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For telecommunication industry, network functions are designed following a paradigm and in distributed architecture. No matter it is PNF, VNF or CNf, each NF is desgined  as in distributed architecture with multiple modules, which typically includes interfaces module (which is in charge of south-north communication with other NFs), business processing modules (which deals with NF business logics), data storage module (which stores NF data), and operation andf management module (which is in charge of NF operation and management). Within all these functional modules, operation and management module (OAM module), as it has similar functions to different NFs, can be shared as common module.

The common operation and management functions used by NF usually include but not limited to: configuration management, heartbeat management, performance management, log management, alarm management. If checking those open-sourced network function projects, such as OAI and Free5GC, it is shown that operation and management functions are non-business-logic related functions, which are usually not included in network functions source code. However, they these OAM functions are necessary in NF productions, and play important roles in achieveing observability which usually are developed by vendors or operators. Besides, according to cloud native application design principles, observability is one of the most important feature an application should have. With these OAM functions, NF can achieve observability easily.

As OAM functions are common, reusable and nacessary , non-business-log-related and necessary functions to NF, they can be treated as PaaS  PaaS capabilities provided by cloud service provider to NF developers. Using platform provided OAM fucntions can help the NF developers focue more on core business design while be reliefed from repetitive OAM implementation. So cloud native OAM, which is a group of operation and management functions for NFs, can be treated as Telco PaaS capabilities.

Typical functions of cloud native OAM:

  • NF configuration management function: this function manages configurations of NFs. It supports to accept NF configuration command from orchestration systems, manage current and historical configurations of NF, and configuring NF.  As NF's configurations are usually stored in configuration files and has vendor-different formats, the management target for this function is only configuration file without defining the file contents. For some newly developed NF strictly following cloud native principle and using Kubernetes/Docker as resources, their configurations can be stored directly in etcd as configmaps.
  • NF heartbeat management function: this function helps to monitors the NF's health status. This function has different levels of implementation. The easiest-level implementation is collecting NF-level heartbeat outside NF. This relies on the NF itself to generate heartbeat within each microservice instances, monitoring internal heartbeats, determine NF health status internally with overall microservice heartbeat data. The heartbeat collected on this level can only reflect whether the NF is normal or not, while not knowing whether it is healthy inside. The middle-level implementation is collecting NF microservice-level heartbeat. This relies on each NF microservice to report its heartbeat, with which the function can determine whether the NF is healthy based on some pre-defined rules. The hardest-level implementation, which is also the most cloud native one, is monitors the health status of pod through kubernetes liveness probe, and analyze microservices-level and NF-level health status sutomatically. As current NF are mostly self-contained, the easiest-level implementation is mostly used, while the middle-level implementation and hardest-level implementation are prefered to be followed in the future.
  • NF performance management function: this function helps to monitors the metrics of NF. It supports to collect the metrics data and do analysis based on pre-defined rules. Prometheus is the most commonly selected software. 
  • NF log management function: this function helps to collect and store logs of NF.
  • NF alarm management function: this functions helps to collect alarms of NF both at NF-level and resource-level. It also supports to clean the alarm data.

For more design and interface details, please go to:

4.2.4 XGVela PaaS Workflow