, that further technology development, standardization and implementation are needed in areas such as policy frameworks, security monitoring and trust evaluation to support the adoption of zero trust architecture in new telecom environments that are distributed, open, multi-vendor and/or virtualized.

While various technologies can support organizations in adhering to the guiding principles of zero trust as part of their total active defense strategy, it is important to remember that technology alone will never be sufficient to realize the full potential of zero trust. Successful implementation of a network based on zero trust principles requires the concurrent implementation of information security processes, policies and best practices, as well as the presence of knowledgeable security staff. Regardless of where a CSP is in its transition toward a zero trust architecture, the three pillars of people, processes and technology will continue to be the foundation of a robust security architecture.

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Tuesday 15 March 2022

5G Network Slicing for Beginners

Network Slicing is a hot topic on our blogs and it looks like people can't get enough of it. So here is a short introductory tutorial from Wray Castle.

The video embedded below explores what Network Slicing is, how it is used, and how it is deployed in the 5G network, as well as (briefly) the role of MEC (Multi Access Edge Computing) in support of specific use cases and potential slice deployments.

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