CASE STUDY: Nokia: Enabling 5G and DevOps at a Telecom Company with Kubernetes

What is Kubernetes?

Well according to its official document, “Kubernetes is a portable, extensible, open-source platform for managing containerized workloads and services, that facilitates both declarative configuration and automation”. It has a large, rapidly growing ecosystem. Kubernetes services, support, and tools are widely available.
Or to be very simply said Kubernetes is a container management tool.

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)

AKS allows you to quickly deploy a production ready Kubernetes cluster in Azure, it simplifies deploying a managed Kubernetes cluster in Azure by offloading much of the complexity and operational overhead to Azure. As a hosted Kubernetes service, Azure handles critical tasks for you, like health monitoring and maintenance.

Since the Kubernetes masters are managed by Azure, you only manage and maintain the agent nodes. Thus, as a managed Kubernetes service, AKS is free; you only pay for the agent nodes within your clusters, not for the masters.


- Security, Access, and Monitoring

- Clusters and Nodes

- Virtual Networks and Ingress

- Development Tooling Integration, ETC…


Nokia was the first name in mobile phones when they were becoming ubiquitous in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But by 2014, the company had sold off its mobile device division and was focusing its core business not on the handhelds used for calls, but on the networks.


Nokia’s core business is building telecom networks end-to-end; its main products are related to the infrastructure, such as antennas, switching equipment, and routing equipment. “As telecom vendors, we have to deliver our software to several telecom operators and put the software into their infrastructure, and each of the operators have a bit different infrastructure,” says Gergely Csatari, Senior Open Source Engineer. “There are operators who are running on bare metal. There are operators who are running on virtual machines. There are operators who are running on VMware Cloud and OpenStack Cloud. We want to run the same product on all of these different infrastructures without changing the product itself.”


The company decided that moving to cloud native technologies would allow teams to have infrastructure-agnostic behavior in their products. Teams at Nokia began experimenting with Kubernetes in pre-1.0 versions. “The simplicity of the label-based scheduling of Kubernetes was a sign that showed us this architecture will scale, will be stable, and will be good for our purposes,” says Csatari. The first Kubernetes-based product, the Nokia Telephony Application Server, went live in early 2018. “Now, all the products are doing some kind of re-architecture work, and they’re moving to Kubernetes.”


Kubernetes has enabled Nokia’s foray into 5G. “When you develop something that is part of the operator’s infrastructure, you have to develop it for the future, and Kubernetes and containers are the forward-looking technologies,” says Csatari. The teams using Kubernetes are already seeing clear benefits. “By separating the infrastructure and the application layer, we have less dependencies in the system, which means that it’s easier to implement features in the application layer,” says Csatari. And because teams can test the exact same binary artifact independently of the target execution environment, “we find more errors in early phases of the testing, and we do not need to run the same tests on different target environments, like VMware, OpenStack, or bare metal,” he adds. As a result, “we save several hundred hours in every release.”

“Kubernetes opened the window to all of these open source projects instead of implementing everything in house. Our engineers can focus more on the application level, which is actually the thing what we are selling, and not on the infrastructure level. For us, the most important thing about Kubernetes is it allows us to focus on value creation of our business.” — GERGELY CSATARI, SENIOR OPEN SOURCE ENGINEER, NOKIA

thanks for reading………..