How network cores deployed on OCI with F5 deliver on the promise of 5G

February 15, 2024 | 4 minute read
Himanshu Shukla
Senior Principal Product Manager, OCI Development Product Management
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This blog was co-authored by Jeanette Hur, Solutions Architect at F5 networks. 

Today’s telco hurdles for 5G 

The 5G next-generation mobile technology promised hyper-fast connectivity, near-instantaneous responsiveness, and a myriad of innovative applications to increase automation and productivity. But for operators, building and managing successful 5G networks with significant infrastructure brings operational challenges and has slowed down success.

To succeed in the era of 5G, communications service providers (CSPs) need the following capabilities: 

  • Deploy a scalable infrastructure to accommodate massive data volumes
  • Ensure robust security against threats
  • Optimize performance for seamless user experience
  • Maintain agility to adapt to ever-evolving demands

These examples are just some of the hurdles that CSPs must address to not only deliver performance but also improve their bottom line and ensure that their investments are future-proof.

Challenges in the core

At the heart of every 5G network, a core network orchestrates data flow, manages connectivity, and enables a diverse range of applications and services. A function as critical as a core network needs to be secure and protected, especially as the network grows and expands. But traditional 5G cores can struggle to keep pace with the dynamic demands if they’re still relying on a rigid and resource-intensive architecture. Limitations in scalability can cripple performance during peak traffic periods, leaving frustrated administrators and users. Security vulnerabilities expose networks to malicious actors, jeopardizing sensitive data and disrupting critical operations. This lack of agility within a traditional architecture hinders innovation, slowing down the rollout of new 5G services and applications, impacting return on investment and new revenues. 

Why consider OCI with F5 for your 5G core? 

CSPs need partners who understand the intricacies of 5G to deliver solutions tailored for both their current and future demands. In this arena, two industry leaders rise to the forefront: Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) and F5. OCI offers a robust telco-optimized cloud platform built for the demands of 5G. Its highly secure, scalable, and performance-driven infrastructure provides the perfect foundation for running mission-critical 5G core workloads. F5 is a recognized provider of network security, infrastructure and application delivery and now adds Kubernetes expertise with its BIG-IP Next Service Proxy for Kubernetes (SPK) solution. SPK provides Kubernetes ingress and egress at scale with telco protocols, such as HTTP/2 and SCTP, which generic solutions don’t support. SPK versions already in production have been proven to enhance security, agility, and performance in cloud native 5G core deployments. 

Reference architecture of F5 SPK on OCI

To showcase the transformative power of their collaboration, OCI and F5 are codeveloping a validated reference architecture to run 5G core workloads on OCI with scale and performance. F5 has successfully completed its first proof of concept (POC) with SPK on OCI to seamlessly integrate SPK container ingress and egress into the OCI platform, unlocking a new level of scale, security, efficiency and effectiveness for cloud native telcos.

Reference architecture showing a single instance of F5 SPK managing ingress and egress to multiple instances of core services in any of the three availability domains on OCI
Figure 1: Reference architecture showing a single instance of F5 SPK managing ingress and egress to multiple instances of core services in any of the three availability domains on OCI

Use cases

This new architecture provides a single point for network security for traffic both into and within a CSP’s core infrastructure. This architecture addresses the following key use cases: 

  • Policy control applied over multiple traffic types, many of which are unique to a CSP network, such as TCP, UDP, SCTP, Diameter, GTPcV2, and SIP
  • Support for VLAN tagging: Allowing traffic to be segmented and routed based on VLAN IDs, which is essential for CSP’s traffic separation and security
  • Support for VRF: Enable the creation of multiple virtual routing tables within a single physical network, which allows for independent traffic forwarding and routing policies for different services within a CSP’s network. SPK on OCI enables the creation of multiple virtual routing tables within a single physical network. This configuration allows for independent traffic forwarding and routing policies for different network services for CSP’s network.

Harnessing the benefits

The OCI-F5 reference architecture delivers a multitude of benefits for CSPs embarking on their 5G journey: 

  • Unmatched scalability: OCI’s carrier-grade platform scales effortlessly to accommodate even the most demanding 5G workloads, ensuring smooth performance regardless of traffic surges. 
  • Ironclad security: F5’s SPK complements OCI’s security offering with advanced features like DDoS mitigation, API protection, and zero-trust security, and safeguarding against evolving threats. 
  • Optimized performance: The tight integration of F5’s SPK with OCI’s services optimizes traffic flows and accelerates the delivery of 5G network services. 
  • Rapid innovation: The agility of the cloud native architecture empowers CSPs to quickly adapt to changing market demands, experiment with new services, and stay ahead of the curve. 

The future of 5G is now

OCI and F5 have joined forces to empower CSPs with the tools that they need to unlock the full potential of 5G. By adopting the reference architecture, CSPs can build secure, scalable, and performant 5G core networks that deliver unparalleled user experiences and pave the way for future innovation. 

We’re scratching the surface of the transformative potential of the OCI-F5 collaboration and looking forward to providing more innovation. If you’re a CSP looking to harness the power of 5G for your business, we invite you to dive deeper into the details of this reference architecture and discover how it can help you navigate the future with confidence. 

To learn more, contact your Oracle Cloud Infrastructure representative and see the following resources: 

Himanshu Shukla

Senior Principal Product Manager, OCI Development Product Management


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