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Rakuten Symphony Telecom and CIQ Bring Open Source and Open Community to Open RAN Deployments with Rocky Linux

Tokyo, October 26, 2022 – Rakuten Symphony Inc. and CIQ, Inc. today announced the availability and support of the Rocky Linux operating system for handling demanding radio signal processing software workloads.

“Open source communities encourage innovation through collaboration. Without them, many of the technologies we take for granted today would never have developed, or would be locked away behind patent law. Deployment of CentOS-successor Rocky Linux represents a return to true open-source principles, powered by open communities,” said Tareq Amin, CEO of Rakuten Mobile and Rakuten Symphony.

In modern telecom networks, the DU deployment results in a large number of sites that today require individual operating system licenses and support. Using licensing models designed for enterprises with smaller footprints does not economically work. In addition, the high-performance requirements demanded by the radio processing workloads for 5G and Open RAN mean generic operating system solutions are not enough. This is true for any latency-sensitive workloads running at the edge in any industry.

The focus on high performance also improves cost-efficiency when deployed at such scale. The deployment of highly latency-sensitive and performance-oriented workloads, such as DU, requires a fine-grained allocation of compute, network and memory resources, which is accomplished through Rocky Linux’s real-time OS kernel, with orchestration done via the Rakuten Symphony SymworldTM Cloud Platform.

“We’ve successfully validated Rocky Linux with our radio software in the Rakuten Mobile network in Japan. The open source performance is clearly at parity with commercial alternatives available in the market today,” says Ryota Mibu, Cloud Platform Division Manager, Rakuten Mobile. “We have implemented the required enhanced platform awareness for radio software operation by applying advanced techniques and tools such as CPU pinning, SR-IOV, DPDK/PMD, link aggregation and source-based routing.”

Gregory Kurtzer, who founded Rocky Linux and is also the founder and CEO of CIQ, said,  “Rocky is the trusted successor to CentOS, which was immensely popular across the ecosystem including telecoms. Rocky is 100% compatible with RHEL and is continuing with the open source promise that CentOS has left behind. It is a perfect alternative in all parts of the telecom business. We have been collaborating with the telecom community to ensure it meets both the real-time performance and economic needs of large, disaggregated and open telecom 5G+ network deployments going forward. The Rakuten team has been a great partner with CIQ, and we’re all excited for the success Rakuten Symphony has achieved with Rocky Linux.”

Rocky Linux is foundational in the planned deployment of 30,000 units of SymwareTM in Rakuten Mobile and contributes to the projected 50% cost savings. Rakuten Symphony will establish a dedicated team within its cloud business unit focused on Rocky Linux distribution and is also working closely with a broad spectrum of third-party vendors and technology partners within the telecom industry to make Rocky Linux the standard operating system for running large networks.

“As a security and compliance lead for Rocky Linux/RESF, it’s been my goal to ensure that we maintain a secure, transparent and reliable enterprise Linux solution for the community,” said Scott Shinn, CTO of Atomicorp and a Rocky Linux community member and team lead. Shinn is also project manager of the open source intrusion detection system OSSEC HIDS. “This includes surpassing the requirements to conform to many industry standards (PCI-DSS, NIST-800-53/171, NERC/CIP, HIPAA, etc.) and supply chain assurance for the entire SBOM and making sure that these are always openly available to the entire open source Rocky community. This is very exciting for telecoms who have largely distributed resources from core to edge powering their 4G and 5G radio networks. For this reason, we are very excited to have Rakuten joining and sponsoring the Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation (RESF) to ensure that Rocky Linux is always a leading solution for all telecoms.”

Amin also commented, “Rakuten Symphony’s center of design centers on simplification and removal of unnecessary cost and complexity. This applies equally to architectures, technologies and cost structures. With the modern cloud based architectural changes now being introduced into telecom for the first time, this is the opportunity to think differently and solve problems in new ways given our large scale and performance needs.”

Rocky Linux is an open-source operating system designed to be bug-for-bug compatible with Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®. Rocky Linux was founded by the original founder of CentOS, Gregory Kurtzer, to provide a freely available and community-maintained version of the Enterprise Linux standard. CIQ is the founding sponsor and partner of the Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation and Rocky Linux and also offers a support and services solution around Rocky Linux.

Rakuten joined the Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation in October 2022 as part of the collaboration on Rocky Linux.

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