RAN, O-RAN, and Intelligent Automation: A Collaboration Between Juniper Networks and IBM

By Alex Passett March 27, 2023

It was just last week on a conference call that our team’s director made the observation that O-RAN-related news has been popping up more frequently this month (opposed to previous months, or even during mid-to-late 2022).

He’s correct; within the last several days, I myself have written two articles pertaining to O-RAN developments; first regarding NTT DOCOMO and Spirent, and later Spirent and Anritsu. Each covered partnerships involving next-gen O-RAN ecosystem testing and accelerated solutions therein. (O-RAN, in short, stands for Open Radio Access Network; this disaggregated approach to network deployment is a nonproprietary version of RAN systems that allow for smooth interoperation between different cellular network vendors.)

That all said, you can likely guess where this is headed:

O-RAN news, in the form of another O-RAN-centric partnership.

Network operations simplifier Juniper Networks is expanding its collaboration with IBM to pursue the integration of IBM’s (News - Alert) network automation capabilities with Juniper’s own RAN and O-RAN technologies.

Through new collaborative efforts, Juniper and IBM (per a representative), “will seek to deliver a unified RAN management platform designed to use intelligent automation.” In doing so, the two companies will be better enabling CSPs to monetize, optimize, and scale investments in next-gen networks and, simultaneously, provide better mobile user experiences.

Here's the long-story-short of it: By integrating Juniper’s RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) with IBM’s Cloud Pak for Network Automation, the intent will be to create a fully integrated – and, importantly, automated – RAN and O-RAN solution. With this pivotal integration, the two will be able to offer the end-to-end automation of secured 5G network slices (i.e. from provisioning through validation and deployment, monitoring and assurance of SLAs during run-time) via Juniper’s RIC and Slice-aware use case capabilities and IBM’s Cloud Pak for Network Automation’s policy engines.

Both Constantine Polychronopoulos, Group Vice President, 5G & Cloud Networking at Juniper Networks (News - Alert), as well as Andrew Coward, General Manager, Software-Defined Networking at IBM, commented on this continued collaboration and its potential.

“O-RAN is enabling a shift to an open, intelligent and programmable environment that can open up a new vista on the full potential of mobile services, driving innovative applications that make new revenue streams possible for service providers globally,” Polychronopoulos said. “To realize this potential, Juniper’s RIC has been architected as an open and interoperable platform to support easy integration with RAN automation solutions. Coupling it with IBM’s Cloud Pak for Network Automation (News - Alert) software has the potential to unlock new monetization opportunities for operators.”

“At IBM,” said Coward, “we see CSPs rapidly turning to cloud and intelligent automation technology as they look to build more open and scalable next-generation networks and provide their customers with better end-user experiences. We are driving real innovation with partners like Juniper Networks, where the value of Cloud Pak for Network Automation can bring extensive solution value to our joint clients who need disaggregated, multi-vendor and economically-viable radio networks.”

In short, this Juniper Networks-IBM collab is set to explore the democratization of radio networks, enabling more exceptional experiences for users.

Edited by Greg Tavarez
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