‘Cloud Native’ the key to successful greenfield and brownfield projects


As 5G continues to be the hot topic of the telecommunications industry, the importance of being cloud native has never been more important. Network operators looking for successful 5G rollouts require high levels of integration, easy-to-use architecture, beneficial cost structures and optimized functionality within their deployments. Whether the network is ‘brownfield’ or ‘greenfield’, operators must look to embrace the ongoing cloud native 5G revolution to truly stand out from the competition.

Greenfield vs Brownfield

Traditionally, businesses looking to make strides into different international markets will often make investments and purchases within a targeted country. A ‘brownfield’ investment can be defined as the purchasing or leasing or using of an existing cloud stack, cloud partner or private facility, whereas a ‘greenfield’ investment would lead the company to build brand new solution stack from scratch, ushering in a more useful paradigm.

There are a variety of benefits and drawbacks to both approaches – brownfield developments allow existing programmes to be improved and built upon and is adaptable to established processes and solutions on the market. They do however rely on an understanding of pre-set systems and data and adapting legacy code can often lead to an expensive and timely development process. A greenfield approach gives businesses a chance to create state-of-the-art solutions without the requirement of conforming with pre-existing infrastructure, but this can be a time consuming venture, and a clear vision and approach is required else the project may never get off the ground.

Shaping a cloud native future with Kubernetes

Cloud-native is ushering in new revolution, and with it comes unprecedented flexibility, scalability and automated ease of use. Proper automation is a critical to lowering operating costs, and Kubernetes holds the key for operators to reach their full potential, working in tandem with service assurance across a number of network functions supplied to different vendors. The use of Kubernetes provides immense scale for the core and a lean footprint for the edge: failures are easily detected, and can be automatically resolved without manual intervention.

Kubernetes also allow DevOps teams to facilitate service creation and consumption, offering complete automation with reduced human intervention required. This in turn minimizes the costs of overheads required to manage certain loads within an operation, especially in comparison to previous legacy models. Regarding service upgrades, quick operability is ensured even throughout the release of new software. Outages are few and far between, and Kubernetes provides the option for canary testing and the application of maturity models where needed.

In a cloud native environment, differentiation where it truly matters is allowed for both the vendor and the operator. Operators now have the freedom and autonomy that was previously – and incorrectly – expected from legacy virtualization models. Previous issues surrounding the stitching together of older and newer solutions are avoided through automatic scaling, and as a result, many vendors have already begun to package their applications and functions as cloud native to capitalize on this innovation. This evolution is prevalent within greenfield and brownfield developments.

Driving greenfield and brownfield cloud-native innovation

Brownfield projects run the greatest risk when it comes to keeping up with the latest developments surrounding 5G networks. While the cost of legacy networks such as 4G will have already been recovered through past and present revenues, the maintenance required to keep antiquated mobile network infrastructures running smoothly will become an ever-increasing and unwanted burden for operators. To keep abreast of the latest developments within telecommunications, a cloud-native 5G and 4G/LTE network – underpinned by an innovative Kubernetes solution – can help to modernize and drive up revenue for your operation.

Kubernetes offers providers a unique choice as the cloud-native movement was literally built on its back.  Furthermore, many advanced Kubernetes systems can also run legacy Virtual Machines (VMs), that were previously used for legacy 4G/LTE solutions.  In many cases, Kubernetes will outperform legacy and VM solutions, even when running a service as a native VM.  Furthermore, the newer Kubernetes-based solution can enable resource sharing and operations advantages in the heterogeneous, brownfield, environment.

Adopting a Kubernetes-based solution will not only help operators to rebuild and restart their projects in a short space of time, but also bring in a quick profit and superb service performance.

Kubernetes: The choice is yours

In contrast to brownfield projects, greenfield developments can incorporate Kubernetes-led platforms right from the beginning, enabling operators to develop 5G infrastructures that will continue to be relevant for many decades to come. But when it comes to scaling massive 5G services, how you automate is just as important as what you automate. While Kubernetes is supporting the mass rapid move to the cloud that, it is not a simple cure-all for any repetitive or scale-out task. There is more to making 5G services a success at a scale, than Kubernetes itself.

Automation tools must include more than just network function management for both VMs and containers.  Automation must include complete lifecycle management of bare metal, network services, methods of procedures and physical network functions. A tool with a full observability stack, able to easily assess data and application performance, can trigger these management actions using a policy engine. Embracing brownfield, means embracing a broader part of the solution.

How they are implemented for ease of use, performance, flexibility, scale and how they reduce time to outcome of your services integration and production lifecycles.  All these factors will dictate the success of an operator throughout the lifecycle of its services, because how you automate, not just what you automate, pays dividends over the lifecycle of the service.

By carefully choosing Kubernetes infrastructure, operators can achieve a smooth transition of their bare metal services, to unified VMs and containers. Lifecycle automation, workflows, and the overall operations stack needs to be unified, even when deployed over multiple locations and VM and container environments. Operator’s platform selection will dictate how operations and resource silos are reduced, that will save costs and quicken time to outcome.

The appropriate cloud native platform has the potential to reduce the time needed for scale-out tasks from weeks to minutes, while reducing OpEx costs by 40%, and CapEx savings by 50%. Interoperability across a vibrant vendor ecosystem ensures that chosen Kubernetes infrastructure will work with all kinds of applications and services, preventing roadblocks in the cloudification process.

Providing the path to optimal performance

Whether your project is brownfield or greenfield, what is clear is that the nature of telecommunication services has fundamentally changed. Operators must now consider whether they wish to offer the best service to their customers, shoehorning in new features to with their legacy solution, or evolve to stand out as an industry-leader or remain on the backfoot by using up dwindling revenue from an older model. Change is inevitable, not just for the hyper scalers but for anyone attempting to operate in an increasingly competitive space.  The benefits of the right automated Kubernetes solution remain the most crucial consideration, and operators should look to implement this technology into their processes sooner rather than later.