Red Hat is attempting to tackle the challenge of sustainability in telecom networks with a number of new innovations from partnerships that are being highlighted at MWC in Barcelona this week.

According to the company, AI can be a useful tool in this initiative, however there are many challenges to solve, such as collecting enough accurate data, converting AI recommendations into network changes, and the fact that AI itself is a significant contributor to power consumption. 

“Many sustainability projects are implemented in isolation, focusing on individual network domains or challenges and this approach has shown its limitations. In order to maximize the impact of energy efficient strategies, a more holistic approach is required across network domains by leveraging open platforms that use advanced data analytics, AI and automation,” Rimma Iontel, chief architect at Red Hat, wrote in a blog post.  

The company announced that it has teamed up with NEC and Intel to provide an open 5G infrastructure that reduces the overhead associated with power cost and consumption. 

Commercial power consumption of NEC’s converged 5G user plane function on Red Hat OpenShift is reduced by 30% using Intel Infrastructure Power Manager for 5G Core, which ensures that processors have the right power level to keep emissions to a minimum. 

The company also recently collaborated with NEC, Arm, and Qualcomm to work on sustainable call processing and packet continuity. These enhancements help reduce the total cost of ownership for RAN deployments. 

Red Hat is also using the open-source project Kepler to monitor power usage. “The technology, which was co-founded by Red Hat and IBM Research and is used by Red Hat OpenShift for power monitoring, can capture energy consumption by both CPU and graphical processing unit (GPU), thus providing insight into compute utilization patterns of training and inference tasks and evidence for further tuning and optimization,” Intel explained. This usage data can then be used to recommend an optimal configuration of performance per watt. 

The company also partnered with NTT Corporation, NVIDIA, and Fujitsu to develop a solution designed for more efficient AI-powered data analysis at the edge. It uses technology developed by the Innovating Optical and Wireless Network (IOWN) — including its All-Photonics Network and data acceleration technologies — on top of Red Hat OpenShift. 

The ability to do AI analysis in remote sites improves sustainability, as it allows companies to utilize locally available renewable energy sources, like solar or wind. 

This new solution provides an accelerated data pipeline for AI inference, which collects sensor data from local sites and moves it into an accelerator in a remote data center, where it completes the data processing with less CPU overhead than in a traditional network.

Other sustainability efforts have included a low emissions network created in partnership with Intel and Ericsson and a partnership with Intracom Telecom to create a solution that optimizes OpenShift infrastructures. 

The company also announced a new partnership with Tech Mahindra, the purpose of which is to accelerate 5G adoption across hybrid cloud. Tech Mahindra’s Multi-mode Companion Cloud allows on-premises workloads to more easily be deployed to hybrid cloud environments, including Red Hat OpenShift. 

According to Red Hat, the benefits of running Multi-mode Companion Cloud on Red Hat OpenShift are increased flexibility when it comes to network provisioning and updates, reduced cost, greater elasticity by taking advantage of things like AWS’ pay-as-you-use business model, and improved network resiliency by being able to provision extra compute as the network demands it.