Blurring the barriers between any kind of infrastructure, FusionFlow enables applications to be run on any cloud and bare metal environment, enabling applications to be shifted closer to the edge and the customer premise or remain in the cloud based on cost considerations, network congestion, time criticality, and confidentiality of applications
Unlocking the full potential of hybrid environments in public and private clouds as well as at the edge, FusionFlow introduces intelligent workload scheduling to deliver your application performance where it is needed the most.
FusionFlow unifies your applications run-time environment, allowing it to be deployed to any cloud, edge or on-premise solution without having to worry about compatibility. Removing the boundary between Bare Metal, Virtual Machine and Container by running them all as pods in your Kubernetes clusters.
From on-premise bare metal servers to AWS to Azure to Google Cloud to the Edge, FusionFlow enables the immediate creation of resources across the major public cloud providers and on-premise servers. All connected through a secured, light and high-performance software defined network. Meaning your applications and workloads can be instantly deployed across different public clouds to maximize their efficiency at the lowest cost.
FusionFlow is a multicloud control plane. It introduces a set of workload and resource abstractions on-top of existing managed services and cloud offerings that offers a high degree of workload portability across different cloud providers and vendors.
FusionFlow presents a declarative management style API that covers a wide range of portable abstractions including databases, message queues, buckets, data pipelines, serverless, clusters, and many more. A single FusionFlow enables the provisioning and full-lifecycle management of infrastructure across a wide range of providers, vendors, regions, and offerings. FusionFlow strives to become the universal orchestrator for cloud computing, and a control plane for smart controllers that can work across clouds.
As a control plane, FusionFlow does not have any active components that are on the data path. It’s responsible for maintaining records for all objects managed by it, and runs controllers that automate the management of workloads across cloud providers. These controllers use the declarative configuration and are able to make changes, react to failures, and optimize services without involving an admin.
FusionFlow models multiple types of workloads including containers and serverless. Workloads consume resources which can be based on existing managed services of a cloud provider or independent cloud offerings. Resources can be statically or dynamically provisioned, and are automatically bound to the workloads that are consuming them. FusionFlow along with specialized resource controllers automate the binding of resources to workloads, passing connection information, and dealing with network and security access.
FusionFlow supports a clean separation of concerns between developers and administrators. Developers define workloads without having to worry about implementation details, environment constraints, and policies. Administrators can define environment specifics, and policies. The separation of concern leads to a higher degree of reusability and reduces complexity.
FusionFlow includes a workload scheduler that can factor a number of criteria including capabilities, availability, reliability, cost, regions, and performance while deploying workloads and their resources. The scheduler works alongside specialized resource controllers to ensure policies set by administrators are honored.
Finally, FusionFlow is designed for extensibility at every level. Adding new APIs, resource controllers, schedulers, and other components can be done easily and without requiring code in-tree.
FusionFlow & Kubernetes
FusionFlow is based on the declarative resource management architecture of the popular Kubernetes. For convenience, FusionFlow can run directly on-top of an existing Kubernetes cluster without requiring any changes, even though FusionFlow does not necessarily schedule or run any containers on the host cluster.
Despite the similarities, FusionFlow should not be confused with Kubernetes. The two operate at different layers and solve different problems. Kubernetes is a container orchestrator and is responsible for managing containers (pods), and the resources they consume (storage volumes, and networking) across a set of nodes. FusionFlow is a multicloud workload and resource orchestrator and manages workloads (container, serverless, others) and resources they consume (databases, message queues, buckets, data pipelines, and others) across a set of cloud providers or on-premise environments.
FusionFlow can be thought of as a higher-order orchestrator across cloud providers. It’s similar in spirit to the federation project in Kubernetes, but is not limited to just containers and clusters, and varies significantly in scope and approach.
While FusionFlow has great support for container workloads, it does not mandate their use. You can use FusionFlow for scenarios and workloads that do not involve containers at all. FusionFlow supports managed Kubernetes services among cloud providers just as it does other managed services for Databases, and Big Data. FusionFlow can orchestrate the running of container workloads directly on-top of managed Kubernetes clusters.
Telco Cloud in the 5G Era: Opportunities and Challenges
The public cloud market was worth some USD 432 billion in 2020 and expected to grow at a CAGR of 20% according to Gartner1. The market was primarily dominated by hyperscalers, with Amazon, Microsoft and Alibaba leading the pack2. [SP1]
Since the advent of commercial cloud computing in 2006, popularized by Amazon with their release of ‘Elastic Compute Cloud’3, telecommunication operators have had limited success in capturing value on the opportunities thus afforded, beyond providing infrastructure connectivity.
Traditional telco sources of revenues, namely voice, messaging and data, are under threat from Over-the-Top Players (OTTs) players and cloud service providers (CSPs).
With the increasing demand for cloudification and the low-latency promises of 5G, how can telcos leverage on their intrinsic advantages to extend their service offerings and secure a bigger share of the value brought about by cloud services in this new era?
Are competition between telcos and CSPs, and particularly the hyperscalers inevitable, or can there be an opportunity for a symbiotic, win-win relationship?
Telco Cloud – A brief primer
The four typical telco cloud products include 1) co-location 2) managed hosting (private cloud) 3) operator owned Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and 4) third-party owned IaaS. These products could either be delivered by the telco operators or through their partners.
Co-location allows telco customers the flexibility of procuring and having full control of their own compute resources in a shared facility operated by the telco operator, which provides space, power and connectivity. Such an arrangement would require the customer to have the necessary resources and expertise to manage the set-up.
Managed hosting takes away the complexity of procuring, owning and managing compute resources in telco owned and managed data centres. The various permutations possible under this mode of service provision include dedicated or virtual private cloud, with multi-tenanted compute resources being used for the latter. End customers have less control over the compute resources in this instance.
Operator owned IaaS provides customers with access to virtual compute resources in data centers owned and managed by telco operators. Though customers have very limited control over the services provided, they enjoy greater simplicity and lower prices.
In the case of third-party owned IaaS, telco operators typically resell cloud services provided by hyperscalers such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, Alibaba and Google Cloud amongst others.
Choice of which products, or a combination thereof, to provide as a service, is dependent on numerous factors, including the Telcos’ market penetration, clientele base, assets and capabilities.
These services could include:
i) Pure connectivity
In this instance, the telco only provides connectivity between the public CSPs and its end customers, leveraging on its infrastructure. Such an arrangement allows telcos to remain agnostic to CSPs, and avoid the complexity involved in curating cloud service offerings, formation of partnerships with CSPs, as well as billing.
This, however, limits the telcos’ ability to generate revenue beyond that associated with connectivity services as well as from customers who would like to have bundled cloud and connectivity solutions.
Coltx is an example of this.
There are two possible approaches under such partnerships.
In the first, the telco operator continues to focus on the provision of connectivity services, whilst referring demand for cloud services to its preferred CSP(s), in return for a referral fee or potentially a revenue share, depending on the depth of relationship. There is also the added advantage of the Telco not having to invest in the development and management of cloud infrastructure.
Such an arrangement allows for a more integrated service provision to end-customers, including the possibility of service level agreements (SLAs) as well as assignment of a dedicated account team.
The drawback being that the Telco operator is not able to develop expertise in cloud services. Vodafone’s partnership with IBM falls under this categoryx.
The second approach is one whereby the telco operator offers cloud services from hyperscalers in combination with that of its own data center. Examples could include instances when customers with sensitive data prefer to store their data locally (say in a Telco’s operated co-located or private cloud) whilst using applications off the public cloud. Such services allow Telcos to meet the needs of more demanding enterprise customers, and could potentially allow Telcos to differentiate their services.
Disadvantages include the large investment required in developing and managing data centers as well as cloud services.
Deutsche Telecom, Telefonica and Telstra are some telcos adopting this strategy.
iii) Proprietary Cloud
In this instance, the telco operator decides to operate and market cloud services independent of those provided by the public CSPs, targeting customers who wants greater control over their compute resources and private cloud services.
In addition to the heavy investments required to develop and manage data centers, such arrangements would also suffer from a lack of scale and face difficulties competing against the hyperscalers.
Demand for innovative Cloud Services in the 5G era
The advent of 5G has driven demand for ultra-low latency cloud services and applications on the move. These include cloud gaming, augmented and virtual reality (ARs/VRs), autonomous vehicles, telemedicine, social media as well as the Internet of Things.
New service opportunities include 5G enabled as well as dedicated public IaaS, seamless multi-cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS), and cross-border public IaaS. Clients for such services include global service providers (such as Disney+ and Zoom Inc), domestic enterprises, and multi-national telco operators and their affiliates.
Apart from proprietary private cloud, demand is also growing for 5G local breakouts (LBOs) private cloud. Demand for such services is coming from government, large enterprises, and content providers in the arena of online education services and e-commerce. Application migration from legacy to cloud-native systems is an additional service that could be provided for this segment.
Increasingly, customers are also looking to procure cloud services and solutions for specific industry needs, particularly from the perspective of privacy, Quality of Service (QoS), and latency.
Unpredictable demand for cloud services, particularly in the instances of popular or live video-streaming applications, necessitates telco infrastructure to have software defined networking capabilities that allow for the rapid scaling and ramping up of network capacity to keep pace with in demand cloud services. Demand for such agile cloud services are expected to grow rapidly.
Challenges confronting the Telcos
Cloud services provisions are increasingly being commoditized.
Additionally, Telco do not have sufficient economies of scale, and hence competitive advantages, when going head-on with hyperscalers in the provision of cloud services.
Heavy investments into 5G infrastructure and lack of cloud and software development capabilities are also limiting telcos’ foray into extending their cloud related services.
Limited capabilities and experiences in forming partnerships with global hyperscalers, CSPs or independent software vendors (ISVs) are also hampering effort in rolling out cross-border and innovative cloud services.
The rapidly evolving environment also requires agile support and development capabilities to meet the needs of new demand, something that telcos often lack.
Opportunities and the way ahead
With 5G, Telcos now have the opportunity to differentiate their services beyond basic connectivity and cloud services provisions.
They can meet demand for ultra-low latency requirements by offering 5G enabled private or multi-cloud IaaS or PaaS. These could be both for domestic as well as cross-border demand through the federation of cloud services afforded by software defined networking capabilities, leveraging off their own data centers as well as those of partners and affiliates.
To fully realize the potential afforded for such cross-border and multi-cloud service provisions, Telcos should work towards allowing customers to have the ability to carry out self-service, on-demand deployment of their required applications and workloads, as well as configuration of network functions. Such capabilities will further drive demand.
To further differentiate themselves from the hyperscalers, Telcos should also extend beyond the ‘horizontal’ play and launch industry specific cloud solutions such as ‘Retail in a Box’ or ‘5G enabled fleet management’ solutions. Enterprises in many traditional sectors are looking to ‘cloudify’ their legacy systems to be ‘cloud-native’, and would drive demand for such solutions.
Telcos need not develop such ‘solutioning’ capabilities in-house, but partner the many domain specific ISVs in the market as well as developer ecosystems through a PaaS arrangement.
Such partnerships, leveraging on the Telcos’ infrastructure, can often result in innovative solutions that can enhance the Telcos’ overall cloud service offering.
The SkyLab FusionFlow Platform / The SkyLab Advantage
FusionFlow is an enterprise-ready platform for managing and deploying applications in heterogeneous environments.
FusionFlow has been designed to provide enterprises with the speed and power of cloud-based deployment and orchestration — containers, virtualisation, microservices — on-premise and in the cloud.
FusionFlow is essentially one package with an array of tools to accelerate the deployment and enablement of new products in any environment. SkyLab has designed the FusionFlow platform in such a way as to incorporate a suite of software working in concert. This suite includes:
Container platform based on Kubernetes and Docker.
Enterprise-class virtualisation in heterogenous environments.
Distributed storage for persistent volume storage and container registry.
Built-in automation for resource provisioning, application deployment, and infrastructure configuration.
Secure, software defined network between environments.
Marketplace, a digital catalogue of solutions enabling customers to find, purchase, deploy, and manage third-party applications.
By incorporating all of these tools, SkyLab has created an out-of-the-box means for Telcos to realise the full potential of Telco Cloud in the era of 5G.