Can You See Your 5G?

Overcoming the observability challenge with 5G standalone networks

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The transformation of communications service provider (CSP) networks with virtualization and the move to the cloud with 5G standalone for mobile operators has created fundamental visibility challenges that require next-generation service assurance and analytics applications. Encrypted interfaces, changing packet communications between network functions, and the move to containers creates these visibility barriers. Network operations (NetOps) and engineering teams must also understand how communications traffic patterns change in the post-pandemic world along with the explosive growth in services and devices enabled by 5G.

Packet Data and Network Slicing

NETSCOUT is working with numerous network equipment providers, including Ericsson, Mavenir, Nokia, and F-5, as well as all the top hyperscalers to provide visibility to IP traffic in the 5G cloudified network. One example of this effort is an industry-first data-processing and network-function-monitoring solution from Ericsson, Swisscom, and NETSCOUT that provides automatic access to packet data and the ability to analyze raw packet data. By enabling cloud-based packet data processing and network function monitoring, CSPs can dramatically improve network service assurance, analytics, and cybersecurity.

Network slicing brings another level of observability challenge, with logically connected virtualized infrastructure dedicated to specific customer and/or service and device requirements. To meet the demands of this new technology, NETSCOUT has innovated virtual microprobing technologies that can go down to an individual slice. In this way, CSPs will be able to access full packets, key performance indicators (KPIs), and call trace and even feed third parties’ data on each slice—helping carriers ensure they are fulfilling service level agreement (SLA) obligations.

Due to the vast amounts and complexity of data gathered from traffic traversing networks and the low latency required by 5G, slicing, and multi-access edge computing (MEC), CSPs will need ways to analyze data that don’t rely on cumbersome human-based methods. NETSCOUT’s Omnis Analytics automation solution harnesses 5G packet data intelligence at scale, creating Smart Data. Leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) informed by network domain expertise, this automated analytics solution is perfectly suited to identifying issues impacting customer experience, as well as gathering critical insights into what services are working effectively and how customers are interacting with them.

DDoS Protection

Security also plays a critical role in network observability. NETSCOUT’s Arbor products offer market-leading adaptive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) protection, backed by global visibility and threat intelligence. It protects the internet and individual organizations’ digital infrastructure and critical services from increasingly frequent, sophisticated, and damaging DDoS attacks.

DDoS attacks have been rapidly evolving into devastating new adaptive DDoS attacks that use sophisticated, botnet-driven dynamic direct-path attack traffic. These attacks include application layer and state exhaustion attacks that are effective at much smaller traffic volumes. This has created service provider DDoS challenges both large and small: large carpet-bombing attacks and frequent, smaller direct-path attacks that are challenging to detect in a service provider network. Service providers need NETSCOUT’s Adaptive DDoS Protection to detect and stop these latest attacks.

AIOps and Automation

Consuming and analyzing all the data from large networks has become more challenging, and 5G technologies add more dimensions to consider when looking for root issues. The traditional process of reacting to customer calls or tracking alarms is no longer adequate. Services now must be analyzed as they move across technologies, devices, and networks. What issues are impacting the network, which issues should be solved first, and what factors are contributing to poor network conditions all need to be answered before an engineer is involved. 
To create smart outcomes for NetOps, AIOps, and SecOps teams deploying and managing 5G standalone networks, NETSCOUT is enhancing its Smart Data with AI/ML technology informed by four decades of network domain knowledge.

Find out more about how NETSCOUT observability solutions can help on your journey to 5G standalone networks by meeting at Mobile World Congress 24 in February. To schedule a meeting please click here.