VMware wraps up Uhana deal, rolls out OpenStack-based VIO 6.0

VMware announces at VMworld on Tuesday that it has closed its deal to buy AI vendor Uhana. (FierceTelecom)

SAN FRANCISCO, California—VMware announced today that it has closed its Uhana acquisition, and unveiled the next release of its OpenStack solution.

Uhana, which provides artificial intelligence and machine learning optimization for mobile networks, will be particularly useful in 5G radio access networks (RANs) and the buildout of the 5G core. 

"We see a major change coming with all the radio aspects," said VMware's Gabriele di Piazza, vice president of managed products and solutions for telco NFV and edge cloud. "We invested in Uhana to provide fine-grained streaming analytics, which actually leverage direct feeds from radio networks, and then we can apply AI techniques, such as machine learning, to what we call observe, predict and control your network.

"With Uhana, we are getting deep into the network. RAN is probably one of the most complicated assets that every telco is managing, and it's just about to become even more complicated with 5G and radio densification. We're getting to the heart of understanding  the radio in every single session and transaction with Uhana."

Di Piazza said Uhana is able to "observe" by ingesting in real time every subscriber session from the network.

"The second aspect is predict," he said. "So, on top of this observerability is the ability to understand, each session, each user, the performance, the throughput support, and all of the KPIs. Then we apply machine learning on top to predict how this network could be optimized and predicting the amount of parameters that could be changed in real time. Then control is using these insights to choose the network realm."

VMware has added Uhana's technology, which was originally developed at Stanford University, to its Telco and Edge Cloud portfolio. Uhana's intelligent analytics will complement the service assurance capabilities from VMware Smart Assurance, as well as other network data collection products. VMware announced last month that it was buying Uhana.

As service providers transform their network architectures from 4G to 5G, build out edge data centers, and manage multi-cloud deployments, many are finding out that their prior bets on legacy OpenStack software providers are leading them to siloed environments with cost overruns. The difficulty in making implementations operationally manageable and connected to private, public, and edge cloud environments can impact customers and service provider revenues.

VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO) 6.0, which was also announced on Tuesday, is VMware's next generation of support for OpenStack.

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"VIO 6.0 is a major milestone for a couple of reasons," di Piazza said. "First of all, it's delivered as a completely containerized control plane and it also supports the deployment of virtual machine based applications on network virtual functions and container based network functions."

"We have fully integrated VIO 6.0 with our Kubernetes portfolio, PKS. So the beauty of this, and why is it relevant for NFV architecture, is  we use VIO as the VIM layer, virtualized infrastructure manager layer for our NFV architecture. And, we now fundamentally allow the deployment of both virtual network functions and container network functions to the same virtualized infrastructure. Customers can mix and match their virtual network functions and their container network functions."

Moving from virtual network functions (VNFs) to container network functions would eliminate the onerous task of validating and on-boarding VNFs by service providers. In 5G's case, the CNF deployments will take some time to deploy as most telcos are still in the process of building out their 5G networks.

"We are basically looking at VIO 6.0 as the cloud management and the infrastructure management that will allow carriers to efficiently deploy both in a core network all the way to the edge networks," di Piazza said. "I think containers are starting to become an established technology, and VMware has made a big bet on Kubernetes.

"We are going to transition into containers and we want to get ahead of the game here, but I don't expect the transition to be quick and easy. That is exactly the reason why we want to offer the choice of both virtual machines and containers."