A Slice of TADSummit: Cloud and Serverless

In this series of weblogs, A Slice of TADSummit, we review some of the important themes from TADSummit EMEA Americas 2020. This slice focuses on Cloud and Serverless.

Thank you to all the presenters and our sponsors: Automat BerlinGoContactRadisys, and Sangoma for making TADSummit possible.

Adventures in Real-Time Communications in the Cloud, Manuel Pombo, GoContact

This is an excellent introduction to the core issues that lead carriers to have a significant legacy burden, and why change is slow with respect to migration to cloud computing and serverless. In Sebastian Schumann’s Serverless opinion, he also covers these points and more.

Manuel gives a masterclass on moving RTC workloads into the cloud. They’ve experienced VMs competing for resources with other customers’ workloads. Which has driven them to bare-metal instances and the use of SR-IOV (Single-Root Input/Output Virtualization).

On the media server side with bare metal they’re able to bind a public IP to a VM, which is not possible in the cloud. However, in FreeSWITCH it can autodetect the IP in use for the VM, which can get around the issue. There’s loads of great insights Manuel shares in getting RTC working in the cloud: security, load balancing, disaster recovery, the hybrid approach they’ve taken, and a peek into RIPP (Realtime Internet Peering Protocol).

I also highlight a white paper written byJoão Camarate Silva, CTO and founder of GoContact, that covers the issues discussed and more, Serverless Telecommunications. As João said in his keynote, GoContact is a communication service provider with its feet firmly on the ground in telco, but its head in the clouds.

Serverless and RTC Panel Discussion, Tim Panton, João Camarate Silva, Simon Woodhead, Jason Berryman, Sebastian Schumann, and Marten Schoenherr. 

At TADSummit EMEA 2019 we had a number of FinTech start-ups presenting and they expressed surprise at the lack of adoption of serverless across the RTC community. Referring to the approaches described by several RTC service providers as “yak-shaving”.

This is a weighty piece of work, but definitive, especially in combination with the other presentations in this ‘slice of TADSummit.’ Each panelist kicked off a quick 5 (or so) min intro to their views on the topic. You can review them in this Serverless Opinions weblog.  It’s a great resource, and well-worth your time. Highlighting a couple of the Q&A.

Q) Does everyone agree with Tim’s view that: the lifecycle of serverless functions is short, max 9 mins. Which is not compatible with the longer sessions of communications?

A) Generally yes. Jason highlighted there are some tools that can extend the lifetime to 15 mins. General consensus was Serverless for production RTC services is not necessarily appropriate. Now you’d think that would be the end of the panel discussion ?

Q) Will some technology companies skip serverless and move to a decentralized event drive stack using HTTP/3 RIPP?

A) The last question was where things got interesting, and the reason we overran. Briefly: because Amazon, Google, Microsoft dominate developer fashion, technology companies have no choice by to adopt serverless, its inevitable. The discussion above shows the focus is for specific workloads, not necessarily the RTC core. The continued progression of abstraction from AGM, where rather than CPaaS APIs or WebRTC SDKs, calling simply becomes a function received much discussion and recognition of its inevitability given development trends. The role of edge compute was a little more contentious, but I think decentralization and edge compute are a reaction to the inevitable abstraction and silo lock-in AGM want to achieve.

While the previous two session focused more generally on RTC and Serverless/Cloud, and provide a good contrast across the approaches and timing. The last two from OVOO and ng-voice are focused specifically on telco migration. Backing up the finding from the previous discussions, while getting into more telco specifics.

Cloud Native Function for 5G success, Grzegorz Sikora, OVOO

OVOO’s focus is the migration of telco apps to cloud native. They bring deep open source expertise.  Jesus Cruz Manjavacas, VAS Development Expert at PLAY mentioned this expertise in his presentation on Programmable Telecoms inside a Telco.

Greg provided an introduction to OVOO and the blueprint they use for cloud native, which he presented last year at TADSummit EMEA 2019. For this session OVOO builds on the CNCF (Cloud Native Computing Foundation) webinar demo, the step by step migration from VNF (Virtual Network Function) to CNF (Cloud Network Function) for a messaging gateway (one of OVOO’s products).

Pawel then runs through a cool continuous deployment demo using Jenkins Pipeline to set up a messaging gateway on a kubernetes cluster, with a GUI to configure the platform, which is connected to an SMPP provider. And then transmits live traffic, sender being TADSummit using the GUI to configure. There’s a load of work under the hood in making the core of a telco run cloud native.  Critically all the cloud native ecosystem tools are available beyond Jenkins covering OAM, metrics, availability, scalability, security, etc. This is excellent progress from last year, well done Greg, Rafal, and Pawel.

The importance of cloud-native core services in a Telco World
Carsten Bock, Managing Director CTO, ng-voice GmbH

Carsten provides and excellent review of the current situation facing telcos and the trend towards cloud. With some useful quantification on the benefits of containerization.

This presentation aligns well with the thought-leadership by Manuel Pombo “Adventures in Real-Time Communications in the Cloud“;  Grzegorz Sikora “Cloud Native Function for 5G success“; and the excellent panel discussion on “Serverless and RTC“.

The two deployment examples Carsten reviews of scaling voice and HSS (Home Subscriber Server) are very interesting. Highlighting the importance of DevOps, the challenges with voice, and making the case for why you need to scale each interface of a HSS independently (micro-services). Which is all backed up by ng-voices extensive IMS core deployment experiences.

Carsten is making the benefits of cloud native we heard from leaders like GoContact and Simwood available to all telcos today.