Raj Yavatkar, SVP & CTO, Juniper Networks 

Rakuten and Juniper Discuss the Management of O-RAN Platforms | Juniper Global Summit 2022

Global Summit 2022 5G
Raj Yavatkar Headshot
Still shot of the title slide of the webinar. It features the title, “Rakuten and Juniper Discuss the Management of O-RAN Platforms,” written in black type on a white background. “Juniper Networks Global Summit” is included at the top along with the theme, “Demand More.” There are multiple curved lines of varying shades of pink, green, orange, yellow and blue off to the sides –– this is the branding for the Juniper Global Summit.

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.” 

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You’ll learn

  • 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?

Network Professionals Business Leaders

Host

Raj Yavatkar Headshot
Raj Yavatkar
SVP & CTO, Juniper Networks 

Guest speakers

Sushil Rawat Headshot
Sushil Rawat
Vice President, vRAN Platform, Rakuten Mobile
Transcript

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.

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