Evolution of the Flint Test-Plant

Flint is in the process of making its next big investment in its Test-Plant facility. Keith Barker, Flint’s CTO, said, “We see the ongoing investment we are making in our Test-Plant as one of key our differentiators. Not only does it provide a vital training resource, allowing Flint to extend and develop the skills of our associates, it also provides a fantastic staging resource to replicate the designs of our customers and ensure we continue to deliver solutions that are right first time, every time.”

The evolution of Flint’s Test-Plant has seen transition from traditional routing & switching through Small Cell, RAN, (SP)-Wi-Fi and Mobile/Evolved Packet Core. More recently, IMS / Telco Cloud capability has been added combined with virtualisation functionality to ensure that Flint are able to support both legacy and NFV deployments, keeping aligned with the journey our customers are taking. Keith noted, “Flint is able to create a remote proof-of-concept environment that allow us to undertake a controlled migration and rollback prior to implementation in a customer’s live environment.  This approach not only saves the cost of sending engineers to site, it also reduces the cost and time associated with new technology introduction.”

The next wave of investment in Flint’s Test-Plant is currently in plan. Keith said,“Our key customers are looking to virtualise their existing EPC and are looking to Flint to support this evolution.  With this investment, Flint are ensuring we are very familiar with the technology and ready to share best practices and lessons-learnt from our own experience. This means introducing a virtualised StarOS vEPCenvironment using the Redhat OpenStack based UltraM platform. In parallel, we have to make sure we understand the other flavours of virtualisation that our customers are using (VMWare and Canonical/Ubuntu’s OpenStack implementation, for example). Network virtualisation is a fantastic architectural transition for our industry, allowing us all to engage with Network Slices and thereby the Internet of Things (IOT). However, we have to understand in the short term, at least, that it comes with extra network complexity and a requirement for a higher skill levels from all engineering staff whilst the transition is made to the run these implementations in the OS. There are no free lunches!”

Flint is committed to continually invest in the Test-Plant and will work closely with our key partners to ensure that our investments match and support their strategic direction to ensure we are able to reduce the time and cost associated with the implementation of these new technologies, helping them, similarly, accelerate the time to revenue.

For more information on Flint’s Test-Plant, educational programme and supporting material please contact contactus@flintmail.com.