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This blog post is based on a presentation at ONE Summit 2024 by Sana Tariq of TELUS Canada and Alexis de Talhouët and Bala Varadaraju of Red Hat.  The full presentation recording is available here. 

In today’s rapidly evolving networking landscape, efficiency and agility are paramount. Gen AI, combined with Nephio, is poised to revolutionize the way we orchestrate networks. The below summary provides a comprehensive overview of Nephio GitOps + Gen AI and its potential to transform network management.

The  presentation commenced with a discussion on Nephio’s foundational principles,  designed to simplify network function management and reduce operational overhead. These principles include:

  1. Intent-Driven Automation: Nephio allows users to specify desired outcomes (intent), and the system prescribes the detailed steps to achieve those outcomes.
  2. Kubernetes Patterns: Leveraging Kubernetes, Nephio ensures scalability and reliability, making it a robust solution for managing complex network environments.
  3. Multi-Cloud Flexibility: Nephio supports diverse cloud environments, ensuring adaptability and flexibility in various network configurations.

Nephio Evolution and Releases

Nephio’s journey has been marked by significant milestones. From the initial R1 release to the upcoming R3 and beyond, Nephio has continuously evolved to meet the demands of modern network environments. Key achievements include:

  • Nephio Release 1: Laid the foundation with Kubernetes-based automation, intent-driven management, and network function automation using Free5GC as an example.
  • Nephio Release 2: Expanded to support O-RAN network functions, introduced multi-vendor and multi-cloud support (e.g., GCP, OpenShift), and launched the Nephio Experimental section showcasing SDKs and TOSCAs topology controllers.
  • Nephio R3 and Beyond: Will  focus on production readiness, multi-cloud security, and enhancing user experience with GenAI integration. Future plans include supporting northbound APIs, network function lifecycle management, and synergies with broader projects like Sylva and O-RAN-SC.

Nephio and Gen AI Integration

The capabilities of Gen AI  extend beyond basic automation. The potential for  template generation, configuration updates, and data-fill processes is vast. Initial explorations have shown that Nephio, which decouples data from automation, offers an even greater opportunity to leverage Gen AI for template hydration. By providing SDKs for Nephio, we can create a path of lower resistance for Helm to Operator conversion, and potentially open new avenues for code generation and SDKs through Gen AI.

On the network side, Gen AI can play a crucial role in improving cloud capacity, cost management, and energy usage. For 5G RAN and edge environments, it can deliver better performance and support network operations through Gen AI-based provisioning and troubleshooting.

Understanding how Nephio can revolutionize intent and closed-loop models is key. For instance, at the network slicing layer, creating an eMBB network slice with a certain SLA involves translating this intent into deploying a 5G network with specific specifications and configurations. Nephio can decompose this intent further into operators and CRDs, enabling a well-known observe, analyze, and act loop. Gen AI can assist in writing CRDs, operators, and network troubleshooting analysis, gradually removing humans from the loop.

Watch the full presentation on Nephio + Gen AI on the LFN YouTube Channel, and stay tuned for more updates on Nephio’s evolution.