Success of a Proof of Concept (PoC) programmable network slicing technology for 5G networks on its M-CORD reference platform has been announced by Argela. The first operational rack outside ON.Lab is Argela’s M-CORD.
Argela’s 5G slicing technology PoC enables the virtual partitioning of both the Radio Access Network (RAN) and the Core Network (CN) components of the cellular network as well as orchestration of end-to-end slicing, effectively enabling Network-As-A-Service for different use and business cases.
The RAN slicing technology in the PoC is Argela’s ProgRAN architecture, which decouples the data and control planes in the RAN, and allows operators to dynamically create, modify or terminate virtual base stations on existing base station hardware.
Each virtual base station governs a non-overlapping portion of the wireless resources using its own, use case optimised control functionalities. The ProgRAN architecture also allows for vRAN implementations where the base stations are disaggregated into Central and Remote Units (CUs & RUs) and some of their functionalities are virtualised and moved to a data centre as CUs. The CUs are pooled by the RUs as needed.
Argela’s CN slicing technology on the other hand, allows for a programmatically modular disaggregation of the CN components for each slice, virtualisation of these components and implementing them using VMs on generic servers at a data centre. The technology is capable of providing the most suitable resources and network topology to different types of use and business cases. Orchestration of CN slicing allows for the sharing of some of these components across multiple slices.
The PoC successfully demonstrates how RAN slices can be dynamically mapped to CN slices in real-time to orchestrate end-to-end network slicing. The PoC shows how network slices could be orchestrated dynamically in order to meet specific service or business requirements.
The orchestrator in the PoC is flexible and may map multiple RAN slices to the same CN slice. The PoC also successfully demonstrates inter-slice handovers.
5G networks need to provide support for a wide range of use and business cases, potentially each with vastly different service requirements commented Bülent Kaytaz, CEO of Argela: “It is crucial to develop 5G to appear as a ‘single system’ that can meet these diverse requirements and also ensure that the network remains profitable for the operator. A use case optimised approach is needed for 5G, requiring a highly adaptable, virtualisable and dynamically programmable network.”
Kaytaz continued: “At Argela, we envision a 5G network where network slices are created and service specific optimisations are invoked for them programmatically. The slices will potentially provide individually optimised network configurations for all active use cases. In addition, they will provide a new dimension for operators to innovate revenue generating services.”
“We have been an active and critical contributor at ON.Lab to Mobile CORD (M-CORD), an initiative that is actively developing an open service delivery platform designed to provide data centre economies and cloud agility to mobile service providers using the pillars of Software-Defined Networking (SDN), Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) and cloud networking.” said Oguz Sunay CTO of Argela-USA.
Continuing, Sunay added that the company has successfully realised the first M-CORD rack outside ON.Lab at the Sunnyvale office. “We have incorporated our ProgRAN platform to M-CORD on Cavium’s OCTEON Fusion-M and ThunderX. We have partnered with Quortus to virtualise and incorporate their EPC into M-CORD. Building on M-CORD’s open source ONOS controller and XOS orchestrator we have successfully demonstrated our programmable, RAN-triggered, end-to-end network slicing capability.”
Sunay concluded: “Programmable network slicing, based on virtual EPC and vRAN, is an important part of the technology evolution of 5G. It empowers mobile operators with the necessary tools for rapid innovation of new set of services. At Argela, we are excited to play a part in bringing 5G to life.”