When you’ll be able to constantly take a look at community software program, how does RF testing additionally want to alter?
CI/CD is a device of the IT world, of hyperscalers. Cellular community operators have labored for years to remake themselves in that picture, to develop into software-centric as a way to obtain the identical scale and agility. However MNOs are MNOs exactly as a result of they’ve one thing that nobody else does: A Radio Entry Community. And for all that it’s invisible to the attention, RF is finally a bodily interface.
“The cloud-scale firms like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, they dwell this world,” says David Woodcock, who handles product technique for take a look at orchestration firm ACentury. “They’re used to frequent, small adjustments, a number of occasions a day. And the cell community operators are going to wish to have the ability to get to that as nicely, to reap the benefits of the agility and the aptitude of cloud-native networking. However they’re handcuffed to the truth that they’ve received this large bodily asset of a wi-fi community that’s going to wish to have the ability to be examined on the similar sort of pace.
“CI/CD is all about automating all of the take a look at suites – which is very easy when what you’re testing is digital,” he continues. “However the radio layer may be very a lot bodily.” That always means guide take a look at set-up in a lab that mirrors, as a lot as attainable, the manufacturing community. “You’ll be able to’t actually do steady integration and steady deployment, with steady testing within the center, if you need to cease doing what you’re doing and re-align your lab to do the subsequent take a look at,” Woodcock says. “RF is completely different. I’ve seen it many occasions in my profession the place folks from the wired IT trade assume that the radio hyperlink a part of any community is rather like an Ethernet cable, and it’s not. So you must incorporate that layer into your end-to-end take a look at – and proper now, it’s the limiting issue for how briskly you’ll be able to take a look at.”
He explains: “When [carriers are] doing new function testing or regression testing, when Apple releases a brand new iOS replace, or there’s new Android firmware, or Community Vendor A releases a quarterly patch to their infrastructure, they’ve a whole bunch or hundreds of take a look at circumstances they should run of their labs to verify all that stuff works, nonetheless. And that entails doing 100s of cell originated telephone calls and file downloads and video calls all whereas simulating roaming between all their completely different website designs and vendor mixtures and to do a kind of checks it typically takes them hours or days to arrange the RF atmosphere of their lab to do a take a look at that takes 20 minutes.”
As a result of there may be a lot to check, he continues, he has seen firsthand that there might be time-to-market delays in, say, with the ability to promote a flagship gadget as a result of the lab isn’t accessible. “It’s an ongoing problem. It’s going to worsen, too,” Woodcock says. Not solely does each “G” add new spectrum bands and improve the complexity of the RF atmosphere (and add to check time), the emergence of Open RAN and the pushing of disaggregation into the RAN provides one more layer that must be built-in. “The variety of distributors concerned is an order of magnitude larger, and who is aware of what their cadence goes to be for once they launch their driver updates?” He foresees that operators will handle that complexity by limiting the variety of vendor mixtures they permit of their networks and demanding that these distributors work collectively forward of time on integration. However, he says, “They’re going to wish to construct a testing infrastructure that permits them to play with these mixtures and attempt to discover ways in which they break, and forestall that. And [do it] quick.” As a result of in any other case they lose the very pace and agility that they’ve been working to attain by implementing software program so deeply and broadly throughout the community.
Carriers, Woodcock says, “actually have had their palms full with the transition to cloud-native and virtualized networks. … They had been pretty comfy with how they dealt with the RF a part of their worlds. However … increasingly more now, they’re beginning to suppose, that is now the limiting case in how we speed up. So they should rethink about the best way to pace up the RF portion of the end-to-end take a look at.”
For extra insights on CI/CD and steady testing in telecom networks, try this on-demand webinar and obtain the RCR Wi-fi Information function report The continual problem: Software program, CI/CD and testing within the new community.