Enabling 5G Innovation with Kubernetes


Spotlight on 5G Innovations |

At a time when telecom operators and CSPs are looking forward to embracing cloud-native innovations – is driving Kubernetes platforms and multi-cloud automation that focuses on reducing the time to outcome of the numerous tasks needed to integrate, test and operate cloud-native 5G services.

Brooke Frischemeier, Sr Director of Product Management at
Robin speaks with Zia Askari from about the company’s present strategy and its future plans.

How has been the journey for so far and how do you look at the near-term future?

Having worked with many enterprises that pioneered the cloud-native journey, Robin realised that many telecom operators, with entrenched legacy infrastructures, were ready to modernize and capitalize on the benefits of Kubernetes and next generation orchestration platforms.

Since then, Robin has brought forward the industry’s first telecom operator to deliver a 100% cloud-native architecture, deploying 5G and edge services. Robin runs the entire 5G stack, Open RAN, Core and MEC for that telco, along with many 4G functions, all on containers. As a result, Robin is the first and only cloud-native platform running live, production grade, end to end 5G. Being the first, Robin created an exciting opportunity for telcos, enabling them to press fast forward deploying 5G services, creating new revenue opportunities for 5G services.

What are the key priorities for today? How is cloud-native enabling 5G applications?

To enable these solutions, Robin builds Kubernetes platforms and multi-cloud automation that focuses on reducing the time to outcome of the numerous tasks needed to integrate, test and operate cloud-native 5G services. In the 5G space, Robin is focused on Open RAN, 5G Core and MECdelivery, enabling edge and 5G deployments for operator, industrial and enterprise uses. In the 5G enterprise market we are expanding our capability and support for cloud deployments and see an opportunity for us to work more closely with network function partners, with their cutting-edge private 4G and 5G network solutions for the enterprise, industry, education and government sectors.

5G deployments are complex. How do you look at this as an opportunity?

As the industry moves to the next phases of the 5G rollout, operators face the need to deliver a greater number of new services, with increased speed, lower latency and strict Quality of Service (QoS), over more endpoints than ever before.  As operators embark on this transition, there are a number of challenges they need to overcome:

  • The transition to a Kubernetes infrastructure – harmonizing VMs and containers
  • Unifying lifecycle automation, workflows and the overall operations stack, from bare metal to services
  • Unifying technologies, deployment models over multiple locations and environments
  • Reducing operations and resource silos
  • Service performance-tuning on Consumer Off the Shelf (COTS) hardware
  • Protocol and API interoperability across a vibrant vendor ecosystem integration
  • Deployment at scale with reduced time to outcome

When moving from the test lab to deployment and massive scale-out of 5G services, it soon becomes evident that how you automate is just as important as what you automate in order to achieve operations milestones.  At Robin we consider how customers automate, how we reduce complexity, how we reduce time to outcome and how we dovetail into our customers’ embedded base in a way that improves user experience.

What is the technology behind making 5G a reality?

Many operators are looking at containerization and Kubernetes to help reduce operations and CapEx costs. However, basic Kubernetes lacks key capabilities in terms of networking, stateful workload support and orchestration to really help them realise the full potential of the technology. One of Robin’s key innovations we developed and automated a Kubernetes platform that supports VNFs and CNFs on a common infrastructure with networking services needed to support the entire telco stack, supporting both stateless and stateful workflows. Robin has also created a multi-cloud orchestrator that reduces deployment time by 80% and can automate bare metal to services and appliances from base stations to the edge and core networks.  This is not our claim, but a customer proven time to outcome calculation.

What current set of customers do you have and what are your growth plans?

With a tier-1 MNO, we have been driven to further our lead as automation and Kubernetes platform innovators, by delivering a massive in production 5G network. This has given us a big lead over any other platform, because we are doing it today, we are living it and finding new ways to improve both the operator’s and the end customer’s experience, while rapidly deploying new services.

AI-driven lifecycle automation spanning multiple operational domains, not in just Kubernetes but from bare metal to services, is a key focus of our future.  We are always working on ways to improve service performance, flexibility and further decrease time to outcome, across integration, test deployment and lifecycle management, reducing the operator’s OpEx and CapEx making their services even more economically viable, deploying new and innovative services at massive scale. We continue to find ways to automate even more operations, reducing the total number of tasks needed for lifecycle management, adding more and more features for automated workload placement and redefining service onboarding and integration tools.