Microsoft announced general availability of Azure Operator Nexus, a carrier-grade and hybrid platform that enables telecom operators to use cloud technology to modernize and monetize their network investments.
AT&T has been working with Microsoft on Azure Operator Nexus has begun deploying Network Function workloads in its labs, with the intent to deploy them into production environments.
Microsoft previewed the platform earlier this year at Mobile World Congress. New capabilities added since then include:
* Network Fabric Automation—enables operators to build, operate, and manage carrier-grade network fabric from Azure. It performs several functions like bootstrapping and configuration, application of network policies, lifecycle management, creation of tenant workload network, and providing observability of the network devices. Network Fabric Automation provides a single point of control and visibility across the entire network fabric for the Operator Nexus platform and host tenant workloads.
Network Packet Broker—allows operators to efficiently capture, aggregate, filter, and monitor traffic. It enables operators to monitor large complex networks and provide network-level visibility to aid with service planning and troubleshooting of service problems. It also plays a vital role in enhancing troubleshooting capabilities, meeting regulatory requirements, and enabling organizations to maintain the optimal performance and security of their networks.
Enhanced Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)—for on-premises use. Operator Nexus contains specific extensions to optimize the automated creation of containers to host tenant network function workloads. This new extension improves resilience and the availability of the cluster; it also enables operators to isolate and manage the performance of specific workloads.
Azure Lockbox—provides operators with an additional layer of operational control over access to their data stored in the Azure cloud platform. This feature allows operators to approve or deny access to their data by Microsoft support engineers who may require access for troubleshooting or maintenance purposes. In those rare circumstances where such access is required, Azure Lockbox provides an interface for customers to review and approve or reject customer data access requests.
Placement control of network functions—this feature gives more control to the operators on workloads deployment placement within a cluster. The operators can use this feature for improved performance, efficiency, and resiliency of the workloads.
For observability, Operator Nexus has native integration with Azure Monitor—operators can send data to either Azure Operator Insights, Log Analytics Workspace (LAW), or Azure Data Explorer (ADX) cluster. Log Analytics Workspace offers a wide range of built-in capabilities, including log analytics, visualization, alerting, and more. Alternatively, operators can view the logging data using ADX cluster, which provides a low-cost alternative to LAW. If the main purpose is to retain the observability data for Retention and Information Management (RIM) compliance, operators can choose to send the data to a storage account.
As part of the Azure AIOPs offers, Azure Operator Service Manager (AOSM)—transforms the operator service management experience into a modern cloud service. It simplifies the management of complex, multi-part, multi-vendor service deployments across thousands of hybrid cloud sites, including Azure regions, edge platforms, and Azure Arc-connected infrastructure. AOSM offers benefits like a single management experience for Microsoft and third-party network functions, automation enriched with Azure’s industry-leading cognitive services, and strict software distribution security enforcement, ensuring that what is published is what gets deployed.
“Operator Nexus GA is an important milestone in our journey with Microsoft and ecosystem collaborators on Telco Grade cloud for Mobility 5G Core. We are excited to see our vision of Telco grade cloud powered by Microsoft Azure and AI technologies deployed in AT&T data centers and operated by AT&T. This will help deliver simplified operations, lower total cost of ownership, and improved time to market so we can continue to forge ahead with building the world’s best 5G service,” stated Igal Elbaz, Senior Vice President, Network CTO, AT&T.