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Achieving interoperability between cloud-native execution environments

The second phase of the WebAssembly canvas Catalyst is demonstrating how TM Forum’s Open Digital Architecture can support a hybrid technology stack, while enabling a smooth migration path to the WebAssembly execution environment.

Alasdair Riggs
11 Jun 2024
Achieving interoperability between cloud-native execution environments

Achieving interoperability between cloud-native execution environments

Commercial context

Whether to take advantage of disruptive opportunities, or conversely to counter disruption, CSPs are increasingly looking to employ flexible and scalable cloud-native technologies. To that end, many CSPs would like to harness the TM Forum’s Open Digital Architecture (ODA) canvases - execution environments for ODA components and the release automation part of a continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline.

The original ODA Canvas Reference Implementation was based on Kubernetes - a leading container orchestration platform that automates tasks involved in deploying and managing containerized applications. Many CSPs also want to employ WebAssembly (Wasm), which serves as a stack-based virtual machine for clients and servers, acting as a portable compilation target for high-level languages. Designed to support lightweight, instantaneous processes, Wasm (through the CNCF's wasmCloud open-source project) offers a distributed application runtime that represents an evolutionary step beyond Kubernetes.

“When we created the reference implementation of the Open Digital Architecture canvas in the ODA component accelerator work stream, we assumed that Kubernetes would be the default deployment platform for the canvas,” says Brian Burton, Principal Technology Architect, System Architecture at Vodafone Group Services. “That's a good decision and we aren't proposing to change that, but as new technologies come along we have to re-evaluate and plan for the continuous and seamless evolution of our customer experiences.”

The solution

The WebAssembly canvas - Phase II Catalyst is exploring how to create a Wasm-based canvas that behaves similarly to a Kubernetes-based canvas, permitting any component to be deployed on any compliant canvas. It is also looking at how to achieve interworking between a Wasm canvas and a Kubernetes-based canvas to enable those two technologies to coexist, and how to support the migration of components between the two using open technologies and standard patterns.

Further, Phase II is exploring how to integrate a ODA-compatible Wasm-based canvas with common services, such as identity and observability. Phase I of this Catalyst demonstrated the ability to run Wasm-native components in a WasmCloud-based canvas. “In WebAssembly canvas Phase II we're going to show examples of how WebAssembly implementation of the ODA canvas could work, drawing out what's different about this way of creating components and exploring how compliant WebAssembly-based components can be deployed successfully alongside an existing Kubernetes-based canvas,” explains Brian Burton.

Applications and wider value

A successful outcome will enable the deployment of a component to a Wasm canvas that demonstrates equivalent functionality to the ODA Reference Implementation, while delivering interoperability between canvases based on different technologies. At the same time, the Catalyst is designed to showcase how Wasm delivers performant, efficient and secure solutions, furthering the industry’s understanding of how Wasm fits into the ODA. It also provides a first view of how migration and interoperability between Kubernetes and Wasm will support the mobile industry as the pace of technology changes accelerates.

More broadly, the Catalyst will demonstrate how the ODA can adapt to evolving technology and remain true to its purpose and allow migration paths, without the significant need for extra integration efforts. The work of the Catalyst should ultimately help CSPs maximize the return on their current infrastructure investments, while extending container environments through integration with emerging edge and device technologies. As a result, they should be able to run software applications with a much lower infrastructure overhead than previously required, saving energy, reducing emissions, and increasing security, without significantly changing operational processes.

To learn more about how this Catalyst is showing how WebAssembly implementation of the ODA canvas can work, please click here to view the project space on the TM Forum website.