Thanks to network functions virtualization (NFV), service providers will be better equipped to compete in the world of 5G.
The decoupling of network functions from dedicated hardware and moving them to virtual servers provides significant network management enhancements -- it transforms the way communication network services are designed, deployed, and managed, and allows service providers to dramatically scale and customize operations across the network.
With the capabilities offered by virtualization, many Tier 1 service providers believe it will be a key component for enabling their networks of tomorrow. In 5G, where the network demands for speed, capacity, and coverage will be greater than ever before, NFV will provide the infrastructure requirements to satisfy the growing needs of applications, devices, and services.
In traditional networks where services are tied to infrastructure, any service change requires planning, truck rolls, and time. With a large portion of the network virtualized, 5G networks will be able to dynamically adapt their resources to support the requirements of new hyper-connected services, such as augmented reality, IoT, and autonomous driving.
By its very nature, 5G networks must be proactive with limited human intervention to operate efficiently and cost-effectively. In order for service providers to effectively optimize, manage, and maintain their networks, it is essential that network resources are instantaneously spun up when and where needed. The essential element to this making this happen is automation.
To support a dynamic, continuously-evolving network, service providers must incorporate intelligent automation into their operations and have their network operate as a closed-loop system. This begins by having a solution in place that can extract and correlate big data from across the network to build a comprehensive, trusted model of network topology. With 5G NFV, adding and moving network elements can happen at the click of a mouse. In order to perform root cause analysis within a closed-loop system, a real-time mapping of topology is required to understand the service dependency of every resource.
Next, the feedback mechanism to drive corrective action within this system is performance metrics. The automating of network management and assurance needs to be supported by a common solution that continuously monitors the operational state of services by integrating KPI analytics from the network. Through this approach, the network can take action to:
- Identify an issue within the network
- Understand the resources responsible for taking corrective action
- Send sufficient data to guide corrective action
In 5G, services can be deployed rapidly via NFV, and upgrades can be easily done within minutes. Only with automation in place will service providers maximize efficiencies, simplify operations, and achieve the level of network resilience required to support 5G.