Here we catch up with China Mobile and hear how they carry out in-depth practice of OpenStack as the cloud infrastructure, to build their NFV/SDN network.


We’re spotlighting previous Superuser winners who are on the front lines deploying OpenStack in their organizations to drive business success. These users are taking risks, contributing back to the community and working to secure the success of their organization in today’s software-defined economy.

China Mobile won the Superuser Award at the OpenStack Summit in Barcelona. As the world’s largest mobile phone operator with various OpenStack deployments, they are now not only building up the NFV network among world-leading operators based on OpenStack but also expanding the NFV platform to support 5G C in the near future. The following are their major OpenStack deployments.

What has changed in your OpenStack environment since you won the Superuser Awards?

We have carried out in-depth practice of OpenStack as the cloud infrastructure, especially in our Network Cloud, to build China Mobile’s NFV/SDN network. We believe it has directly promoted the maturity of the industry and the maturity of NFV/SDN solutions based on OpenStack, especially in a multi-vendor environment through our NFV/SDN pilot and NovoNet experimental network. China Mobile is now entered into the second year of NFV/SDN network construction since 2019. The network is about to commercialize in the second half of 2020.

What is the current size of your OpenStack environment?

The scale of China Mobiles NFV/SDN network cloud is huge, in eight regions across the whole country.

We believe China Mobile is now building up the biggest NFV network among worlds leading operators based on OpenStack, the total number of servers in the network is more than 50,000 now. For each OpenStack instance, it has to manage 500 to 1,500 servers. The virtual network functions (VNFs) running on top of the virtualization includes IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), Evolved Packet Core (EPC) and value added services etc. and We will also expand the NFV platform to support 5G C in the near future.

What version of OpenStack are you running?

Mitaka + (with some enhancements of Pike/Queens version are absorbed)

What open source technologies does your team integrate with OpenStack?

Our team mainly researches NFV system integration. Now we build the CI/CD process to carry out automatic software integration and testing. Different virtual infrastructure manager (VIM) (OpenStack based platform), NFV orchestrator (NFVO) and VNF are automatically deployed and tested through a unified platform. Currently, the CI/CD platform uses Docker technology

What workloads are you running on OpenStack?

  • 4G service, including 18 core network elements and service platforms, such as virtualized IMS, EPC, intelligent network and Short Message Service (SMS)/Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) platform etc.
  • 5G service.

How big is your OpenStack team?

Its difficult to give the exact numbers, but we have different teams working on OpenStack, with one working on the additional telco requirements based on open source version, another team is to test the vendors product and make sure their commercial OpenStack software can support telcos communication services. After deployment, there would be another team continuously working on the operational aspects of the OpenStack.

How is your team currently contributing back to the OpenStack project?

At present, in terms of Network Cloud, China Mobile is mainly acted as an OpenStack user. With the emergence of Edge Computing, we are also closely following and contributing other OpenStack projects, such as StarlingX.

What kind of challenges has your team overcome using OpenStack?

The feasibility of OpenStack carrying telecommunication service has been fully verified. At present, in the aspect of network operation and management, OpenStack still needs to be enhanced and improved to achieve 5 Nines HA. In addition, more work needs to be done in the hyper-scale scenario to achieve high performance and high reliability of OpenStack.