Why 5G needs a service assurance cloud for higher performance
5G standalone networks, designed for varied enterprise services, require network functions to be created and removed, literally, in a jiffy. We are now entering a world of sub-second and microsecond network function and service instantiations, says Sandeep Raina, VP global marketing, MYCOM OSI.
While this speed is promised through virtualisation of 5G networks and automation of the 5G network functions, it is only a service assurance system that can constantly assure the operations of the infra, network and services at this high speed and scale, predict problems and remediate dynamically.
Fluidity of 5G services
As the 5G network and its slices behave more and more in an elastic fashion to deliver dynamic enterprise services, the supporting performance management systems need to shadow the fluid shape of the network and its services, all the time.
The on-premises service assurance system was not designed for this fluidity and elasticity. However, moving the service assurance system to the cloud can help with extensibility of the system to web scale levels, by adding resources as needed.
The cloud brings operational efficiency, higher automation and faster root cause analysis. This not only results in better network performance and differentiated services but also enables service providers to deliver enterprise services faster to the market.
Disaggregation of 5G networks
5G networks are large, complex and distributed. Monitoring and assurance are required at multiple layers in the disaggregated, multi-vendor 5G network. The disaggregation results from virtualisation, cloud-native 5G core, open RAN, slices and edge components.
This requires new containerised assurance solutions that collect more granular data from the diverse layers of the 5G network and process it quickly. The cloud offers a natural environment for high data storage and large data processing to host cloud-native service assurance systems.
The changing nature of enterprise services
Enterprise services; smart cities, autonomous vehicles, and Industry 4.0 require 5G to reduce service creation down to minutes and seconds while maintaining high accuracy of operations. Mobile operators who are launching 5G to supply high performance, low latency and high availability services to enterprises need a far more efficient way of dealing with the data associated with these services and convert it to performance analytics and business analytics, both.
Performance analytics are best enhanced with machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) running over large high-speed data lakes in the cloud, bringing the advantage of multi-data experience of the public cloud. AI/ML models can be trained on large banks of historical data in the data lake, then run on real-time network data to predict and detect network problems faster, including misconfigurations and other anomalies and deliver immediate remediation.
What other benefits does the cloud offer?
5G operators increasingly want the network performance to improve across both consumer and enterprise services. It makes sense for them to invest in a system that allows them to leverage cloud-based technology to provide digital services with SLA (service level agreement) guarantees and tailor them to specific market segments and requirements. To this end, using a cloud-based assurance system brings benefits to the service provider in more than one way:
Increased operational agility and efficiency: Because of the agility offered by cloud services, infrastructure and environments can be quickly scaled up and down, as needed. Increase in operational efficiency is an outcome of end-to-end visibility across all network domains with automation of operational tasks, root cause analysis and closed loop automation.
Faster time to market services: Increased agility through automated on-boarding of service, inventory and topology in virtualised environments reduces time and cost to launch and assure new services.
Performance transparency for enterprises: Cloud-based enterprise portals offer a view to the enterprise customers as to how well their services are performing. The portal dashboards need to be always available and updated in real time, with the agility that only the cloud can offer.
To sum up, the disaggregation and dynamicity of 5G networks demands highly responsive and automated assurance systems that can benefit from the cloud’s speed and scale. The vast amounts of data storage in data lakes at lower costs helps in training predictive AI/ML models efficiently for predictive operations.
Cloudification of service assurance increases operational efficiency across all network domains with AIOps-based predictive problem detection, root cause analysis and closed loop automation, collectively termed as AIOps-driven intelligent assurance. This will help 5G operators with faster time to market enterprise services, differentiated network performance and a higher customer experience.
The author is Sandeep Raina, VP global marketing, MYCOM OSI.