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Automating Cloud-Native 5G from Release to Production


At Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2023, IBM and Spirent will exhibit their collaboration in continuous test and deployment to automate the 5G cloud-native deployment process. Three use cases demonstrate how these advanced testing solutions can ensure software entering the production network environments works as intended.

For service providers to leverage 5G services and successfully monetize them, an automated end-to-end lifecycle management with continuous test and deployment is key. Service providers are turning to IBM and Spirent to automate delivery of validated, secure cloud-native services through a new collaborative solution that merges IBM’s continuous delivery with Spirent’s continuous test expertise.

IBM’s Cloud Pak for Network Automation (CP4NA), which includes cloud-native function (CNF) and service lifecycle management, integrates Spirent test and active assurance capabilities to deliver end-to-end lifecycle management of network fuctions and services. This enables automated test inclusion in deployment, as well as in day-2 operations. The solution automates the processing of multi-vendor updates and ensures CNFs are ready to be placed into the production network. Rapid continuous testing and deployment of new features and innovation speeds time-to-market for new services and keeps a service provider network running smoothly.

Manual processes are not feasible for managing real-time, dynamic 5G services. Intelligent automation and AI are essential tools to manage the volume and complexity of this lifecycle management process and to reduce costs and accelerate service delivery.

The urgency to migrate to cloud-native 5G networks for new revenue opportunities and cost reductions is challenging while addressing complexities across technology, organizational, and business dimensions at the same time.

These challenges require service providers to make transformational investments in automation, tooling, skills, and AI to flourish in the new telecom economy. New advancements in the area of continuous integration, testing, and deployment are at the heart of addressing these challenges.

Essentials for cloud-native deployment

The transformation to cloud-native 5G is rife with complexity, demanding service providers migrate from legacy, vertically-integrated infrastructure to a disaggregated multi-vendor cloud-native network platform, and from organizational silos to automated processes and agile teams.

At Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2023, IBM and Spirent will demonstrate how the companies are collaborating to automate the 5G cloud-native deployment process to ensure software entering the production network environments will work as intended.

The joint solution addresses three cloud-native imperatives:

1. Continuous testing for safe deployment in a cloud native network platform
Continuous lab-to-live network function (NF) release lifecycles need to be swift, yet result in services that are safe to deploy in a production network that is being updated in real time. That means unit testing, integration testing with adjacent and connected components, and finally, end-to-end testing to ensure existing services will not be negatively impacted.

2. Continuous deployment to manage asynchronous releases in a multi-vendor network
It is no longer tenable for a software release to follow a 6 to 12-month waterfall design-test-deployment lifecycle process. In a cloud-native network, xNF releases and infrastructure updates arrive asynchronously from multiple vendors and need to be deployed quickly and continuously.

Managing multi-vendor integration and 10x release cadence

3. Integrated continuous test and deployment to streamline processes
Automated, continuous design, build, test, and deployment workflows (CT/CD) need to work together seamlessly. Automated test suites for conformance, performance, capacity, and security speed the process and enable automated regression testing. Continuous deployment automates the rollout and provides staging and configuration verification followed by network deployment. Together, they accelerate time-to-market for well-tested, resilient releases.

Continuous, automated lifecycle operations

Learn more about the IBM/Spirent solution at MWC

IBM and Spirent will showcase the joint solution at Mobile World Congress 2023 (Feb. 27-Mar. 2, in Barcelona).

Learn how to automate cloud-native operations by visiting us at:

  • Presentation: Conception to Execution: Optimizing the Testing Process, February 28, 14:45 – 15:45; Rakshit Mehta, Business Development Leader, Global Telecom Industry at IBM and Jurrie van den Breekel, VP Strategic Partnerships at Spirent Communications

  • Demonstrations: IBM Stand 2H20, Hall 2

Learn more about Spirent’s 5G test and assurance solutions and IBM’s Cloud Pak for Network Automation (CP4NA).

Jurrie van den Breekel, VP Strategic Partnerships, Spirent Communications contributed to this article.

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Rakshit Mehta

Industry Business Development Leader, Global Telecom Industry at IBM & Member of IBM Industry Academy

Rakshit Mehta is a global industry leader shaping strategies and solutions for the Telecom industry at IBM. In his current role, he is responsible for spearheading IBM's partner ecosystem to accelerate network modernization and digital transformation at communication service providers (CSPs) globally. Mr. Mehta is a member of IBM’s Industry Academy, a vibrant community of IBM's preeminent industry leaders working within and across industry with the end goal of shaping solutions that help clients thrive. Mr. Mehta provides industry leadership to clients, business partners, industry groups, and IBM product and services teams globally. Mr. Mehta has over two decades of experience in the Telcom Industry in various Technical and Business leadership roles. He currently resides in San Jose, CA after taking up global roles in Japan, Singapore, and India.