Rakuten Mobile Network Organization is one of five nominees for the Superuser Awards to be presented at the Open Infrastructure Summit Shanghai. Check out their story and rate their nomination by October 8.


It’s time for the community to help determine the winner of the Open Infrastructure Summit Shanghai Superuser Awards. The Superuser Editorial Advisory Board will review the nominees and determine the finalists and overall winner after the community has had a chance to review and rate nominees.

Now, it’s your turn.

The Rakuten Mobile Network Organization team is one of five nominees for the Superuser Awards. Review the nomination criteria below, check out the other nominees and rate the nominees before the deadline October 8 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

Rate them here!

Who is the nominee?

Rakuten Mobile Network Organization, whose team consists of 100+ members.

Core leaders of the team:

Tareq Amin, Ashiq Khan, Ryota Mibu, Yusuke Takano, Masaaki Kosugi, Yuichi Koike, Yuka Takeshita, Rahul Atri, Shinya Kita, Vineet Singh, Mohamed Aslam, Jun Okada, Sharad Sriwastawa, Sushil Rawat, Michael Treasure.

How has open infrastructure transformed the organization’s business?

In June of 2018, Rakuten Inc., Japan, launched a new initiative to enter into the highly competitive mobile market space in Japan as the 4th Mobile Network Operator (MNO), so that they can own the entire customer experience over their network. Rakuten has decided to push the cloud technology boundary to its limits and, in this regard, has gone with a cloud-based architecture based on OpenStack and Kubernetes for its mobile network. In its goal to get a fully automated, highly efficient, cost optimized solution, Rakuten has chosen to run their entire cloud infrastructure on commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) x86 servers, powered by Cisco Virtualized Infrastructure Manager (CVIM), an OpenStack-based NFV platform.

Open source technology has made this a reality in an extremely short timeframe.

How has the organization participated in or contributed to an open source project?

Rakuten is an active user of the OpenStack technology. In this regard, they have pushed Cisco and Red Hat to back port features like trusted_vf, and Cinder multi-attach feature for RBD backend to Queens. Also, since the entire network is IPv6, they are the key proponents to get IPv6 going in Kubernetes.

What open source technologies does the organization use in its open infrastructure environment?

Rakuten uses CVIM, Cisco’s OpenStack infrastructure manager designed for use in highly distributed telco network environments. Rakuten is also using Kubernetes for their container workload, which is hosted on CVIM as well. Cisco VIM is composed of many open source components along with OpenStack, such as Prometheus, Telegraf, Grafana (for monitoring), Elasticsearch, fluentd, and Kibana (for logging), and a variety of deployment and automation tools. The OPNFV toolsets, VMTP and NFVBench, are integrated with CVIM’s OpenStack deployment to prove out networking functionality and performance requirements, key to delivering telco-grade SLAs. Ceph is used to provide fault-tolerant storage.

What is the scale of your open infrastructure environment?

Rakuten mobile network, in its full scale, will consist of several thousand clouds, each of which will run VNFs and CNFs that are critical to the mobile world. All these clouds are currently based on the Queens release of OpenStack and are orchestrated by CVIM (OpenStack Queens). Some of the clouds also run the VNFMs, OSS/BSS systems and private cloud for customer multimedia data storage and sharing.

The overall plan is to deploy several thousand clouds running vRAN workloads spread across all of Japan to a target 5M mobile phone users. These are small edge clouds that run mobile radio specific workloads and need distributing across the countryside to be close to the antennae they control.

The deployment includes 135K cores, with a target of using up to a million cores when done.

What kind of operational challenges have you overcome during your experience with open infrastructure?

The main challenge associated with his network is the sheer number of clouds associated with the solution. Planning and operationalizing hardware and software updates/upgrades, rolling out new features, BIOS updates, security compliance, etc. and monitoring all of the clouds centrally with full automation is not only a challenge, but is pushing Rakuten and all its vendors towards the edge of technology. Also, the cloud is solely running over IPv6 which is a paradigm shift in the industry. In order to meet such immense challenges, Rakuten Mobile has developed an operation system (OSS) which performs IP address generation and allocation, VNF instantiation and their lifecycle management, mobile basestation commissioning in a fully automated way, to name a few.

How is this team innovating with open infrastructure?

Given the size of the solution, automation is the only way out. Rakuten has invested heavily in automating every operation possible. This includes cloud installation, updates, and reconfiguration over the Rest API provided by CVIM. Also, the cloud has been adapated to handle low latency workloads. Also, Rakuten has created a staging lab, where all vendors bring in their software. Integration testing happens there and, once that passes, the software for every vendor is rolled out. Also, a CI/CD system has been developed, that picks up software from each vendor and rolls it into the test lab for testing to commence.

Rakuten will also be one of the pioneers in offering mobile gaming and low latency applications from its edge data centers using true multi-access edge computing (MEC).


Each community member can rate the nominees once by October 8 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.