Community post by Lucina Stricko & Taylor Carpenter, CNF Working Group 

CNCF’s Cloud Native Network Function (CNF) Working Group is excited to announce the release of the “Accelerating Cloud Native in Telco: Challenges of Cloud Native Telco Transformation Today and How to Overcome Them – A CSP perspective” whitepaper. This essential document, driven by Communication Service Providers (CSPs), marks a significant milestone in the journey towards a cloud native telecommunications industry. Download the whitepaper here.

Origin and Collaboration:

Initiated at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2023 in Amsterdam, collaboration began among cloud native telco transformation pioneers, including participants from the NGMN Alliance, Linux Foundation (LF) Europe’s Sylva, LF Networking (LFN) Anuket project and the CNF Working Group. Over several months, a global cohort of CSPs and allies worked together to highlight major challenges facing cloud native telco transformations today and to formulate principles, requirements, and the next steps that will aid the industry in aligning with the vision set by the NGMN Alliance’s Cloud Native Manifesto.

Key Focus Areas:

The Telecom industry seeks the right approach for a fully cloud native operation. This whitepaper addresses some of the systemic challenges faced by CSPs, like pre-validation, adaptations, validation, automation, dependencies, lifecycle, tracing, architecture, security, and resilience. It provides actionable strategies for overcoming these pain points, such as employing the CNF Test Suite for pre-validating CNFs to ensure adherence to cloud native principles. Other examples include aligning validation velocity with key upstream projects like Kubernetes and allowing usual DevOps and SRE practices in the CNF delivery chain.

The longer-term goal is for all layers (infrastructure to workload) in telecom environments (from central to edge) to encompass the cloud native principles.  

Example layers
Example layers (J. Garrison and K. Nova. Figure 2-1. – Cloud Native Infrastructure, 2018. 43) 

Any orchestration system, infrastructure automation technology, or application service that embeds the underlying principles, practices, and behavior into their design, implementation, and operational management should be easier to utilize and integrate into these environments.

At this time, Kubernetes has been chosen as the de facto standard for building the core framework because it embraces these principles in its implementation and encourages platforms and applications to be managed in a cloud native way. That includes the abstraction of layers and services by building community-driven, open, and declarative APIs. This decouples system components, giving CSPs and vendors flexibility and choice while supporting the goals of interoperability and automation.


“With cloud native the telco industry has got a unique opportunity to overhaul its traditional network production model from the ground up towards a completely software-driven telco. It is a single technology that penetrates all areas of the telco chain from core (5G) to radio (O-RAN). To reap vast benefits of such a production model it has to be done right and this whitepaper points to concrete measures for achieving that.” 

Vuk Gojnic, Cloud Native Telco Platform Lead at Deutsche Telekom

“In the dynamic realm of telcos, collaborative cloud native transformation isn’t just a choice for operators; it’s a manifesto for the future, a shared commitment to redefine possibilities and elevate the industry together.”

Ashan Senevirathne, Product Owner Mobile Cloud Native Orchestration at Swisscom

“Telcos have embraced cloud and DevOps, gearing up for an AI-driven future. To make the most of this transformation, our apps need to follow cloud-native principles. This ensures efficient software development, opening doors for innovation and faster time-to-market.” 

Sana Tariq, Ph.D, Principal Architect, Cloud and Service Orchestration at TELUS 

LFN’s Cloud Native Telecom Initiative:

As part of the ongoing commitment to streamline the adoption of cloud native technologies in telecom, the CNF Working Group encourages participation in LF Networking’s new Cloud Native Telecom Initiative. This new program builds on the work of LFN’s Anuket and CNCF’s CNF Test Suite and Certification programs, aiming to forge a consensus on cloud native operating models for telecom. 

LFN Projects and Project Specific Test and certification

Join the CNF Working Group meeting on Monday, December 18, 2023, at 8 am PT to help define the scope of the Cloud Native Telecom Initiative. Add the “CNF WG Meeting” to your calendar via this link.

Special Acknowledgements:

We extend our gratitude to contributors from Bell Canada, Charter Communications, Deutsche Telekom (DT), DNA Oyj, Orange, Swisscom, TELUS, and Vodafone. We would also like to give special thanks to the community members from Dell Technologies, MATRIXX Software, Isovalent, Open Infrastructure Foundation, and Samsung Electronics who provided multiple iterations of feedback. All of your insights and expertise have been invaluable in shaping this whitepaper.