Next-Generation Services Demand Next-Generation Testing

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5G Standalone has the potential for new consumer and enterprise service offerings and the revenues that come with them. It adds up to an estimated $400 billion opportunity, enabled by new capabilities (slicing, disaggregation, services-based architectures). But as many operators are discovering, turning those capabilities into monetizable services is no small task.

The next evolution of telecom networks, 5G Standalone (SA), unlocks new cost savings and efficiencies, and amazing new customized services. For the first time, Communication Service Providers (CSPs) can define virtual network slices optimized for low latency, high throughput, and other attributes. They can fine-tune slices for different applications and deliver them as a service, on demand, and with guaranteed performance under service-level agreements (SLAs).

According to a recent Spirent survey of more than 70 CSPs, 5G SA cores are also delivering significant cost savings and efficiencies. Together, these new capabilities are a true gamechanger for the telco industry—or at least, they can be. But while 5G SA enables new cloud efficiencies and as-a-service (aaS) business models, it’s not a complete solution to deliver and monetize them.

It’s best to think of 5G SA network as a minimum viable product (MVP). Like any MVP, some gaps inevitably remain—starting with testing. You can’t monetize differentiated services if you can’t verify that the network actually meets SLA requirements. Put simply, you can’t deliver aaS business models without aaS testing—fully automated and integrated into every step of the lifecycle.

That’s what Spirent enables with Landslide 5G Core Testing. In fact, survey those moving fastest to launch 5G SA network services, and you’ll find they’re using Landslide to do it.

New opportunities, new challenges

It’s hard to overstate the impact of 5G SA networks, both for CSP services and their bottom line. For example, those operators taking the early lead in deploying 5G SA network cores report significant savings as a result of new capabilities like cloud auto-scaling, improved spectral and energy efficiency, reduced signaling overhead, and the ability to support extreme automation and artificial intelligence via service-based architectures.

Even more exciting is the potential for new consumer and enterprise service offerings, and the revenues that come with them. For consumers, 5G SA networks enable mobile cloud gaming, augmented reality (AR), fixed wireless access (FWA), and other services that require very low latencies, very high throughput, or support for more connections, in any combination. In the enterprise market, CSPs will be able to offer slices for precision manufacturing, real-time video analytics, and other applications—with guaranteed performance, under more stringent (and profitable) SLAs.

It adds up to an estimated $400 billion opportunity. And it’s all enabled by the new capabilities (slicing, disaggregation, services-based architectures) that come with 5G SA networks. As many operators are discovering, however, turning those capabilities into monetizable services is no small task. With disaggregation, for instance, network software updates now come in constantly, from many more vendors, all releasing on their own cadences. Suddenly, network functions, security, and the underlying infrastructure can look very different from one day to the next. How do you continually validate that all pieces still interoperate as a cohesive system, are secure, and deliver the performance you’ve guaranteed?

You won’t do it with legacy testing approaches. They’re designed for a world where software moves gradually from testing to deployment to ongoing operation, with each stage handled in siloed environments, by different teams, with little coordination or integration. This model works when you have months to roll out updates. But in an aaS world, the whole process—from when a customer purchases a new capability to when they start using it—should happen within hours, if not minutes.

Key ingredients for realizing monetization

Fortunately, we have a clear blueprint for achieving this from the enterprise world: Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery/Continuous Testing (CI/CD/CT) pipelines. It’s these automated, end-to-end toolchains that allow companies like Amazon to release software every two minutes. They’re absolutely essential for 5G SA networks. But while many CSPs have made progress on the CI/CD part of the equation, too many still struggle with continuous testing. Enter Spirent Landslide.

Transforming testing

Landslide Core Network Testing provides the missing pieces needed to monetize new aaS business models. It introduces a comprehensive framework for 5G SA network testing and validation that is:

  • Integrated, extending consistent testing across labs, preproduction, and ongoing operation.

  • Cloud-native, so that testing, like 5G SA network services, employs cloud capabilities like dynamic scaling, fast failover, and more.

  • Automated, so that software progresses quickly through each stage of the lifecycle, without manual intervention.

Landslide provides comprehensive 5G testing tools and the ability to validate all cloud-native functions, in isolation and as part of end-to-end services. It also includes a library of hundreds of test cases, all pre-integrated so that you can deploy them on Day 1 into established CI/CD pipelines. Most importantly, Landslide enables full automation and integration within an end-to-end CI/CD/CT toolchain to roll out new 5G SA network capabilities quicker, at a lower cost.

DISH Wireless, for example, is using Landslide to provide fully automated Testing as a Service (TaaS) for their groundbreaking 5G SA network. In a recent blog, DISH engineers describe how Landslide automatically conducts thousands of tests daily to proactively validate network performance. Additionally, any change in the environment automatically triggers retesting to verify that 5G services are still performing as expected, within SLAs. When issues are detected, even the response is automated. Landslide generates a Jira ticket, complete with logs and test artifacts, and dynamically routes it to the right team.

DISH Wireless uses Landslide to provide fully automated Testing as a Service

Don’t try CI/CD without CT

Most CSPs appreciate the breadth of changes that a 5G SA network brings to their business. Many are already investing in automation to navigate this dynamic new world, including CI/CD. But too many continue to overlook the “CT” part of the story.

To monetize 5G SA services and take advantage of cloud-native cost savings, testing can’t be partitioned off from development and implementation. It needs to be inline, automated, and embedded across the lifecycle, from design to delivery. The good news: get testing right, and you can continually tap into 5G SA network efficiencies and bring differentiated new services to market—more quickly, at a much lower cost.

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Anil Kollipara
Anil Kollipara

Vice President, Product Management

Anil Kollipara is a Vice President of Product Management in Spirent’s Lifecycle Service Assurance Business Unit, where he owns the strategy and execution of their 5G and Open RAN test and assurance portfolio. He has an extensive background in the wireless and telecommunications industry and has a successful track record of building industry-leading products in lab testing, service assurance, and network planning. Areas of expertise include test and measurement, service assurance, and predictive and prescriptive analytics in wireless networks (3G, LTE, 5G, Open RAN, VoLTE, VoWi-Fi). Before joining Spirent, Anil worked for industry-leading companies like Netscout, Danaher, Dell, and Cerion. He holds a BE from the University of Mumbai, an MSEE from the University of Texas at Arlington, and an MBA from the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business. Anil holds four patents related to characterizing and measuring subscriber experience in telecommunications networks.