Many of the implementation details presented in this book were informed by Aether, an open source edge cloud that includes a 5G connectivity service. Source code for all the individual components (e.g., AMP, SD-Core, SD-RAN, SD-Fabric) can be downloaded and inspected, and deployment artifacts built from that source code (e.g., Docker Images, Helm Charts, Fleet Bundles, Terraform Templates) can be used to bring up a running instance of Aether on local hardware. (See the Source Directory section of this appendix for information about where to find the relevant code repositories.)

A multi-site deployment of Aether has been running since 2020 in support of the Pronto Project, but that deployment depends on an ops team with significant insider knowledge about Aether’s engineering details. It is difficult for individuals to reproduce that know-how and bring up their own Aether clusters. As an alternative, Aether is also available as two self-contained software packages that are reasonably straightforward to install and run, even in a VM on your laptop. These packages were originally designed to support developers working on Aether components:

  • Aether-in-a-Box (Aiab): Includes SD-Core and the online aspects of AMP (Service Orchestrator and the Monitoring Subsystem). AiaB can be configured to work with either an emulated RAN or physical small cell radios (both 4G and 5G).

  • SDRAN-in-a-Box (RiaB): Includes the ONOS-based nRT-RIC, the O-RAN defined E2SM-KPI and E2SM-RC Service Models, and example xApps. RiaB can be configured to work with either an emulated RAN or with OAI’s open source RAN stack running on USRP devices.

Note that these two packages do not include SD-Fabric, which depends on programmable switching hardware. Readers interested in learning more about that capability (including a P4-based UPF) should see the Hands-on Programming appendix of our companion SDN book.

Both AiaB and RiaB provide a way to get started with the components described in this book, but a significant gap remains between this these self-contained versions of Aether and an operational 5G-enabled edge cloud deployed into a particular target environment. To address that gap, there is an ongoing effort to re-package Aether in a way that provides an incremental path for users to:

  • Learn about all the moving parts in Aether.

  • Customize Aether for different target environments.

  • Deploy and operate Aether with live traffic.

The new packaging, called Aether OnRamp, started with AiaB, but has been refactored to help users step through a sequence of increasingly complex blueprints. The goal is to prescribe a (mostly) linear sequence of steps a new user can follow to bring up an operational system that runs 24/7 and supports live 5G workloads. Aether OnRamp is still a work in progress, but anyone interested in participating in that effort is encouraged to join the discussion on Slack in the ONF Community Workspace. A roadmap for the work that needs to be done can be found in the Aether OnRamp Wiki.