Rakuten and Juniper Discuss the Management of O-RAN Platforms | Juniper Global Summit 2022
How Rakuten became a worldwide leader in Open RAN
The deployment of 5G networks has led to the emergence of Open RAN (O-RAN) architecture, which desegregates the vertically integrated systems for ram into multiple components interconnected by interoperable interfaces. This has huge advantages for service providers because it creates a thriving open ecosystem of application providers that can provide agility, automation, and AI-based experiences for customers and operations.
Juniper is helping make the O-RAN ecosystem successful by providing our own open, interoperable competence, while Japan’s Rakuten Mobile has been a pioneer in bringing open architecture to the market.
In this video from the Juniper Global Summit 2022, watch as Juniper’s Raj Yavatkar talks to Rakuten’s Sushil Rawat about his company’s vision for O-RAN and plans for achieving it.
“For me,” said Yavatkar, “O-RAN and Rakuten go together because you are leading the entire world by actually showing the proof points and success of O-RAN.”
How Rakuten overcame challenges to make O-RAN work successfully and how other operators can do the same
The ways Rakuten is partnering with Juniper to achieve its vision for O-RAN
The role of RIC and SMO in the Rakuten vision, according to Sushil, and the next steps in the O-RAN and Rakuten journey
Who is this for?
0:07 Hello, I'm Raj Yavatkar, Chief Technology Officer at Juniper Networks. With the 5G
0:14 deployments, one of the new developments is the emergence of Open RAN, ORAN architecture
0:21 that desegregates the vertically integrated systems for ORAN into multiple components,
0:28 such as RU, DU, CU, SMO and so on, which are interconnected by interoperable interfaces. So,
0:36 we can integrate them together into a complete solution. That has huge advantages for the service
0:41 providers, because first of all, it creates a thriving open ecosystem of application providers,
0:46 which can provide agility, automation, AI, ML based experiences for service provider customers,
0:53 and service provider operations. At Juniper, we are committed to making the ORAN ecosystem
0:58 successful and are contributing to that by providing our own open interoperable components.
1:06 So, today's my pleasure to introduce and welcome Sushil Rawat, who manages the
1:12 ran platform at Rakuten. So Sushil, thank you for joining me. Good to see you again.
1:18 Thank you, Raj. Thanks for inviting me for the conversation today.
1:22 So, one of the things, as I said, you are doing Sushil at Rakuten, is that you are truly a pioneer
1:28 and ground doing some groundbreaking work in terms of bringing Open RAN architecture to the
1:33 market. Can you tell me a little bit about your vision for ORAN and how do you plan to achieve it?
1:41 We have, we have done a lot of work on ORAN deployment in Japan. And when,
1:48 whenever there is a new technology introduction, it is always, you know who is going to deliver it,
1:55 how is it going work? So ,operator have all these natural questions, how the, how the technologies
2:01 goes to market, right? ORAN has been around. A lot of standards has been done for quite
2:06 some time. Now, you know, I would say a, a, a decent amount of work has gone into it, but to,
2:13 for a technology to be available, to operate, it has to come together as a complete solution.
2:19 And that is what we have been doing. That is what we have been trying to master over the
2:24 period of few, you know, last few years where we are doing, we are doing this deployment in Japan,
2:29 to basically take this technology, harden, it, deploy it, make it mature enough for for
2:36 other operators to, to go and adopt. And I think we have, we have been
2:41 successful in doing that, so far. We have, we have deployed a, a large amount of sites
2:46 using over technology on 4G and 5G, running commercial network and showing performance,
2:52 which are equal or better than the traditional offering that we have in the market today.
2:58 So, we we definitely see that ORAN is now mature enough for, for most of the operators to adopt.
3:06 And we are also seeing that traction coming from the market, a lot of Brownfield operators and,
3:11 and Greenfield operators are welcoming and adopting ORAN as a technology.
3:17 So, I think you said it well that there are certain challenges in making ORAN happen that
3:23 you simply have overcome. So, one example of such a challenge, I like to point out
3:28 is that if you take a distribution unit, make it a ODU and want to run it on a general purpose,
3:33 X 86 hardware, it's easier said than done, right? There are lots of challenges with
3:38 respect to orchestration, life cycle management. So can you say a little bit about how you are
3:44 able to achieve that? And the second part of my question would be, how do you plan to show other
3:50 operators the way to, towards achieving that? Yes. So, I think that is a very genuine concern
3:58 and you know, a very confusing questions to be honest, you know, because
4:05 at the same time ORAN promises that standard off the shelf hardware can be used,
4:10 which a lot of operator appreciate and want to do. And at the same time from, for some reason,
4:16 it is being questioned that, you know, X86 off the shelf, hardware is not as efficient as,
4:21 as it should be for ran kind of a use case where there's lots of thousands of sites being deployed.
4:26 And there are concern, you know, pertaining to OPEX and CapEx of, of such hardware’s
4:32 which, which are genuine concern to an extent. What we have done is we have, we have pushed the
4:37 envelope of deploying video on such hardware. So a simple metrics of, of efficiency is,
4:45 you know, cost versus what we deliver, right? So, number of sites deployed over X86
4:53 hardware versus number of sites delivered over a traditional hardware. That is one aspect of simple
4:59 KPEX measurement. And the second aspect is how do we manage the manageability of open hardware,
5:05 become a little bit more complicated because there is no one party which manages it now. So,
5:10 what we have done is we have integrated not just the RAN piece on our X86 platform. What we have
5:16 done is we have also worked on cloud architecture, which does provide a strong and scalable
5:22 manageability of our standard hardware and combination of these two technologies, which is
5:28 I mean, specifically cloud is, is very well proven and widely used all over the IT technologies,
5:34 right? Our it industry now taking that mature technology and making it together
5:39 bringing it together into ORAN as a technology and use that for life cycle management. So two aspect,
5:45 basically one is cost versus performance. And second is manageability. Both these aspects
5:52 have been addressed and we have been successful in addressing that in Japan. And now we are trying to
5:57 expand it and, and, you know, let others be benefited out of it.
6:02 So to get others to adopt this particular architecture, as well as what solution or
6:09 platform you are building, you also need to have a very thriving open ecosystem.
6:15 So what is your vision for that? How do you make such a open ecosystem happen?
6:21 So, one major aspect for bringing a ecosystem together is the conflict of interest. You know
6:27 a lot of traditional vendors have end-to-end offering, or at least acquired this end to end
6:33 offering over the period of time, which kind of restrict them to work with third parties,
6:38 which are probably specialized and provide more benefits onto certain areas. Take an example of
6:43 Juniper, for that matter, right? You, you have a strong capability in IP and, and front hall and,
6:49 you know, overall cloud-native routing stack some other companies which have end-to-end stack may
6:56 have a conflict of interest there. However, we, as, as symphony, as Rakuten and are basically
7:03 providing a platform where companies can come together, our ecosystem partners can come together
7:09 and we offer services together. We are specialized. We have specialized ourself into
7:14 RAN domain including hardware and software. Also, we have a comprehensive offering of
7:21 automation tools, you know, which, which integrates into a marketplace.
7:26 And then we are working with suppliers like Juniper and others, two IP domain. And also
7:32 are you become a very significant challenge for ORAN because multiple bands, right? So we
7:38 are enabling that ecosystem by co-investing. Other operators are, are becoming together and investing
7:44 into developing those radios. So, we do see ORAN ecosystem getting mature rapidly in last few
7:52 years. This was not the growth for last five, six years, but in last one or two years, the ecosystem
7:57 has been growing significantly and we see it getting even more mature in couple of more years.
8:03 So, I think first of all, I want to thank you and Rakuten for
8:07 including us in your innovation ecosystem. Can you say a little bit more about our partnership, how
8:13 Juniper is trying to help you in your endeavor? Yeah, so it was an interesting partnership, right?
8:20 So this is, this is a work that that was one of the motivating factor for a lot of operators,
8:28 right? Why does operator want to have a open hardware is basically to utilize that hardware
8:34 more and more, if it has capacity available, otherwise traditional hardware does the job,
8:39 but the purpose of bringing a open hardware is to basically integrate with a open software. And we,
8:44 this was always the vision for, for Open RAN. And we were probably, you know, it just happened that
8:51 we were probably the first mover in this case also where we took a hardware and we said, okay,
8:56 we have certain resources computer resource available, right? Why do we put a, a separate
9:01 hardware there to do just the routing walk? And we reached out to Juniper. This was you know,
9:07 they came back very positively to the idea. See it's not easy for, for a hardware company or
9:12 a company that sell integrated hardware software to come up with the idea where you give away your
9:16 hardware. So, I would say thanks to Juniper for that perspective, you know, at least you came up
9:22 with that open mindset to integrate your software onto our or X86 hardware, right? We, we did a lot
9:28 of brainstorming you, you know, further optimized and, and make it more efficient to work on
9:34 minimum number of resources to be utilized. Right. And, you know, we had a very hard time
9:39 working together on those aspects, but today it's a perfect example where a standard hardware can
9:45 be used for two different software stack, which generally never seen coming from same
9:50 hardware. Right. You never see this happening in a traditional system where the basement hardware
9:55 is used for a routing tag also. So this is a, this is a excellent partnership that we have.
10:00 And not just to, just to say it, as I said, you know, you came with a very open mindset where you
10:07 give away your hardware and you want to integrate software only. And we are seeing a lot of you
10:11 know, efficiencies of this collaboration. And I think we'll do more in future in this regard.
10:19 Oh, thank you. Thank you for that. I think, you know, under the topic close to my heart
10:24 is RIC and SMO and our apps that application ecosystem that can be built on top of the RIC.
10:31 do you see the role of in the same on application ecosystem in the vision and the deployments?
10:39 Yeah, so SMO is definitely since we, as I said, the first, first question itself, right? So
10:47 orchestration is, is integral part of doing Open RAN, right? If you want do cloud native, if you
10:51 want to use make, make it more efficient, make it scalable. Then you have to use technologies
10:56 which are more cloud native, and which, which has been showing results. Right? So,
11:01 so more definitely there is no question about usability and, and efficiency that it brings.
11:05 It's, it's just an integral part of the whole network. Now, RIC, RIC is basically a platform
11:12 which, which today a lot of operators and a lot of vendors want to do, right. Efficiencies will
11:19 basically come from the applications right now, this, this ecosystem of application
11:25 has been worked out. There are, there are typical players who do sound application. They are also
11:31 proving their application onto a RIC platform. So, this opens up a new generation of development
11:38 onto RIC platform because it allows different industries to come together and bring in their
11:44 expertise. So, I think this is definitely a founding stone for, for next evolution
11:51 of technology in, in Open RAN, which opens our platform to, to smaller, specific skill set,
11:58 to yield benefit. Otherwise nobody will ever imagine that a smaller company coming with a very
12:03 small software stack can show any efficiencies into RAN network because that's a closed box.
12:09 Now, since it's open, there is a platform where such efficiencies can be plugged in.
12:13 It will directly start showing result in terms of performance and, and,
12:18 you know, expenditure savings to the operators. So I think RIC is definitely a, a founding stone for
12:24 next leap of innovation on Open RAN. And at Juniper, we hope with our RIC
12:29 platform, we can cooperate with you and collaborate with you to make that happen.
12:34 For me, the ORAN and Rakuten go together because you are leading the
12:38 entire world by actually showing the proof points and success of ORAN. So,
12:44 one last question for you is what is the, what is the next step for both Rakuten and ORAN?
12:51 So, as, as as you rightly said, we, we we have been working on it. So one important aspect of
12:59 doing mobile is now a lot of operators have more trust and, and have started to see that Open RAN
13:08 is no less efficient technology, or just a, just a research work. It is a, it is a technology, which
13:15 is, which is performing. We have a, a commercial network where commercial traffic is running,
13:19 which is benchmarked and compared against the global operators, which is showing performance
13:24 comparable with top class networks. So, now what we are saying is a lot of operators are adopting
13:30 into technology. Now adopting into technology like Open RAN is, you know, you need a lot of
13:35 motivation to do it, right, because there's lots of open pieces. You have to come together. So we
13:40 at symphony are basically doing that work. We are bringing in the whole ecosystem
13:45 of radios, of servers of our own in-house applications for, for automation end-to0end
13:52 automation. So we are building a marketplace where we have our own offering for end-to-end software
13:57 automation and deployment and integration of all the way from planning to, to operation. And that
14:03 marketplace is also open for ecosystem partners like Juniper and, and FI, we are publicly
14:08 announced and then others, right? So we basically are now going to the market as a system integrator
14:14 and a service solution provider where we, where the operator who want to have a complete offering,
14:22 we do that. We will give a service provider, a complete offering if they're looking for that.
14:27 But if a, if operator want certain specific pieces from us, they want to be
14:32 have more control on what they're deploying. We are also offering those individual pieces
14:38 that we have developed and gained over the past few years in our deployment in Japan.
14:41 So next for us and our partnership is basically this new announcement that we have around SIM
14:48 Wear and, and SIM World. We are going and opening our global opportunities and letting
14:54 operators utilize our stack to help them build Open RAN technologies in their, their networks.
15:00 No, that's wonderful. And thank you. Thank you for joining me and sharing
15:04 your thoughts and I look forward to continued collaboration and partnership. Thank you.
15:09 Thank you. Thank you, Raj. It was pleasure to talk to you today. Thank you.