Robin.io taps demand for container-based orchestration layer

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Robin.io thinks of the core, RAN and edge as "applications" that can be managed by container-based software. (Pixabay)

Robin.io has set its sights on the mobile industry to provide a containerized orchestration layer for their 5G networks.

Earlier this month, Robin.io announced a deal to enable Rakuten Mobile’s end-to-end cloud-native 5G network. 

“We are thrilled to leverage Robin’s application automation capabilities that advance Rakuten’s plan to deploy an end-to-end cloud-native wireless service,” said Rakuten Mobile’s CTO Tareq Amin, in a statement.

For its 4G network, Rakuten operates one horizontal cloud layer above its macro cell sites, edge data centers and central data centers. That cloud runs on Red Hat’s OpenStack virtual machine platform with contributions from Cisco. But for its 5G network, Rakuten Mobile plans to use containers, rather than virtual machines, making its 5G network “cloud native.”

RELATED: Rakuten’s 5G network will be built with containers

Robin.io is a six-year-old company based in Silicon Valley in the United States.

Fernando Cerioni, VP of product management with Robin.io, said, “Telco and IT are fusing with each other. If you look at vendors for 5G, their applications — Core, RAN and even transport — that software is being delivered to operators in a format that is based on Kubernetes and containers.”

Kubernetes is a container management system first invented by Google. It's now managed by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

In the past, the technology that ran core networks and radio access networks (RAN) was proprietary, very specialized technology that was supplied by a few large vendors. But these days, core and RAN technologies can be offered as software that runs on commodity hardware. Cerioni tends to refer to these technologies as “apps.”

He said 5G core or 5G RAN applications can either be run on-premises or they can be run on a public cloud such as AWS. Robin.io provides the virtualization layer for these apps.

“Our solution goes beyond the virtualization layer to full automation,” said Cerioni. “We’re running over 40 applications that are fully virtualized at Rakuten.”

David Reeder, VP of service provider sales with Robin.io, said one of the big drivers for container-based automation is to reduce operating expenses. He said the technology uses 30% less compute resources.

Private wireless

Robin.io is also bringing its network automation platform to the private wireless arena. It’s working with the European private wireless company Quortus to offer joint solutions.

RELATED: 25 Utah schools to deploy private LTE using CBRS

Using available spectrum in multiple countries, the companies will offer private LTE and private 5G cloud-native mobile core networks.

“The partnership between Quortus and Robin will enable the companies to offer a powerful cloud-native mobile core network that is fully automated, lightweight and ready to deploy in days, not weeks,” said Robin.io CEO Partha Seetala, in a statement.