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November 25, 2019

Canonical Aims for a Bigger Bite of the Telco Pie, with New Charmed OSM Distribution

Release emphasises OSM’s momentum in the telco industry.

By CBR Staff Writer

Canonical has rolled out a new upstream software distribution dubbed Charmed OSM – a set of open source tools pitched squarely at telcos aiming to shift from legacy networking services to cloud-native network functions.

OSM (“open source MANO”) is – with our apologies for the alphabet soup – an implementation of standards organisation ETSI‘s network functions virtualisation (NFV) management and orchestration (MANO) stack.

Charmed OSM is Canonical’s distribution of the open source software stack OSM, which is increasingly becoming an industry standard. The company will also be offering a managed service, to help support deployment.

OSM is essentially a set of tools to help telcos modernise their network functions orchestration across hybrid environments, as they shift from an environment of network functions running on specialist dedicated hardware, to one in which virtualisation has rendered physical functions as software – which can be run as virtual machines (VMs) over general-purpose servers instead.

(It includes Canonical’s MicroK8s and MicroStack).

Read this: Canonical Founder Mark Shuttleworth on Taking Canonical Public, Legacy IT and Ubuntu, and his Botanical Garden

Canonical hopes to monetise the offering by offering a managed service option for Charmed OSM, that lets telcos transfer the operational risk and allow Canonical to operate their OSM cluster for them.

Even simply running the open source iteration themselves, using Charmed OSM they can reduce deployment times of complex OSM clusters from “weeks to hours” in an automated process that makes use of Juju, the service orchestration/application modelling tool, and Juju charms, Canonical claims.

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(Juju charms are collections of scripts and metadata which contain “all necessary logic required” to install, configure and connect applications.)

“Charms can also significantly simplify daily operational tasks such as upgrades or scale-out the cluster on demand, while native cooperation with other Charmed applications such as Charmed Kubernetes decreases complexity, thereby reducing operational costs” Canonical’s Sarah Dickinson said.

“To ensure cluster resiliency and maximise uptime, Charmed OSM can be deployed in an HA mode allowing telcos to meet their availability goal.”

The company rolled out engineering giant Altran as a customer, with Altran NFV Solution Director Ramon Armada saying in a blog November 20: “The introduction of Charmed OSM into the market emphasises OSM’s momentum in the telco industry. Charmed OSM, deployed with Juju, fully automates the installation process and drastically simplifies ongoing OSM operations.

He added: “Altran, an OSM contributor and system integrator, is excited to work with Canonical to drive the adoption  of OSM across tier 1 CSPs globally.”

There remains significant opportunity for modernisation in the telco sector digitalisation. The context is set nicely by a Bell Labs whitepaper, which notes, “much of the telecom industry — especially in hyper-competitive markets like Europe — finds itself in a tightening corner. The industry that enabled the web revolution is now at risk of being marginalized to the role of mere access provider, as nimble OTT, web-scale companies and cloud service providers innovate more quickly.”

The rise of virtualisation, programmability and network automation, enabled by these new technologies, will drive down industry operating costs considerably, most hope.

Charmed OSM: Canonical Promises 24/7 Support, Predictable Release Cycle 

Canonical said: “Charmed OSM is a pure upstream OSM distribution. Telcos are assured of a predictable release cadence and upgrade path as Charmed OSM will be released within two weeks of the upstream, enabling them to benefit from the latest features. Charmed OSM is supported under Ubuntu Advantage to provide critical security patches, 24/7 support and production-grade SLAs for maximum uptime and stability.

“OSM allows TSPs to move from traditional, legacy networking services to cloud-native network functions and benefit from reduced CAPEX and OPEX, and DevOps agility,” said Tytus Kurek, Product Manager for Charmed OSM at Canonical. “However, telcos need an OSM distribution that is stable, secure, supported and easy to operate. Charmed OSM brings all of that together, enabling a smooth transition and painless adoption.”

Telcos will need a workstation running the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Operating System, with a minimum of 16 GB of RAM, 4 CPUs and 50 GB of free storage space to get started.

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