VMware positions for 5G with two AI-focused acquisitions

As operators take their first tentative steps to full virtualization of their mobile networks, the companies which powered that revolution in the data center are positioning themselves to tackle the new market. Well-known names from the IT world, such as Red Hat and Ubuntu, have won valuable new customers in the telco environment by supporting cloud core or RAN projects. And they are looking for acquisitions to increase their presence and expertise in telecoms, with VMware being particularly active.

VMware has bought two AI-based specialists in the space of a month, both with a focus on automation and optimization of virtualized networks, especially for telcos. The purchases, of Bitfusion and Uhana, are both clearly focused on the 5G opportunity.

Uhana provides a stream processing engine that can be run on the operator’s private cloud or in a public cloud. It ingests subscriber-level network telemetry from the RAN and core, and from over-the-top applications; and applies AI to that data to produce real time visibility of the network at individual subscriber level.

Its AI engine can also identify anomalies and predict problems in the network or the application; prioritize anomalies by their estimated impact on network quality of experience; infer the root cause; and recommend fixes. All that can help to reduce cost, improve QoE and differentiate services for an operator.

Uhana founder and president Sachin Katti told SenzaFili: “We apply principles of real time AI to learn and then tune the control plane for network optimization, automation and application acceleration in mobile networks.”

The Uhana platform, which was developed by a group of former Stanford University graduates who set up the firm in 2016, will be integrated into VMware’s Telco Cloud and Edge Cloud portfolios and will support its Smart Assurance and Smart Experience products.

We can expect these particular offerings to be further enhanced as VMware defines its strategy to address 5G, which its general manager of telco and edge cloud, Shekar Ayyar,  told SDxCentral revolved around four capabilities – management, operations, automation and security. “We’re now working with an increasing number of telecom carriers. Over 70 providers are using us on the network side for some form of NFV”, while 90% are using VMware technology in their IT data centers, he claimed.

As for Bitfusion, the earlier acquisition will help support heavy duty workloads in VMware’s core vSphere virtualization platform. The Bitfusion platform virtualizes hardware accelerators like FPGAs and GPUs, by decoupling those physical resources from the servers where they are positioned, allowing them to be shared. This will be important in many cloud environments where demanding workloads, such as Cloud-RAN or AI, need to be supported.