The IP Multimedia System (IMS) is the foundation of modern voice and messaging in 4G LTE and 5G and is located at the very core of the core networks of most communication service providers (CSPs). A 3GPP standard, IMS is a framework of dozens of standalone functions performed from standalone applications, controls, and transport layer interfaces.
IMS is designed for scalability, flexibility and versatility. It can also transform into cloud-native core services. But IMS has many different network functions. Managing their life cycle introduces operational complexity at a time when CSPs do not focus on increasing, reducing operating costs.
Nokia’s solution to this problem is the new Cloud Native Communication Suite (CNCS). CNCS is a pre-integrated IMS core, which operates on the core network as a single cloud native function (CNF), working predictably, reliably, and with cloud-native scale and flexibility.
“Today’s largest IMS application operators have voice. And our customers really want to make voice core accessibility easier, “explained Juni Parvienen, Nokia’s Voice over 5G solutions manager. “Instead of specializing in many network components, why not just manage one?”
In CNCS, IMS core functions are integrated into a single network component. It provides CSP with a unified lifecycle management solution from start to finish. CNCS has all the previous separate IMS network functions, including Session Border Controller (SBC), Call Session Control Function (CSCF), Telephony Application Server (TAS) and Media Resource Function (MRF).
These individual network functions are applied as a microservice within a CNF. Nokia Container Services (NCS) may provide containers as a service (CaaS) functionality for the on-premises deployment of CNCS on bare metal servers. Kubernetes is an integral part of the NCS platform. CNCS provides a future path for CSPs to work with public cloud environments.
Parvienen said the CNCS was built using Nokia’s own best-of-breed voice core products.
“We at Nokia have all these network components as products. What we have done now is to inherit the effectiveness of those products in the CNCS, ”he said.
Parvienen explained that the microservice ingredients were extracted from those original products, assembling them into CNCS. The general functionality of individual network components, such as database components, has been integrated and streamlined in CNCS for maximum efficiency and scalability.
“We’ve optimized the interface so that there is a direct connection between the microservices, and we apply common functions only once,” Parveen said.
This simplified IMS capability enables streamlined voice core network function management throughout the lifecycle process. External interfaces are assembled, and internal functions are pre-assembled. CNCS applies common diameter transmitters for all external diameter communications, for example. Depending on the needs of individual products, similar IMS core components can be configured at once without the need for individual maintenance and monitoring of each component.
CNCS also inherits its value-based business logic from its core IMS core products. CSPs are presented with a unique component manager with a unique operational, administration and management (OAM) interface.
CNCS employs Zero Touch Service (ZTS) for general operational and service functions, which are monitored as a single component in the network. Inside, CNCS 3GPP standard interfaces are implemented between business logic functions (microservices) using direct Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) communication. Thus SIP traffic within the CNCS is optimized between A-SBC, CSCF and TAS functions.
Similarly, a general state database is used to decode relevant session information
From the logic of the service used. Internal interfaces are abstracted, leaving standard open interfaces external.
It reveals better debugging and monitoring capabilities than a conventional IMS core with a single interface used for debugging. Compared to a typical IMS deployment, CNCS can streamline the process of upgrading voice core network components from day to hour, Parvinenen says.
Outcome: CNCS can help CSP flow operational costs by reducing complexity. As the entire telecom industry seeks to improve energy efficiency and sustainability, CNCS offers an advantage: it offers the same functionality as a conventional IMS, but with 10-20 percent lower hardware energy costs.
Telecom is facing the same digital transformation efforts as many other global industries. As CSPs continue to advance in cloud-native operations, they must compete with 2G and 3G networks. At the same time, CSPs are under a lot of pressure to improve low operating costs and improve capital expenditure.
CNCS provides a pathway that offers operators improved skills and quality-based management using the power of the Open Application Programming Interface (API). As a cloud-native function, CNCS gives CSP more flexibility than ever before, extending, replacing, or launching new special-use services on existing 4G and 5G networks.
CNCS provides basic voice, messaging and multimedia, which are applied together to act as a single product optimized for 4G, 5G, fixed and Wi-Fi deployments. This can help CSP achieve lower operating costs through streamlined lifecycle management: shorter installation and upgrade times, improved visibility and monitoring, and faster installation and configuration.