VMware RAN Intelligent Controller Debuts
October 27, 2021
providers are transforming their RAN to architectures that
are open and programmable. This provides an opportunity for
developers to create innovative apps and services to be
deployed across the RAN. A proponent of this wave of RAN
innovation, VMware made several updates to its RAN portfolio
of products and introduced VMware RAN Intelligent Controller
(RIC). VMware RIC, along with VMware Telco Cloud Platform
RAN, will help service providers smoothly transition to Open
“When it comes to Open RAN, the genie is out of the bottle.
The potential benefits of increasing innovation while
reducing operational expense are compelling. As such, VMware
is pushing to accelerate the transformation of the RAN along
with Open RAN principles,” said Sanjay Uppal, senior vice
president and general manager, Service Provider and Edge,
VMware. “VMware is paving the way for service providers to
modernize the RAN so it is programmable and intelligent,
built with best-of-breed solutions from a vibrant partner
Introducing VMware RIC
The RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) is a new function
introduced by the O-RAN Alliance that enables service
providers to deploy cloud-native control and management apps
in the RAN. VMware is today introducing VMware RIC, a
platform that abstracts the underlying RAN infrastructure
and provides developer APIs for xApps and rApps to program
VMware RIC platform will consist of two RICs that can
run independent of each other, or together:
VMware Centralized RIC, an implementation of the
non-real-time RAN Intelligent Controller (non-RT RIC) in the
O-RAN Alliance reference architecture. It will manage and
host rApps that have control functions with response timing
greater than one second.
VMware Distributed RIC, an implementation of the
near-real-time RAN Intelligent Controller (near-RT RIC) in
the O-RAN Alliance reference architecture. It will manage
and host xApps that have control functions with response
timing less than one second, typically on the order of 10’s
VMware RIC will provide service providers with:
Choice and flexibility to transform the RAN into an open,
intelligent RAN while minimizing business disruption.
An agile RAN architecture so they can quickly respond to
customer needs, changes in traffic pattern, as well as any
unforeseen events that require a sudden shift.
Programmability and intelligence to enable innovations
introduced by a broad ecosystem.
Enhanced security to better safeguard a larger attack
surface inherent to the distributed nature of RAN sites and
the devices connected to them.
VMware has engineered its RIC to seamlessly integrate with
traditional RAN equipment as well as virtualized RAN network
functions independent of them being O-RAN compliant. A large
ecosystem of xApps and rApps enables service providers to
maximize the benefits of an Open RAN to address their unique
requirements and priorities.
To drive the growth of this ecosystem, VMware plans to offer
a RAN application developer program to help partners
jump-start and accelerate development of xApps and rApps
with VMware RIC SDKs, access to VMware RIC development
licenses, developer support, testing environment, and
interoperability certification. The planned program will be
centered around the developer experience, from the initial
design of the xApp/rApp all the way to the deployment.
Examples of partners who are already working with VMware
to integrate their xApps and/or rApps as microservices on
VMware RIC through SDKs, include:
Cohere Technologies’ Spectrum Multiplier xApp improves
spectral efficiency for service providers by as much as 2x
with the use of its unique Delay-Doppler channel
representation (read the press release).
Polte's location xApp pioneers more secure, accurate and
global location intelligence for service providers and their
AirHop xApps and rApps support a broad spectrum of use
cases, including RAN configuration and operation
optimization, interference management, capacity and coverage
optimization, and mobility optimization.
Cellwize RAN intelligence technology and rApps enable
backward compatibility alongside O-RAN future proof
management and orchestration of multi-vendor networks.
Intel is a strategic partner as VMware works with service
providers to virtualize the RAN. VMware RIC is based on
Intel FlexRAN reference architecture, enabling a flexible
and programmable platform for software-defined RANs.
FlexRAN software allows operators transitioning to a
cloud-native architecture to run their RAN and AI workloads
on the same standard hardware platform as other workloads,
from core to edge to access,” said Cristina Rodriguez, vice
president of Intel’s Network Edge Group and general manager,
Wireless Access Network Division. “VMware RIC, powered with
Intel AI and Machine Learning capabilities, supports a wide
variety of xApps and rApps that will help operators optimize
their network performance, deliver new functions and
features, and offer new value-added services.”
VMware RIC SDKs are expected to be generally available in
VMware’s Q4 FY22. VMware RIC is expected to be initially
available in VMware’s Q1 FY23.