M-CORD paves way to 5G with open source virtualized EPC

5G (pixabay)

AT&T, Verizon, Google and SK Telecom are among the industry heavyweights throwing their support behind the CORD Project, and specifically, M-CORD.

The CORD Project, which refers to Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center, is an open source endeavor that combines SDN, NFV and elastic cloud services, and it just announced availability of the first open source disaggregated and virtualized Evolved Packet Core (EPC). The project specifically identifies system integrator and CORD partner Radisys as contributing to its EPC framework, a foundation for many EPC products, to M-CORD.

M-CORD is designed to help pave the way for service-driven 5G architecture through capabilities such as programmable Radio Access Network (RAN), disaggregated and virtualized EPC, mobile edge computing and end-to-end slicing from RAN to EPC.

“The open source driven model is a fundamental element for the 5G roadmap as it enables extraordinary agility for identifying and responding to subscribers’ needs far more quickly than traditional mobility standards,” said Joseph Sulistyo, ‎senior director of open networking solutions and strategy at Radisys Corporation, in a press release.

Radisys has been a sustained contributor and prominent integrator of M-CORD since the first demonstration at Open Networking Summit 2016, and “we are thrilled with our continued collaboration with ON.Lab and partners and the extended community to embrace open source and enrich SDN and NFV in M-CORD for optimizing 5G infrastructure,” Sulistyo said.

Asked about the significance of being first with this EPC, Sulistyo told FierceWirelessTech that Radisys’ job is to provide a carrier-grade platform and accelerate service providers’ path to SDN, NFV and the cloud in a pragmatic way that allows operators to save money.

“We acknowledge that being first is only good enough when you can execute,” he said. As part of moving to this new open source, software-driven architecture, big changes are in store. “We understand the business model has changed,” and Radisys wants to make it accessible to customers in a fast manner so they don’t have to wait, he said.

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According to Sulistyo, EPC is a fundamental element in providing high quality, fast and sustainable mobile services.

“To effectively and productively achieve these objectives for less, we need to empower and integrate EPC with these key technologies and architecture – NFV (for virtualization), SDN (for disaggregation), and Cloud (distributed ‘anytime, anywhere’ services and continuous DevOps model),” he said. “Through virtualized EPC approach, wireless operators can reduce capital expenses of delivering mobile services with standard commercial off-the-shelf hardware. Virtualized network infrastructure can also reduce operating expenses due to unified management and orchestration (MANO).”

Radisys is well aware it needs partners in this transformation. “When we do this, we know that we’re not going to be able to do this alone,” and other vendors and organizations will need to help make it become a reality, he said. “This allows us to really partner and incentivize other solution providers out there to come to the table. We cannot achieve this just with us.”

According to the CORD project, Radisys’ EPC has served as a foundation for many EPC solutions currently in use in production networks of service providers around the globe. Designed to be modular for ease-of-use, Radisys’ open source EPC contribution to M-CORD will allow the community to explore and demonstrate innovative architectures that can take advantage of the modularity of EPC.  

The CORD community includes service provider partners AT&T, China Unicom, Google, NTT Communications, SK Telecom and Verizon, as well as vendors Ciena, Cisco, Fujitsu, Intel, NEC, Nokia, Radisys and Samsung, and more than 30 collaborating organizations. CORD is hosted by The Linux Foundation.

“We are very pleased with M-CORD progress towards creating an open platform for LTE and 5G built with merchant silicon, white boxes and open source,” Andre Fuetsch, CTO and president of AT&T Labs, said in the press release. “As we move towards an increasingly open sourced mobile core, we can innovate LTE and 5G solutions faster and create services such as IoT, safety, mobile health and others with improved QoE and agility.”

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“Verizon recognizes M-CORD as an important open platform to help enable future innovative mobile services,” said Srini Kalapala, VP of Technology and Supplier Strategy at Verizon, in the release. “We continue to contribute to M-CORD while working with the larger ecosystem to realize M-CORD’s full potential toward accelerating next generation networks."

And Google is excited to see the community come together and embrace an open platform for innovation with M-CORD, according to Ankur Jain, principal engineer at Google. "This provides a framework on which the community can experiment with building next generation networks that are easier to manage, and where the network layer exchanges information with the application layer, thereby bringing efficiency to both,” he said in the release.