ZTE Cloud Works: How Telecoms Companies Can Run Microservices on a PaaS

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The challenges of traditional telecoms software

The traditional architecture of a mobile communications network with its dedicated hardware and software suffers from an over-complicated design making it hard to upgrade and optimize.

In the past, telecoms networks were tightly-coupled, focused on standardization and stability. The whole system was designed as a closed system meaning it would take a long time to get from the drawing board to development and testing. Today, as users demand change rapidly, this long development cycle has limited applications for its market. Also, the network and its services are bound together at the beginning of the design process meaning such a system cannot flexibly respond to change.

Widely used and convenient to access, mobile communication will no longer be confined to communication between people – it will also expand to cover all aspects of human society. As mobile networks evolve towards 5G and beyond, mobile broadband systems will need full-service, fully-integrated networks with multiple technologies.

As telecommunication networks evolve, operators are facing a number of key challenges.

  • Accelerating application development

Traditional telecoms networks suffer from a slow development process meaning they take a long time to launch. With network architectures changing, operators have to consider how they can help developers improve services to make them more efficient and meet the new requirements of users.

  • Services on demand

Telecoms companies need to consider how to provide an innovative service that meets their users’ customization requirements.

  • Accelerating service deployment and maximizing efficiency

Telecoms companies face the challenge of deploying applications flexibly and efficiently on a heterogeneous IaaS.

ZTE’s Cloud Works Solution

Telecoms network functions and nodes are now evolving towards virtualization. Network Functions virtualization decouples software instances from the underlying hardware. Software instances further decoupled into services and applications. Microservices are key to supporting the effective decoupling of applications and services. Microservices construct applications through small, independent processes which communicate with each other through a lightweight RESTful interface. ZTE’s Cloud Works delivers agile development, flexible deployment and elastic scalability of microservice based applications.

ZTE Cloud Works includes a development framework, a service framework and an operations and maintenance framework.

The Development Framework

The development framework includes development tools and the application framework. The development tools include the programming development environment, the version management database, application testing tools and test environments, software integration tools, and code inspection tools. The application framework includes popular high-level programming languages, container deployment modes, the common application framework and development templates.

The Service Framework

The service framework provides public components and a flexible service invocation framework.

  • Component library: Various public service components provide services for NFV applications and third-party developers through the open interface. The component library contains basic components, the IT component and maintenance component.

The basic component is mainly middleware, including a message bus component, a distributed database component and a cluster management component.

The ICT component includes the common component and the control and data plane components. The common component includes the transfer protocol stack component, the load balance component, the VPN component, the DPI component, the billing adaption component and the capability exposure component. The control plane component is used for constructing control plane logic. The control plane component in mobile networks includes access management, bearer management, service security, and mobility management. The user plane component includes a policy routing component, a service chain identification component and a value-added service component.

The maintenance component includes a log and big data analysis.

  • Service integration provides service registration: a detection and binding mechanism for SOA-based applications. It uses the service broker to ensure compatibility with existing or non-open third-party services.

The Operations Framework

The operations framework is responsible for hosting NFV applications. It provides a complete set of lifecycle management functions and adapts to different IaaS platforms.

Cloud Works: Benefits

With automatic development, deployment and operation of applications, ZTE’s Cloud Works helps telecoms companies build a converged PaaS platform, achieving increased speed and innovation.

  1. ZTE Cloud Works solution supports CT/IT applications. It enables the easy integration capability of IT services including NFV and IT components. Integrated with a combination of ZTE, open source and third-party services, Cloud Works offers a powerful service library with diverse capabilities making it convenient for operators and users to build all kinds of IT applications and services.
  2. ZTE Cloud Works is compatible with heterogeneous IaaS platforms such as OpenStack, VMware vSphere and Amazon. Developers don’t need to consider the underlying cloud infrastructure avoiding dependency on a particular IaaS platform.

Customer Benefits

Telecoms companies can benefit from ZTE Cloud Works since it achieves the following:

  1. Improves the deployment and operation efficiency of operators’ NFV/IT software and reduces operational costs.
  2. Meets the customization requirements of operators and users. It delivers open telecoms and IT capabilities. Users can directly access services, reducing cost, shortening delivery times and improving efficiency.
  3. Makes building open ecosystems and cloud services simpler. The platform provides a standardized platform making it easier and faster to develop and integrate new applications.