Branch Network Flexibility is key to driving 5G Computing Innovation

Enterprises of all sizes and in every vertical market are developing digital transformation strategies in order to move faster with greater agility so that they can enhance the customer experience and take advantage of emerging growth opportunities. There is widespread recognition that a key element of business transformation is network transformation that is designed to accommodate SaaS apps, Cloud services and next-generation transport such as 5G, which is significant because technically it will deliver a substantial advancement in data throughput and low latency compared to 4G.

5G is a next generation mobile broadband innovation that promises to bring about greater operational efficiencies, enable further automation of business processes, and usher in the age of an intelligent application universe with unprecedented scalability. While 5G promises to provide enhanced bandwidth connectivity, dependable mobile communications and a predictable application experience, vertical industries like retail will finally be able to drive a more compelling digital experience through AR/VR (augmented/virtual reality) and AI (artificial intelligence) implementations.

The rise of data volume and analytics arguably is accelerating the real-world evaluations and initial architectural implementations to support 5G at scale. Because Versa Networks is one of the few vendors to focus on service-provider NFV requirements, we have seen a rapid increase in the pilot and proof-of-concepts to support 5G connectivity as an alternative optimal path of network-packet transport.

Another impact telecoms will have to consider is what if any affect 5G will have on mobile backhaul services. There are a number of factors that will be variable across the multiple mobile network operators, however many MNOs are turning their attention to SD-WAN as an enabling fabric technology to expedite and modernize mobile backhaul to be optimized to leverage the capabilities of 5G inherently – examples being segmentation within SD-WAN mapping to 5G slicing and secure SD-WAN making it easier and more confident to achieve direct to Internet connectivity from the branch.

In reality, the types of enhanced services that are possible with 5G, including smart cities and industrial IoT, will require robust fiber resources beyond the current capacity in major metropolitan areas. In fact, Deloitte Consulting research estimate that the United States alone will require an estimated $130 billion to $150 billion in fiber investments over the next five to seven years to adequately support broadband competition, rural coverage and wireless deployments for future 5G network technologies.

Versa partners like Verizon have been investing in network preparation for 5G deployment that requires deep fiber resources, a vast array of small cells, critical spectrum holdings and mobile edge computing capabilities, including secure SD-WAN. The same impacts will apply to other telecoms infrastructure, such as subsea cables and small cells/towers, because the 5G wireless part of the last mile will generate enormous increases in traffic for a variety of network transport and access endpoints.

Mobile edge computing will benefit from many networking technologies, such as how the performance and low latency of 5G will be superior to previous generations of cellular networks in terms of connecting many thousands of more endpoints with peers and edge devices such as gateways.

The 5G infrastructure requirements will differ on a geographic basis because there are different standards that must be adhered to, such as with 4G LTE, or for example frequency and bands in use in each region. The big news for WAN-edge vendors like Versa will be around the “network slicing” component for 5G and how it melds nicely with SD-WAN segmentation and Versa’s contextual policy constructs for performance, security, control, bandwidth and cloud.

To illustrate the point, the larger the bandwidth pool, the less competition there is for space and time; however, with segmentation Versa can give operators a unique slice of time and performance (or per app, user, device) as well as a slice across a mobile infrastructure. In the Versa 5G architecture, each network slice serves a specific purpose, so that there could be three slices that define, say, IoT, real-time apps and multimedia.

While it’s not the only aspect of 5G buildout that SD-WAN vendors can bring to the MNO, network slicing will be a significant business driver for 5G use case adoption. This requirement will influence how CSP technologists address the complexity of operations and business processes for how network slices are instantiated across silos and how to commercialize 5G events and transactions, while the granular data capture and analytics from SD-WAN will also serve to improve OSS/BSS integration.