As carrier service providers (CSPs) plan 5G network rollouts, they are increasingly turning to cloud environments and software-defined data centers (SDDC) to lower CAPEX and increase agility and service velocity. At the same time, 5G will drive important changes in cloud architectures, as latency issues and downtime concerns shift critical data processing functions to the network’s edge. According to Forbes, “5G will make edge computing a critical architectural component of cloud computing and drive the creation of many new applications and devices.”
Those services and applications are likely to initially have specific targets in order to reap the quickest return on investment—services such as virtual gaming, smart energy grids, autonomous vehicles, remote healthcare services, robotic manufacturing, smart cities, and smart homes come to mind. CSPs can use mobile edge computing to build these targeted services, matching the infrastructure buildout to meet the needs of specific verticals. For this to work, CSPs need to partner with cloud providers to accelerate that move to the 5G edge.
Delivering 5G at the edge
For this complex scenario to work, look for big-name providers such as such as AWS, Microsoft AZURE, Google, and Oracle to partner with CSPs to build cloud-based edge architectures. We are already seeing cloud providers start to package and monetize proven public cloud architecture, moving it closer to the edge on-premises within CSP real estate. This in turn allows CSPs to offer those 5G services that require lower latency and massive throughput. We also expect CSPs to embrace container technologies such as Kubernetes because they offer many features of a virtual machine, but without all of the baggage. Designing fast, secure containers is ideal given the power and space limitations that will exist at the edge.
However, there’s no denying that while these moves accelerate 5G at the edge, they also significantly increase the complexity of delivering a flawless user experience.
As different players enter into 5G and build out the edge, we expect a commensurate shift towards holistic visibility to support this increasingly complex hybrid, multi-cloud environment. Ultimately, CSPs will need multi-purpose, high-fidelity, real-time visibility across all layers of the network to assure performance. Ideally, they will want a solution that offers a single, integrated platform that works on any legacy or cloud-based network.
To attain this visibility, service providers should look to drive value from IP traffic by turning it into smart data. Smart data—analytics-ready meta data collected and optimized from traffic flows in real time—can offer providers holistic, real-time visibility of their network, services, technologies, and subscribers. Smart data, and the resulting visibility it delivers, is the secret to making informed decisions that will be both intelligent and affordable. After all, the 5G and cloud journey promises to be a long one—doesn’t it make sense to leverage the best information available to make it pay off?
Find more details in the new white paper: “5G Ready Now! The Fourth Industrial Revolution – 5G/IoT”
Bruce Kelley, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, NETSCOUT