Anyone checking out Vodafone’s small “golden cluster” of open radio access network (RAN) sites in the UK will note the involvement of two critical software companies. Besides contributing electronics, South Korea’s Samsung stumps up the RAN code that processes signals, deals with interference and points radios at gadgets. Propping all that up is a software management platform built by Wind River.
It is one of several mainly US companies trading in virtualization and cloud-native technology. The basic idea is to separate network or IT software from its underlying customized hardware and then run the whole shebang on the same general-purpose equipment with the same management tools. Wind River, Red Hat, VMware and a few lesser-known firms offer all this on a subscription, “as a service” basis. Increasingly, they are being labeled containers-as-a-service (CaaS) providers, where containers are the micro software elements that can be combined to form a cloud-native application.
Confused yet? The important thing to note is that it’s a fairly big outsourcing of tech responsibility at a time when operators fear the balance of power tilting further toward their suppliers. What’s more, the smallish CaaS companies are themselves under threat from much bigger beasts. AWS, Google