5G + virtualization = a match made in telecom heaven, but assurance must factor in
5G is incorporating virtualization concepts and virtualization deployments are being accelerated by 5G’s outsized market opportunity. Yes, the stars have certainly seemed to align to deliver this foundational pair of technologies at the same time.
While NFV has threatened to break through for years, the emerging 5G network architecture has finally set the stage for broad deployment. Evolving cloud strategies are also driving uptake.
But here’s the thing: traditional reactive and predominantly manual service assurance and passive test methods that worked well for static networks will not be practical or cost-effective in a rapidly changing virtualized environment. Especially one where the focus has shifted from assurance of equipment to assurance of service performance and quality in a distributed network.
The 5G telco cloud: efficiencies and complexities abound
The success of 5G’s business case is contingent on the efficiencies enabled by the 5G telco cloud. But compared to the public cloud, the telco cloud has stringent, carrier-grade requirements like high availability, scalability and performance:
Moving radio baseband processing to the cloud presents challenges to time-sensitive networking and availability. Proactive RAN service assurance and continuous test will be critical to meeting network performance expectations.
Separation of the control and user planes supports virtualization and network slicing, but since each slice will have its own performance requirements, end-to-end testing of slices will require automation.
Cloud-native virtual network functions comprise reusable microservices that are optimized for a cloud environment. Thorough testing of these new microservices and their bundles will be required.
Cloud complexity has grown by leaps and bounds and the performance requirements have become more stringent. Put simply, traditional passive test and assurance do not have the response time necessary to ensure the performance needed.
Automation and machine intelligence to assure quality
In this cloud-based, virtualized 5G world of dynamic services, network changes happen faster than humans can process. This means automation will be essential to service orchestration and service assurance. It must be intelligent, actionable, real-time, and driven by analytics and machine learning.
Active test and automated service assurance simplify the testing, verification and delivery of 5G. For example, they can power:
Rapid turn up of new services using automated workflows that seamlessly integrate back office systems and test functions and network elements;
Proactive monitoring of the health and performance of the network, functions and services and verify SLA compliance;
Intelligent, end-to-end automation of continuous processes across development and operational domains, such as testing and validation, lab management, and launching and assuring networks and services; and
Zero-touch, automated troubleshooting and problem resolution.
Simplifying the complexity of 5G cloud testing with automation
While the combination of 5G and virtualization is a match made in telecom heaven, expect 5G telecom cloud to also present performance challenges that require new, automated assurance processes.
Spirent has deployed critical network automation capabilities at top North American mobile operators who are automating more than 50 different operational, engineering and customer care functions. The deployments deliver seven-times faster service activation, millions in cost savings and higher quality, differentiated market offerings.
Follow our 5G blog series and download our Simplify 5G white paper to learn more about how automation, emulation and new test methodologies can reduce the complexity and economics of testing, verifying and delivering 5G networks.
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