Network slicing unleashes 5G opportunities, when service quality can be assured – Part 2
The opportunities for leveraging 5G are countless, not only for provisioning applications delivering programming to mobile phones, but also to other wireless devices. Pop-up point-of-sale kiosks with customised video and offers.
From carrier to kiosk to car
Medical equipment integrated not only with back-end servers in the hospital, but integrated with other healthcare equipment in the patient’s room – and with real-time video delivery and two-way communications with specialist care professionals.
Smart cities can use 5G networks to manage traffic by integrating vehicles with traffic lights, embedded road sensors, intelligent analytics, mapping software, and even information about the city’s sporting events – automatically routing through traffic away from the football stadium as the big game is about to end, says Marc-Antoine Boutin, director of Product Management at CENX.
In all those cases, and more, 5G and network slicing will allow the service provider and application developers to envision the ideal network architecture for their specific purposes.
Thanks to SDN, NFV, VNFs and LSO, a virtual network can be provisioned end-to-end, embracing the mobile devices, the data center and cloud services, and everything in-between. The advanced functionality of 5G will ensure that the radios in towers, small cells, smartphones and the Internet of Things are an integral part of the service’s network slice.
The capabilities of modern networks will unleash those possibilities. As multi-carrier SDN networks become more common and performant, new applications will emerge that leverage the low-latency, high-reliability 5G networks. And that’ll be true of applications that require a lot of bandwidth, such as mobile gaming and fixed-mount security cameras, as well as those that have more modest requirements in the automated factory, connected car and modern business.
Maintaining quality of service
As Spider-Man’s beloved Uncle Ben teaches him, “With great power comes great responsibility.” 5G network slices have the potential to become quite complex and resource-intensive. If the virtualised requirements for those networks are not carefully designed, and properly instantiated on physical networks through orchestrated SDN, they could become hogs that run slower than expected, consume more resources than anticipated, and become brittle and unreliable.
This can become a particular problem when it comes to the wireless portions of the virtualised networks and the 5G network slices. The bandwidth and capability of mobile networks are quite constrained; whether microwave, 802.11 or cellular data, there’s only so much available, and in the case of cellular data, the end-user may have caps and charges on its use: Wasting that resource may cost the customer money.
Even on mobile backhaul and small-cell networks, there’s only so much radio to go around on today’s often-oversubscribed networks.
This points to the need for not only careful design, but continuous monitoring of 5G network slices. A failure of a 5G network means more than a service outage that must be routed around or solved through the rapid fail-over to a backup network; it could also have adverse affects on the other applications requiring the carrier network, microwave tower, and even the mobile device itself.
As we move into the exciting new world of 5G networks, and begin to develop, design and deploy network slices for services and applications, it’s essential to consider service assurance every step of the way. End-to-end service assurance – extending through the RAN and other aspects of the mobile connection – will be key to ensuring that service level agreements are met, resources are used effectively… and customers will be happy.
With great power comes great responsibility. As with Spider-Man, 5G offers the potential for great power in mobile networks. The responsibility? Service assurance for SDN and the IoT. It’s the best way to go when planning to deliver excellence for the many opportunities in 5G.
The author of this blog is Marc-Antoine Boutin, director of Product Management at CENX
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