The Post-smartphone era of 5G is spreading faster than we may had expected despite all continuing concerns. According to the data collected by Ericsson Mobility, the adoption of 5G could exponentially grow, hitting one billion in 2022. To harness its true potential, CSPs must change their operational and business support systems to follow the trend and grow their revenue. Telcos know that software transformation is essential for the future of network orchestration, so they need to rapidly adopt this new approach, learning from data centre and cloud specialists. This software transformation is already becoming part of Telco operations, finding examples in network function virtualization (NFV) and software-based networking (SDN).
This service-based 5G network architecture seeks flexible and efficient solutions to meet the requirements of diversified mobile services. By using SDN and NFV supporting the underlying physical infrastructure, 5G can provide access to the cloud, transport, and core networks. Unlike traditional IP networks, SDN introduces the idea of separating control away from the switches, enabling external control of data through a logical software, a controller. Additionally, NFV addresses flexibility, agility, scalability requirements and leverages cloud computing.
Benefits and challenges of NFV and SDN in virtualised networks
OSS/BSS Transformation is crucial for 5G monetisation. The new communications network model based on SDN and NFV adds intelligent traffic management beyond those already performed by routing systems. It is a modern network model with multiple benefits and challenges.
Adopting SDN and NFV raises critical challenges for any organisation, as it means a shift in vendor strategy, and it involves investing in new technology. It will mean moving from a single vendor strategy to homogenised infrastructures. In the future, systems will need higher capacities and the number of simultaneously connected devices to the same network will significantly increase.
Despite these challenges, Alvatross is committed to the use of SDN and NFV in the Cloud for their multiple benefits. Besides the investments that telcos need to face in the beginning, the emerging Cloud architectures inside telecommunications operators will maintain or even reduce the operational costs for the upcoming scenario which threatens to become increasingly complex. Therefore, this might be a crucial and cost-efficient solution for suppliers in the long term.
SDN’s centralised controller has a global view of the network state and can take decisions and simultaneously transport different types of traffic without affecting one another. Developers can use this same controller to interact with the network. This way, the applications can dynamically configure the network to reserve bandwidth, enforce security, or anything the applications require. On the other hand, the combination of this technology with NFV makes it simple and cost-efficient to implement network functionalities since no specific hardware is required. NFV also allows for innovation and rapid deployment and can run off-the-shelf servers.
Ultimately, the combination of SDN and NFV is a means to make the network more flexible and simpler by minimising dependency on hardware constraints.
They are, among other things, capable of creating "data blocks", combining them to reduce network load. Therefore, the main advantage of these two systems is, indeed, their adaptability. This means that a network using SDN and NFV can change its operating parameters dynamically, always adapting to its surrounding circumstances.
All the above-mentioned benefits can be undestood as crucial elements of success for the CSPs new markets. Telcos need to continue to develop their software transformation and cloud computing capabilities to become agile, scalable, and efficient enough to meet the requirements and demands of the hyper-fast 5G network.
How do we orchestrate the new 5G networks through OM?
The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly accelerated the CSPs trend towards modernisation. The telco sector was greatly affected by the growing remote-work trend, which is just an example to illustrate the evolution of 5G and the need for a new standardised roadmap for OM.
CSPs used to manage to reuse the same approach already implemented for 4G in the 5G era. The problem with this is that the legacy Order Management functions cannot be completely automated, and users need a high level of expertise. Additionally, this approach promotes considerable delays, meaning CSPs would have to face big challenges when implementing new offerings.
To come up with solutions, we try to gather all our data into a single platform to cohesively orchestrate the way we deliver an integrated solution of multiple products and services to different customers across many locations. Alvatross’ cloud-native digital platform is the chosen scenario to implement the technologies related to 5G network orchestration. Virtual machines for compute operations and virtual storage are managed by orchestrators. Alvatross trusts TM Forum Open API standards for Order Management to orchestrate and stimulate CSPs growth through 5Gdeployment, focusing on service-level operations to avoid old-fashioned automation and scalability problems.
Any Order Management API requires innovation, automation, and to be open. What does this mean for Alvatross? Innovation is key to prevent our orchestration from becoming a static model. Software development evolves so fast it is impossible to predict where it will take us exactly in the future. What suppliers like Alvatross can do is to create dynamic infrastructures to keep supporting new capabilities, offerings, partners, and other infrastructures. This complexity means we need to ensure to automate our scenarios as much as possible. We need to have an excellent vision and the capability of knowing that we are delivering the right customer experience and being aware of our evolution. And finally, when talking about being open, we refer to sharing our information without hiding our errors from our customers. It means to promote great visualisation to provide both, internal users, and end-users with different levels of information.
The adoption of new technologies like SDN and NFV implies and raises different challenges and multiple benefits. Are CSPs willing to make big investments to earn even higher revenues? It may sound and seem abstract, but it will surely become important in the post-smartphone era driven by 5G implementation.
Analysts expect 5G coverage to reach up to 65% of the world’s population. And like it happened with the Internet in the 1990s, latecomers will end up regretting being the last to join the trend. The process of innovation is a difficult thing to define but it is certainly not something any CSP can do while fighting files. Adopting new technologies and models means being able to monetise the present and future of 5G networks through transforming and modernising the CSP’s OSS and BSS architectures.
Alvatross offers a dynamic, automated an open solution to help orchestrate the new 5G networks. We offer a tool that helps CSPs to monetise their 5G networks in a simpler and more reliable way, making sure they meet all the requirements needed nowadays and staying up to date, without hiding information from customers.