How Kubernetes is helping Nokia?

3 min readMar 12, 2021

Nokia is focusing on building telecom networks end-to-end. That means their main products are related to the infrastructure, such as antennas, switching equipment, and routing equipment.

FUN FACT: “When people are picking up their phones and making a call on Nokia networks, they are creating containers in the background with Kubernetes.” — GERGELY CSATARI, SENIOR OPEN SOURCE ENGINEER, NOKIA

This means they have to deliver their software to several telecom operators and put the software into their infrastructure, and each of the operators has a bit different infrastructure. 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. Which actually a very difficult task to manage. If we personally have to maintain a cluster on VM it’s a very tedious task for us.

So, this was the challenge that Nokia was facing. So, first, let’s discuss what all things can solve this use case if we are encountering such a problem.

To solve such use, we definitely need a single environment that is capable of running the same product or business use case but in a different environment. So, we will surely go with container technology. No doubt, container technology like Docker, CRI-O, and podman have immense power but it also comes with a drawback of managing it. It still needs some engineer behind it to manage the industry use cases of high availability, scalability, etc. So, we need to adopt a platform that helps in managing containers, and the best fit for this is Kubernetes. We can use concepts of scalability, tagging the pods, load balancing, etc. Now, let’s see what Nokia used to solve this challenge.

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. The first Kubernetes-based product, the Nokia Telephony Application Server, went live in early 2018. After seeing the benefits, other teams and products went for re-architecture of moving everything to Kubernetes.

How this change impacted Nokia?

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. By separating the infrastructure and the application layer, they have fewer dependencies in the system, which means that it’s easier to implement features in the application layer. And because teams can test the exact same binary artifact independently of the target execution environment, more errors in the early phases of the testing, and they do not need to run the same tests on different target environments, like VMware, OpenStack, or bare metal.




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