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5G

5G: It’s a New World Now

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2022 was the year 5G adoption reached critical mass. But there is a lot of work still left to optimize networks, lower costs, and deliver new 5G services to maximize revenue opportunities. 5G test and assurance practices are quickly changing to help enable this brave new 5G world.

Powerful forces that transformed how companies must approach testing are at work. There is no point in fighting it; the best strategy is to understand what’s changing and change with it in as effective a way as possible.

Why the change?

Look around our world. Everything is going to the cloud. Hardware is being replaced by software from multiple vendors. We’re disaggregating formerly monolithic, complex systems (like the RAN, for example, which is being replaced by Open-RAN). And AI and ML are growing into everything we do.

Organizations’ established test and assurance best practices – honed from years of painstaking experience – are now being upended. These practices were built for yesterday’s static and rigid development cycles and operational processes. These highly manual, slow and expensive practices simply cannot keep pace with today’s multi-vendor, cloud-native, CI/CD environments.

Old-world test and assurance practices

Not too long ago, we used a plethora of single-purpose, dedicated test tools. Testing was siloed by teams and by lifecycle stage. We had physical test beds with little churn – these test beds didn’t change much over time.

Automation? Sure, but not extensive and typically painstakingly built by in-house teams focused on specific use cases, which did not take into account the ultimate integration requirements of end-to-end lab-to-live test automation.

And the most common testing was passive network monitoring performed by in-house teams. Very unwieldy and expensive.

New-world test and assurance practices

You can no doubt see the problems with the old-world practice. Too slow, too manual, and ill-suited for today’s multi-vendor CI/CD world. So, let’s look at where testing is headed.

  • Cloud-native solutions used across the lifecycle. Staging in the cloud allows teams to consume what they need as they need it. It’s a faster, more dynamic way to test.

  • Lab-to-live continuous testing (CI/CD/CT). The CI/CD/CT methodology means vendors release new software versions weekly or even daily. Combine this with disaggregation, and now dozens of vendors are releasing updates within a 5G solution, and at an accelerated pace. It isn’t feasible to perform once-and-done testing. Testing must be performed on a continuous basis, spring-loaded to detect and address issues before users experience the problem.

  • Virtual test beds spun up in the cloud in minutes. This is the only way to keep pace with this fast-paced new world of networking.

  • Productionized automation across labs, testing, and processes. DevOps best practices introduced automation to software delivery, vastly speeding development cycles. These crucial process improvements directly apply to test automation efficiencies.

  • Managed test and assurance solutions. We live in an era of accelerating change. It is hard to keep up with everything. Managed test and assurance solutions and services bring together subject matter expertise and best-of-breed technology solutions to bear on 5G’s most challenging problems.

  • Proactive assurance (testing) with a closed loop for self-driving networks. If you can automate test and assurance, why not the automate the search for root causes? And why not automate problem remediation?

Read our new eBook, 5G Testing for the Race to Revenue, to learn the full story on how testing is changing for a dynamic new 5G world.

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Bob Dietrich

Global Head, Services Solutions Architect

Bob Dietrich is an accomplished telecom and cloud solutions architect with 30 years of experience. Focusing on OSS and network management, he has supported a wide range of solutions throughout their lifecycle, from vision, business case justification, design, test, deployment, and customer acceptance and satisfaction.