The Building Blocks to a Perfect 5G Network

March 25th, 2022 by · Leave a Comment

This Industry Viewpoint was authored by Shirin Esfandiari, Product Marketing Director for Oracle Communications

5G promises lightning-fast speeds, near 100 percent availability and reliability, and strong security from the network core to the edge. However, building the mobile network foundation needed to support a national and even a global 5G infrastructure is a huge undertaking.

5G is the generation where IT meets the network and will require technology native to the cloud. Cloud-native is the ideal architecture for 5G because of its modularity. The modular architecture of cloud-native technologies makes multivendor collaboration and best-of-breed strategies not only possible, but a reality, which is essential to 5G’s long-term success. For example, communications service providers (CSPs) can pull in the best end-to-end communications security solutions and work with their preferred vendors to roll out improvements to the customer experience.

Layering the best apps on top of cloud infrastructure makes it easier and faster for providers to push services out further on their networks. With a cloud-native environment, carriers can also scale their networks up or down depending on specific customer needs or changing demands, and the cloud environment simplifies application integrations and deployment, ensuring a good customer experience for carriers and enterprises.

Although most mobile networks today primarily support person-to-person communications or the consumption of streaming content, 5G opens the door to many promising new use cases. For example, CSPs are already thinking through new offerings for enterprises customers, such as 5G network slicing, or industrial solutions like IoT connectivity for construction site equipment. On the consumer front, 5G’s ultra-low latency can take cloud gaming to the next level. All of those use-cases demand a very different standard of networking than past generations provided. The services-based architecture of 5G is entirely dependent on cloud native technology helping to make those new requirements a reality since it can be automated and is both scalable and distributable.

Layering in Security

5G will only elevate the importance of secure mobile networks, especially as more commercial industries and governments start to leverage private 5G infrastructure. Therefore, it is critical operators build up latency-sensitive and reliability-intense 5G networks that support direct programmatic control of industrial solutions and consumer apps. Capabilities like artificial intelligence for operations (AIops) and the ability to rapidly scale when demand peaks will be necessary for operators to satisfy needs.

As mobile core functions move closer to the user at the edge, operators will be able to offer low latency and superior user experiences to specific sites through the cloud. In fact, microservices will allow for automation and speed delivery time of 5G services. The cloud will make it the norm to have software that updates and refreshes continuously and is deployed instantaneously.

While it may seem like service providers are starting from scratch, each carrier network is still a combination of past and present, and that will remain true with 5G and the customer networks it will connect to. This means 5G cloud architecture will need to work with multiple generations of networks. For instance, software-defined networking (SDN) technologies will need to be the same for virtual machines in Openstack as for containers in Kubernetes. Similarly, storage requirement for both IT and telecom applications will need to converge to enable multiple generations of mobile networks to work alongside one another in a cloud native environment.

To ensure security throughout the transition to a cloud native 5G core, service providers must be sure their engineers embrace a security-by-design mindset that accounts for safety at every level – from chip sets to the end of applications to 5G-enabled devices.

Bringing It All Together

To reap the full benefits of what cloud native, microservices-based technology promises, carriers must be able to work with their choice of vendors and across both public and private clouds. End-to-end orchestration is crucial for handling network functions from different partners, meaning carriers must start thinking about enabling automation from day one.  

Lastly, 5G carriers must start thinking like cloud operators. This means looking at everything as code, incorporating automation into every process and evaluating the world through data. For the first time the network is code and automation will be needed for today’s network applications to meet demand. It also means the network must be managed with a data-centric analysis and decision-making.

It’s an entirely new way of operating, but one that will maximize the benefits of 5G and make the new ecosystem work – no matter how fast or slow the carrier is evolving towards a standalone 5G network.  

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Categories: Security · Software · Wireless

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