Ericsson and Google Cloud have further expanded their partnership with the former offering its Cloud RAN (radio access network) solution on the latter’s distributed cloud – and an additional benefit for operations improving their AI and automation capabilities.
Google Distributed Cloud (GDC) enables the opportunity to extend Google Cloud’s infrastructure and services to the edge, while Google Distributed Cloud Edge (GDC Edge) is a fully managed offering which enables CSPs to run 5G core and RAN functions at the edge.
In this instance, the on-premises GDC Edge is managed through a dedicated secure connection between on-prem hardware and the cloud, ensuring ‘the clear path for CSPs toward the implementation of a fully hybrid cloud solution for RAN’. Among the use cases available to CSPs running Ericsson Cloud RAN on GDC Edge include utilising Vertex AI, Google Cloud’s unified machine learning platform, BigQuery, and other cloud services, to improve the usability of massive data sets being provided by cloud RAN applications.
The two companies have already demonstrated the full implementation of Ericsson’s virtual distributed unit (vDU) and virtualised central unit (vCU) on GDC Edge, with the solution live in the Ericsson Open Lab in Ottawa. There is ‘joint ambition for market development’, as Ericsson put it.
From an operator standpoint, the move towards cloud-based and cloud-native architectures has become inevitable for advancing security, scalability, and wider digital transformation initiatives. The increasing prevalence of open source software in networking environments has fuelled innovation in the RAN space, with the market opportunity for cloud-native open RAN – in which operators can mix suppliers – opening up across the stack, from 5G to the network edge.
Yet in spite of this, the cloudy forecast has not been as substantial as originally thought. Last month analyst Dell’Oro Group reduced its forecast on 5G workloads moving to the public cloud, projecting that hyperscale cloud providers will capture 9% of 5G standalone (5G SA) workloads by 2027.
Offerings such as Ericsson Cloud RAN on Google Distributed Cloud therefore aim to hit a sweet spot for operators who want the benefits of cloud but retaining control of their own data centres.
Ericsson’s Cloud RAN is not technically open RAN, and while the company is an ‘active participant’ in the O-RAN Alliance there is a school of thought that open RAN could be a serious threat to traditional vendors’ networks businesses. Fredrik Jejdling, EVP and head of business area networks at Ericsson, told Light Reading earlier this year that the company’s stance on open RAN was a ‘big, complex question.’
Yet the company is making the right noises on this. Cloud RAN is described as infrastructure agnostic, allowing RAN applications to be deployed on any infrastructure chosen by the CSP. Ericsson said it was ‘continuously collaborating with ecosystem partners and adapting its Cloud RAN applications to work on different infrastructures and configurations.’
“This partnership enables us to deepen and expand our valuable collaboration with Google Cloud, and it opens new opportunities for operators to utilise the benefits of cloud-native solutions and automation,” said Mårten Lerner, head of product line Cloud RAN at Ericsson.
“Ericsson remains committed to ensuring the adaptability of its Cloud RAN applications on diverse cloud infrastructures, offering operators enhanced flexibility and choice in deploying Cloud RAN as well as supporting the evolving hybrid cloud architectures together with Google Cloud.”
You can read the full release here.
Update September 26: Ericsson has since made further moves with regard to open RAN by publishing a release which ‘underlines its commitment to lead the industrialisation of open RAN and bring the benefits of cloud-based open network architecture to the industry.’ “Ericsson believes that future networks need to be increasingly resilient, open, sustainable, and intelligent,” the company said in a statement. “Open RAN plays an important role in achieving this vision, and Ericsson is leading the industrialisation of the three pillars of open RAN: cloudification, open fronthaul and open management for network programmability.”
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