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How 5G Networks Can Break Connectivity Borders
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How 5G Networks Can Break Connectivity Borders

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Gaurav Mohan, VP Sales, SAARC & Middle East, NETSCOUT, explains how a cloud-native ecosystem will provide a higher degree of flexibility to evolve the next generation of 5G networks.

As 5G deployment increases, it will transform connectivity globally and completely upend how enterprises conduct business. However, with such potential comes expectations, and the 5G “hype” has certainly gone mainstream. Unfortunately, in some instances, the reality of 2021 wasn’t quite ready for promises made, largely due to 5G’s unique complexity.

If providers do not design with observability at the onset, new services will end up taking off slower than anticipated, and the customer experience risks being compromised. This is where ‘observability solutions’ can assist service providers. Observability measures end-to-end performance — from the application to the network level. Observability solutions seamlessly provide continuity between existing 4G and new 5G networks.

The shift to a cloud-native architecture will allow 5G to break down connectivity borders. A cloud-native ecosystem will provide a higher degree of flexibility to evolve the next generation of networks.

The following seven elements once implemented in a 5G cloud-native network, will help enterprises provide a flawless customer experience:

1. Observability and security: To support the behaviour of dynamic network functions and encrypted traffic, observability and security solutions need to address any barriers introduced by 5G. For example, IP addresses no longer uniquely identify network functions as they did with 4G, which means new techniques are required to determine how 5G components behave. Solutions must also be able to provide visibility into encrypted traffic.

2. Higher degree of flexibility: In a cloud-native environment, it is simpler to make just-in-time upgrades, with significantly reduced downtimes. With a cloud-native foundation, if the operator wants to roll out new features, the only thing needed is an easy software upgrade, which significantly reduces the impact on service during upgrades. In general, a cloud architecture directs network resources to where and when needed, thereby “right-sizing” operations.

3. 5G network slicing: The telecom industry is moving from a “horizontal” to a “vertical” model, and a vital feature of this shift is the implementation of network slicing. Cloud architecture is essential to guaranteeing that the slicing management system can handle simultaneous slices through an easy interface so each vertical can manage its portion. Network slicing, a key feature of 5G, needs a cloud architecture to guarantee essential operations and management.

4. Mission-critical use cases: The uses for 5G are also far more critical — not just from a business perspective — since lives could depend on service reliability. For example, URLLC, which is short for ultra-reliable low-latency communications, is a 5G service for mission-critical, ultra-latency-sensitive services. URLLC enables new applications like virtual reality, self-driving cars and more. With URLLC, the ability to quickly detect and implement fixes for network issues is essential, and this flexibility is only possible with a cloud foundation.

5. Open architecture: The transition to cloud-native applies to both the core and the edge networks. An open and interoperable framework is crucial for assuring an optimum end-user experience.

6. Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation: The next generation of networks cannot function properly without a high degree of automation. This applies to everything from troubleshooting misconfigurations to cybersecurity protection. Suppose service issues are detected with a particular device in a specific network subsegment. In that case, cloud-based AI tools can help organizations better understand the root cause of the problem and assist human personnel in stopping it from mushrooming.

7. Advanced AI-powered automation: The complexity of the 5G network and the broad range of partners in the ecosystem are unlike prior wireless generations and necessitates advanced, AI-powered automation. Without that assistance, the potential for a suboptimal customer experience is too high. Furthermore, amid the long-term, demand-driven staffing shortages for data scientists, network automation also frees overworked staff to focus on the most vexing, mission-critical issues.

5G’s transition from hype to reality is an extended process, as the global rollout of 5G is one of the most impressive technological undertakings of our lifetime. An automated, cloud-native architecture allows 5G to break down connectivity “borders” and enables the level of observability needed to ensure a flawless enterprise experience. 2022 should be the year that 5G standalone becomes a reality among early adopters. However, even if the fundamental driver, observability, remains behind the scenes, the coming years will transform how we work and live.

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