The World According to… Red Hat

By Harry Menear
Leading technologists at US software firm Red Hat share their expectations for the telecom sector in 2021...

Every month, we approach one of the companies we know and trust, and ask their experts, thought leaders and executives what the future has in store. This month, we hear from the folks at Red Hat, IBM's software subsidiary and an indisputable leader in the digital space, about the telecommunications sector trends that are at the front of their minds.

Jered Floyd, member of technical staff, Office of the CTO on… IoT 

We expect to see edge computing drive further adoption of IoT use cases, which will accelerate standardisation of operating system and application components, and through this make significant improvements in performance, monitoring, and reliability of IoT solutions.

The integration model will evolve away from toolchains that let an integrator build a fully custom platform for which they then must manage long-term maintenance, security vulnerability mitigation, update management, application lifecycle and more. Instead, powerful and standardised ARM64 boards will enable deployment of standard platforms that seamlessly work with data centre and cloud infrastructure. 

We can look forward to IoT device edge development maturing to the level of operations that is used for business-critical solutions today, and will integrate unified applications from the core to the cloud and out to the edge. 

Susan James, head of telecommunications strategy on… Cloud 

We have seen COVID-19 have a huge impact on our technology consumption. The need for scalability and flexibility to manage the changing demands on telecommunications infrastructure will continue to drive investments and initiatives throughout 2021. 

We can expect the mass migration of workloads to the public cloud to continue. Lines between public cloud and on premise will become more blurred as new models of managed offerings come into play. 

Automation and AI will continue to be in focus as a way to optimise the management and buildout of networks, helping improve resilience, reliability, security, performance and user experience, and reducing costs.    

We’ll see expanding 5G trials in exciting areas such as industry 4.0, smart cities and smart buildings, and private 5G is gaining momentum to support these. 

Crucially, the gamut of ecosystem players needs to continue to collaborate more openly, forming symbiotic relationships to address these opportunities. 

Our reliance on digital interactions is here to stay and this increases the imperative to secure quality connectivity for all.

Rimma Iontel, chief architect, Telecommunications on… Open RAN

Recent discussion has been growing about open RAN in the industry, centering around what Open RAN means, what is being done, and how organisations can participate. 

In 2021, we will continue to see Open RAN and open source projects forming the future foundation of the industry. To drive the Open RAN segment, we will see increasing adoption of GitOps methodology as a way of implementing continuous deployment and operation for cloud-native applications to enable RAN to be provisioned and managed at scale. Open RAN is here to stay and we need to actively work together – new players and existing radio vendors alike – towards conforming to existing open RAN interface definitions. 

Moreover, we need to collaborate to create more detailed specifications that can be implemented to enable full interoperability, all the way down to the fronthaul interface. This is part of the bigger picture of the industry needing to go all-in on cloudification, removing the reliance on dedicated appliances, so that the full operational and deployment model from the core to the edge of the network is software-based, enabling agility and innovation at scale.

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