5G Networks Require Automation to be Successful

April 14, 2020 | Karan Munalingal
5G Networks Require Automation to be Successful

While the world currently runs on 4G networks, everyone is buzzing about 5G and its possibilities. There is a huge market push to get 5G online worldwide resulting in an enormous amount of investment and innovation within the space. What’s all the hype about? Well, generally speaking, 5G networks would provide much higher data rates and bandwidth, enabling consumers to experience next generation applications and content seamlessly. In addition, the benefits of lower latency with 5G (less delay when requesting data from the network) and increased capacity would enable many of the new use cases that involve IoT and machine to machine communication, such as smart devices and smart cities. However, there is a big misperception that transitioning from 4G to 5G networks is as easy as flipping a switch. Nothing is farther from the truth and without network automation, it is all but unattainable.

5G is a complex journey

The networking community has come a long way with respect to managing networks via GUI and CLI provided by device vendors. Nevertheless, the network is becoming more complex and the services it offers are traversing multiple domains. 4G networks required innovations across Data, Control and Management planes, which are being used by network engineers today to manage the networks. But, 5G network is a completely different beast as it will exemplify usage of concepts such as Software Defined Networking (SDN), Virtual Network Functions (VNF) and Mobile Edge Compute (MEC) along with modern infrastructure components with machine interfaces. Based on how 5G networks have and will continue to evolve, the complexities are only increasing due to the need for reconfigurability and agility.

Automation is required for 5G

In order to address complex networks, automation is required. Many organizations have started their automation journey to address the challenges of 4G networks, however it is becoming apparent that if networking teams do not have a thorough automation strategy as they transition to the 5G world, supporting such a network will become untenable. 5G networks will require automation that can support multi-domain and multi-vendor technologies as services such as Network Slicing will traverse across multiple network segments such as radio, access, core and edge which may contain a mix of virtual and physical network functions in addition to programmable and non-programmable technologies.

Managing virtualized network environments is only getting denser

Virtualization is one of the core components of a 5G network as it would allow organizations to attain enhanced performance, scalability and agility. However, managing a virtualized environment is not an easy undertaking. The mutable characteristic of a virtual component helps organizations reduce the lifecycle management required today to support physical network elements. Today, due to the innovation in the virtualization space, it’s very easy for network engineers to spin up and spin down infrastructure that would support network services. Nevertheless, the networking that needs to happen between the virtual infrastructure is very hard to manage and impossible to scale as a huge volume of virtual components would constantly go through a state of existence as the 5G network grows. If organizations do not turn to automation to address management of such a beneficial yet volatile concept, it will be very difficult to successfully solve problems that will surface as the 5G network scales rapidly.

While the excitement and promise around 5G continues to intensify, it’s not a panacea. The transition will be complex requiring networking teams to lean heavily on automation and a comprehensive yet pragmatic strategy for migration to the world of 5G networks.

To learn more about how Itential enables 5G networks, click here to download our White Paper, “Automation, The Key to Successful 5G”.

Article Originally Published on The Fast Mode

Karan Munalingal

Senior Architect ‐ Itential

Karan Munalingal is a Senior Architect at Itential. Previously, Karan ran systems engineering at Ciena, focusing on carrier ethernet and core switching platforms. At Itential, Karan drives automation strategy serving global customers transitioning to modern networks and software-defined network programmability.

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